Cast & Crew
In 1863, rambunctious teenager Lotta Crabtree eagerly anticipates the arrival of famed entertainer Lola Montez to the small town of Rabbit Creek, California. Lotta's stern mother Mary Ann discourages Lotta's interest in Montez, although her henpecked father John encourages her affection for music and dancing. Determined to be an actress, Lotta skips school and studies her idol's every move as she parades into town, accompanied by disguised townsman Mart Taylor, who publicizes her performance by pretending to shoot himself out of love for her. Although Mart adores Lotta, he is reluctant to sneak her into the saloon where he works to watch Montez perform. The next morning, as Lotta plays outside, her singing and dancing are observed by handsome Southerner Tom Richmond, who is amused by Lotta's costume and imperious demeanor. Tom agrees to escort her to Montez's show, and the delighted girl slips out of her room that night. While Lotta is reveling in Montez's exuberant performance, John accompanies Cornelius, one of the lodgers at the Crabtree boardinghouse, to the saloon to gamble. Cornelius assures John that he has a surefire scheme to win at roulette, but the unlucky John winds up losing his money and the boardinghouse. Mart, who has informed Tom that Lotta is only sixteen, escorts her home, and when she learns about her father's misfortune, she convinces Mary Ann that she can help the family by becoming a touring entertainer. John leaves with Cornelius during the night, and in the morning, Mary Ann and Lotta, accompanied by Mart and some local musicians, begin to tour the many mining towns in California. During her first show Lotta is billed as "The Golden Girl," but is disappointed when the miners do not throw gold pieces, as had happened during Montez's performances. She then tears off part of her costume and does a risque dance, which the infuriated Mary Ann criticizes. Tom, who is in the audience, saves the day by encouraging the miners to throw gold onto the stage. During the following weeks, the Crabtrees and Mart continue their travels, and Lotta's fame spreads. Tom trails her to every show and meets her secretly, and the couple fall in love. One night, Mary Ann confronts Tom, who confesses that he is a professional gambler. Before Lotta's next performance, Mary Ann reveals Tom's profession to Lotta, and accuses him of following them only to fleece the gathered crowds. Crestfallen, Lotta refuses to talk to Tom, although her attentions are diverted by the appearance of a Union officer, who asks her to transport gold to her next stop at Fort Yucca. The officer explains that a notorious bandit named "The Spaniard" has been stealing Union gold, and Lotta agrees to his request. Before Lotta leaves, however, Tom finds her and professes his love, which Lotta gladly reciprocates. Soon after, the Crabtree wagon is held up by masked bandits, led by The Spaniard. Despite his disguise, Lotta recognizes Tom as The Spaniard, but is comforted by his explanation that he is actually a Confederate captain ordered to provide for his starving men. Promising to sing "Dixie" for him in the future, Lotta bids farewell to her beloved and continues her travels. Lotta's fame grows and soon she goes to San Francisco, where she is reunited with her father. John wins the deed to a prominent theater in a card game, and Mart uses it to stage a successful show for Lotta. As the Civil War rages on, Lotta becomes the darling of San Francisco. Hoping to find Tom, Lotta reluctantly leaves California on a cross-country tour, ending in New York. The Golden Girl's appearances in New York are constantly sold out, and although Mary Ann gently reminds Lotta that it has been a year since she last saw Tom, Lotta refuses to give up hope. One night, just after learning that the war is over, Lotta receives a letter from Tom, stating that he has been wounded but will soon recover. Mary Ann also receives a letter from Tom's doctor, who explains that Tom will probably not survive. Heartbroken, Lotta continues the show, although the audience boos when she sings "Dixie." Mart then champions Lotta, telling the crowd that they should be generous in victory, and soon everyone joins Lotta in song. After the show, the family lets Lotta grieve alone, but as she gazes across the empty stage, she hears Tom call her name and rushes into his arms.
J. Farrell Macdonald
Charles G. Clarke
Daniel Decatur Emmett
Fred J. Rode
Golden Girl (1951)
Golden Girl, Gaynor's third film and her first starring role, was a typical Technicolor musical produced by Fox in the late 40s-early 50s; a time when audiences were being lured away from theaters by the new invention of television. To compete, films had to be big and splashy and in color. Golden Girl fit the bill nicely. Gaynor, with her upbeat personality and singing and dancing talent that calls to mind a less hyperactive Betty Hutton, is given a chance to shine as the up-and-coming superstar. Robertson played the dashing Confederate spy who she thinks she loves, and singer Dennis Day, a long-time cast member of The Jack Benny Show, played the plain but good-hearted guy who loves her. The film was directed by veteran Lloyd Bacon, from a story by Albert Lewis and Edward Thompson, and adapted for the screen by Charles O'Neal, with choreography by Seymour Felix. The original song, "Never," written by Lionel Newman and Eliot Daniel, and sung by Dennis Day in the film, earned the film its only Academy Award nomination.
Golden Girl, while a pleasant entertainment, was not a smash hit. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times, who could be harsh on occasion, wrote, "Judging by theatrical legends and hard facts, Lotta Crabtree, the Golden Girl who charmed the customers from coast to coast during and after the Civil War, was a fascinating figure. But in Golden Girl which came to the Roxy yesterday, the singer-dancer-actress is hardly fascinating but a fine figure of a girl, nevertheless. Beyond that, the company, which obviously was not attempting a definitive biography, only has fashioned an uninspired musical, lavishly daubed in Technicolor, whose music is not memorable...George Jessel, who produced, and a covey of three scenarists were concerned only with their heroine's ascent from callow girlhood in Rabbit Creek, Calif., in 1861 to her triumph in New York's Niblo's Garden some four years later...Mitzi Gaynor is youthful and fresh as the noted music hall artist. Perhaps too much so, but she does turn in a refreshing caper or two....Dennis Day is on hand to admire Miss Gaynor from afar and to lift his high tenor in song in such numbers as California Moon and Sunday Mornin', and Una Merkel adds a standard portrayal as her disapproving mother."
Producer: George Jessel
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Screenplay: Charles O'Neal, Walter Bullock, Gladys Lehman (screenplay); Albert Lewis, Arthur Lewis, Edward Thompson (story)
Cinematography: Charles G. Clarke
Art Direction: Leland Fuller, Lyle Wheeler
Music: Lionel Newman
Film Editing: Louis Loeffler
Cast: Mitzi Gaynor (Lotta Crabtree), Dale Robertson (Tom Richmond), Dennis Day (Mart Taylor), James Barton (Pa Crabtree), Una Merkel (Mary Ann Crabtree), Raymond Walburn (Cornelius), Gene Sheldon (Sam Jordan), Carmen D'Antonio (Lola Montez).
by Lorraine LoBianco
SOURCES: Crowther, Bosley, The New York Times 21 Nov 51 The Internet Movie Database Parish, James Robert and Pitts, Michael R. Hollywood Songsters: Singers Who Act and Actors Who Sing: Act, Volume 2
Golden Girl (1951)
The working title of this film was Belle of Market Street. The picture is loosely based on the life of famed entertainer Lotta Crabtree, who was known as "The Golden Girl" (1847-1924). Crabtree began performing in a small California mining town at the age of six, and took dancing lessons from Lola Montez. By the age of eight, Crabtree, accompanied by her mother, was touring California, and soon became a sensation in San Francisco, New York and the rest of the United States. When Crabtree retired at the age of forty-five, she was the wealthiest actress of her generation, and as depicted in the film, her many philanthropic actions included the gift of a fountain to the city of San Francisco.
According to a June 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item, ballerina Valerie Bettis was tested for the lead role. Although an March 8, 1951 Los Angeles Examiner news item announced that Thelma Ritter had been cast as "Mary Ann Crabtree," Una Merkel played the role. Shooting was delayed for approximately three weeks due to a broken toe suffered by Mizti Gaynor, according to Hollywood Reporter news items. Although Hollywood Reporter news items include the following actors in the cast, their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed: Grady Harrison, Doc McGill, Lola Kendrick, Alvin Hammer, Sally Yarnell and Danny Borzage. On May 3, 1950, Hollywood Reporter noted that character actor Bill Worth died while being made up for his part in the picture. In mid-June 1950, Hollywood Reporter also reported that director Lloyd Bacon, who apparently made a cameo appearance in each of his pictures, would be playing a policeman in Golden Girl. Worth's and Bacon's appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed, however. Portions of the picture were filmed at Century Ranch in Malibu Hills and in San Francisco, CA. The film marked Gaynor's first leading role, and the Los Angeles Examiner reviewer called her "one of Hollywood's most promising young actresses." Lionel Newman and Eliot Daniel's song "Never" was nominated for an Academy Award.