Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trader Horn and the one-time-only movie star

I am fascinated by this article about the filming of the movie Trader Horn from the June 1968 issue of American Heritage magazine. The movie, which was MGM’s first talkie, cost nearly $3 million to make. That was an astonishing sum in those days, and if you believe in comparing dollars now to dollars then, the equivalent today would be $42 million. And this was just as the Great Depression was starting.

The cast and crew of Trader Horn filmed on location in Africa for a year, and the female lead, Edwina Booth, a 21-year-old Mormon girl from just south of me in Provo, Utah, made it through the filming, but was sick with jungle fever for six years. After some subsequent minor roles she left the movie business. Easy come, easy go! She had walked in to the audition as a young starlet, and walked out with a major movie role, and then it was all over. Booth married a Mormon gentleman and they spent their time doing church work. Because of her illness rumors had spread that she had died, but she had just taken a low profile. She died in 1991 at age 86.

Duncan Renaldo (who, I was surprised to learn, was born Renaldo Duncan), was her male costar. You may remember that Renaldo did The Cisco Kid TV series in the 1950s, and was famous for his closing line with his costar, Leo Carillo, “Ohhhh, Ceesco...” “Ohhh, Pancho...” Born in 1904, as was Edwina Booth, Duncan Renaldo died at age 76 in 1980.

Copyright © 1968 American Heritage

No comments: