Remembering a Local Film Star: Beverly Roberts

The actress passed away in 2009, but she lives on through her films with such icons as Bogart and Al Jolson. Two of her films recently aired on Turner Classic Movies.

Laguna Niguel may be some 50 miles from Hollywood, but it does have a few connections to Tinseltown.

One is very near and dear to my heart: the late actress Beverly Roberts, a Warner Bros. starlet.

She made 27 films, and two popped up Monday evening on Turner Classic Movies: Hot Money, (1936) not often shown and China Clipper (1936), which is regularly shown on TCM.

I had the pleasure of meeting Beverly a few years ago, and we spent many hours talking about her life as a film star. She lived in Laguna Niguel off Flying Cloud high above the city for years after she retired from Hollywood.

Her roommate was another film star, Wynne Gibson whom she lived with for many years until Gibson's death in 1987 of a cerebral thrombosis, after suffering an attack in the home. 

Beverly passed away July, 13, 2009, at the age of 96, but her memory lives on through her films like those being shown on TCM tonight.

I will never forget the precious hours I spent with her and how I became mesmerized by her stories of swashbuckler Errol Flynn, (who asked her if she wanted to smoke), as well as hearing about the time she went for a sail with Humphrey Bogart.  

Beverly was spotted singing in a New York City nightclub by a Warner Bros. talent scout, her first role was in The Singing Kid with Al Jolson. A young Bogart was her co-star in Two Against the World

She also appeared in God's Country and the Woman (1937), which was Warner Bros. first Technicolor production, filmed at Mt. St. Helens, Ore., it was her most prestigious film.

She left Warner Bros. studio in 1940 to pursue a career as a singer, touring the U.S. with the Dorsey Brothers band. In the early 1950s, she appeared on many radio and TV shows. 

By 1954, she was appointed administrator of the Theater Authority in New York City, whose members comprised the five entertainment unions.The organization exercised jurisdiction over the appearance of performers at charity events and telethons. She told me she was responsible for coming up with the idea to hold the Jerry Lewis telethons on Labor Day. She stayed with the Authority for 25 years.

Each and every time that I would visit her, she would greet me with the same endearing smile and special greeting as soon as I’d walk in: “Wanna see my touch my toes?” she’d say bending down like the late Jack LaLane

Although she never made it as big as some of the other stars of her era, Beverly’s likeness did make it up on the silver screen more than many who went to Hollywood to find their dream.

She retired in 1977 to Laguna Niguel. In March 2002, she was honored at the Del Mar Theater in Santa Cruz, when China Clipper was shown at its grand re-opening. She was also honored at the Cinecon Film Festival in Hollywood in August 2002.

I salute Beverly today and I miss her cheerful outlook on life, and of course, her toe-touches. There will never be another Beverly Roberts. I’m honored to say that I knew her and even more thankful that she shared her fascinating life with me.

Be sure to check out her films and drop me a comment telling me what you thought of her acting.


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