Cast & Crew
Anna Q. Nilsson
For winning "Miss Ohio Valley" beauty contest, statuesque blonde Myra Norman is given a trip to Hollywood and a screen test, and is accompanied by her younger sister Sue. When the contest's promoter deserts them in Hollywood, Myra and Sue move into "Girls' Town," a boarding house run by former actress "Mother" Lorraine. Lorraine, now a wheel chair-bound invalid, houses many starving actresses, including stuntwoman Nicky, and little Sally, an orphan. Offended by Myra's snobbery, Nicky pulls a practical joke on her by recommending her to agent Kenny Lane, who only represents animals. Myra turns the situation to her advantage, however, and humiliates Kenny until he protests that he can get her a screen test with renowned director Lionel Fontaine, who is a personal friend. Myra blows her first opportunity at meeting Fontaine by showing up in her bathing suit, even though Kenny told her that Lionel needs a demure type. Later that night, however, Kenny wins Myra an audition with Fontaine in a poker game. Myra cleverly manipulates Sue into getting a job at Benny's Beanery to pay their rent, and when agent Danny Houseman comes to see some of the other girls at the boardinghouse, he tells Myra that she will be a laughingstock for letting an animal agent represent her, and suggests that she get some dramatic photographs made. Myra then charms Kenny into paying for the photographs, but later double-crosses him by getting an audition through Houseman. Sue, who is in love with Kenny, slips a photograph of herself in with Myra's photos. Lorraine, meanwhile, nearly loses her beloved Sally when Sally's father Joe, whom she believed was dead, comes to take her away. When he realizes that he cannot provide Sally with a good home, however, he tells Sally he was a friend of her father and leaves some money for her education. At the audition, Myra is unable to deliver her lines well until Sue steps in and reads with her, and only then does Fontaine agree to make a screen test. On film, Fontaine sees more talent in Sue than her sister. Although Kenny has broken off with Myra, he suddenly realizes how attractive Sue is when she waits on him at the diner. One afternoon, Sue answers the phone at Kenny's office and learns that the studio is searching for her to give her the lead role. Without admitting her identity, she tells the casting director, Coffer, that Sue is unavailable, so that they will give the part to Myra. When she gets home, however, Myra accuses her of trying to steal the role from her, and Sue finally realizes what a shallow and selfish person her sister really is. Sue then packs to return to Ohio. When Kenny admits to Nicky that he has feelings for Sue, she encourages him to get Sue work in the film industry, knowing that this will upset Myra. Kenny shows Sue's picture around the studio, and only by accident discovers that she is the person for whom Fontaine has been searching. Kenny races to find Sue, and after locking Myra in a closet so she cannot get to the studio before Sue, learns from Lorraine that instead of returning to Ohio, she quit the beanery and started working for Dimitri's Drive-In, which advertises its "glamorous" waitresses. Lorraine, hearing Myra's screams for help, manages to get out of her wheelchair and climb the stairs to release her, and Myra angrily tells her that she is moving out. Sue, meanwhile, is fired from her job for arguing with Kenny because she does not want the part. They return to the boardinghouse only to discover that Lorraine has collapsed because of Myra's demanding behavior. Hoping to put Myra in her place, Sue then agrees to go to the studio. After Sue is given the lead role in the film, she and Kenny plan to marry, while Myra is hired to be Sue's stand-in.
Anna Q. Nilsson
George R. Batcheller
Martin G. Cohn
Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)
Born Margaret O'Rene Ryan on August 28, 1924, in Long Beach, California, Ryan began dancing professionally as a toddler in her parents' vaudeville act, the Dancing Ryans, and was discovered by George Murphy when she was 12. Murphy arranged for young Peggy to dance with him in the Universal musical Top of the Town (1937). She would go on to make a few more film appearances over the next few years - the most striking of which as a starving, homeless girl in John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - yet for the most part, she was hardly noticeable apart from a few dance numbers.
Her luck changed when Universal cast her opposite another teenage hoofer, Donald O'Connor in What's Cookin'? (1942). From then on, they teamed in a series of innocuous musicals that were low on production values, but high on youthful pluck. Just check out some of their titles: Private Buckaroo, Give Out, Sisters!, Get Hep to Love (all 1942); Top Man, Mr. Big (both 1943); Chip Off the Old Block, This Is the Life, and Bowery to Broadway (all 1944). They may have not been high art, but jitterbuggin' kids loved it, and given the low investment Universal put into these pictures, they turned quite the profit.
Her career slowed down after the war. In 1945, she married songwriter James Cross, and didn't return to films until 1949, when she made two minor musicals that year: Shamrock Hill, There's a Girl in My Heart. She divorced Cross in 1952 and met her second husband, dancer Ray McDonald, in her final film appearance, a forgettable musical with Mickey Rooney, All Ashore (1953). Tragically, McDonald died in 1957 after a food choking incident, and the following year, Ryan moved to Honolulu after marrying her third husband, Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman. She kept herself busy teaching dance classes at the University of Hawaii, but in 1969, she found herself back in front of the camera as Jenny Sherman, secretary to Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) on the long-running show Hawaii Five-O,. She played the role for seven years, remaining until 1976.
Eventually, Ryan relocated with her husband to Las Vegas, where for the last few years, she was teaching tap dancing to a whole new generation of hoofers. She is survived by her son, Shawn; daughter Kerry; and five grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)
Although a December 1941 Film Daily news item noted that producer Lou Brock was to write the screenplay with Gene Kerr, Brock's contribution to the final screenplay has not been determined.