November 6, 2010

For Judy Lloyd's movie-star mother silence was incredibly golden

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By Frank Barning
Did you know that the mother of Division Avenue High's Judy Lloyd, class of 1960, had been a mega star in the movies?

Mrs. Lloyd, as I knew her, was considerably older than most of the mothers of my school friends. She was also the most striking. Judy, who lives in Oregon, was voted "Best Looking" in her class along with John General. Judy took after her mother in the looks department.

Lillian Smith Handleman, class of 1962, had this to say about the stunning Miss Lloyd. "Judy was the most beautiful girl I ever saw. I was literally mesmerized by her." And they had an interesting connection. "Judy and I were asked to collaborate on writing the school Alma Mater. We wrote it together--words and music--and they used it for several years at graduations."

Judy and her mother moved to Levittown sometime in the middle of her high school years, perhaps late 1957. I remember, vividly, the first day that Judy was a student at our school, a few weeks after classes had begun. It was late in the day and as I hurried to my locker, some guy comes up to me and says, "Have you seen the new girl? She is absolutely gorgeous." He had her homeroom number and suggested we walk there to take a peek through the door.

I do not exaggerate. By the time we arrived, there must have been a couple of dozen boys fighting for access to the door. And we were not disappointed. Judy looked like someone out of a movie magazine. How vivid was the image? Well, I still remember that she was wearing a skirt that looked like a kilt.

After awhile I got to know Judy and even spent some time at her home at 103 Orchid Road. She was a musician who had written a few songs and I still have a 45-rmp record that she co-wrote and performed on. Almost no one would remember, "This is My Love." I can't imagine that many copies were pressed, much less survived.

Once she invited me to her home to hear some new material she was working on. It turned out to be one of the most memorable mornings of my high-school years. Just me and Judy and her guitar. Awesome!

How famous was Judy's mother? She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It can be found at 6664 Hollywood Boulevard.

Here are some of the particulars concerning Esther Ralston's stunning career:

Esther Ralston
Born Sept. 17, 1902 in Bar Harbor, ME
Died Jan. 14, 1994 in Ventura, CA
Esther Ralston was the beautiful blonde "American Venus" of silent films.
She made her screen debut in 1916 in "Phantom Fortunes" and took several small roles until she was picked to play Mrs. Darling in the 1925 version of "Peter Pan."

Miss Ralston soon became one of the highest-paid actresses in silent films. She was publicized as the "American Venus," the title of a film she made in 1926. She also earned the appellation of "Paramount Clotheshorse," known for her extravagant lifestyle, which included riding about in a Rolls-Royce with a chauffeur uniformed in whatever color matched her dress.

Her credits included "Huckleberry Finn," "Oliver Twist," "Beggar on Horseback," "A Kiss for Cinderella" and "Children of Divorce."

Unlike many silent actresses, Miss Ralston moved easily into "talkies" and continued her film career until the early 1940s.

Later, she acted occasionally in radio soap operas. But after three failed marriages and the loss of her film fortune, she also supported herself working in a department store, a talent agency and an Upstate New York utility company.
— Myrna Oliver in the Los Angeles Times Jan. 21, 1994

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