Friday, March 16, 2012

Lyda Roberti

Lyda Roberti replaced Thelma Todd in 1936. Hal Roach made an announcement on the radio that Lyda had been chosen to replace Thelma Todd in his film series with Patsy Kelly. She did well enough in that part, but problems with her health eventually limited her involvement and the series itself came to an end.

Lyda Roberti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lyda Roberti
BornMay 20, 1906(1906-05-20)
Warsaw, Poland
DiedMarch 12, 1938(1938-03-12) (aged 31)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Lyda Roberti (May 20, 1906 – March 12, 1938) was a stage and film actress.

Life and career

Born in Warsaw, Poland, Roberti was the daughter of a clown and as a child performed in the circus as a trapeze artist, and as a vaudeville singer. As the family toured Europe and Asia, Roberti's mother left her husband, settling in Shanghai, China where the younger Roberti earned money singing. They moved to the United States in the late 1920s where Roberti began singing in nightclubs. She made her Broadway debut in You Said It in 1931, and with its success became an overnight sensation. She also appeared in the short-lived Gershwin musical Pardon My English in 1933.
She moved to Hollywood and during the 1930s played in a string of films. Her sexy but playful characterisations, along with the unusual accent she had acquired during her years in Europe and Asia, made her popular with audiences.
She starred in Edward F. Cline's movie Million Dollar Legs (1932) as "Mata Machree, The Woman No Man Can Resist", a Mata Hari-based spy character who is hired to undermine the President of Klopstokia (played by W. C. Fields) in his efforts to secure money for his destitute country. Her plan is to seduce the athletes that Klopstokia is sending to the Olympic Games, and thereby prevent them from medaling. Highlights of the film include Mata Machree's steamy rendition of "When I Get Hot in Klopstokia", and the dance she performs to inspire Fields's opponent in the weightlifting competition.
She found success as a comedian, and was also popular as a singer on radio. Roberti made very few recordings:
  • Sweet And Hot (TCL-1461) 3-10-31 - (Brunswick private unissued recording)
  • Ha Ha Ho! (TCL-1462) 3-10-31 - (Brunswick private unissued recording)
  • My Cousin In Milwaukee 1/26/33 (radio broadcast)
  • Take A Number From One To Ten (LA-227) 10-5-34 (Columbia 2967-D)
  • College Rhythm (LA-228) 10-5-34 (Columbia 2967-D)
There is an unissued test by Eddy Duchin & his Central Park Casino Orchestra of "My Cousin In Milwaukee" attributed to Roberti, but collectors now believe that the vocal was done by Gertrude Neisen, doing her impersonation of Roberti:
  • My Cousin In Milwaukee (B-12897-B) 1-18-33 (Brunswick unissued, issued on an Epic 2-LP set in the 1970s, credited to Roberti)
In Roberta, Ginger Rogers played the role that Roberti had originated on Broadway, with reviewers commenting that Rogers' performance was a completely accurate imitation of Roberti's idiosyncratic speech and mannerisms.
Roberti replaced Thelma Todd in a couple of films after the death of Todd, but her health was failing due to heart disease. She began to work less frequently although two days before her death she performed a radio show with Al Jolson.
According to her friend and co-star Patsy Kelly, Roberti died suddenly from a heart attack while bending to tie her shoelace.[1] She is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


Short Subjects

  • Undersea Revue (1928)
  • Hollywood Rhythm (1934)
  • At Sea Ashore (1936)
  • Hill-Tillies (1936)

See also


  1. ^ Crivello, Kirk (1988). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of Fourteen Hollywood Beauties. Citadel Press. p. 270. ISBN 0-806-51096-X.

External links

In 1937, Lyda Roberti and Patsy Kelly made NOBODY'S BABY, which marked the team's move into feature films. But problems with her health affected her ability to work and in their next feature, PICK A STAR, Lyda Roberti had only a small part. Roach gave a bigger role to Rosina Lawrence ( who had appeared in the last couple of films in the series ) in it, but the series went no further and Lyda would make only one other movie after that, WIDE OPEN FACES, with Joe E. Brown.

An inspiration to Hugh Herbert in MILLION DOLLAR LEGS

With Mary Brian, Jack Oakie and Lanny Ross in COLLEGE RHYTM

Thirties Glamour

Some of the glamour girls wore dresses in the movies that were so tight, they couldn't sit down. Here we see Lyda Roberti leaning against a reclining board to rest.
Lyda Roberti under a sun lamp.
Lyda Roberti on stage in New York

One of the records they keep telling us we're not supposed to know about.

Watch Lyda Roberti in HOLLYWOOD RHYTHM
Lyda Roberti:


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