John Boles (1895-1969), the matinee idol of the early 30's and first singing star of the talkies, is presented herewith in this long-overdue and first-ever pictorial book that will surely appeal to any fans who still remember him, with over 60 head-shots and stills never before published in one book, and to new fans who will be able to discern his singular magnetism and the effect he had on the movie-going public of his day. Everyone knew his name. This book covers John Boles from his musical triumphs in "Desert Song" and "Rio Rita" in 1929 to his resurgence as a star in the patriotic musical "Thousands Cheer" in 1943. In the years between, primarily under contract to Universal and Fox Studios, he appeared as romantic lead in numerous dramatic films, such as "Back Street" and "Stella Dallas," causing women in the audience to swoon and dream. Boles did not possess the burning sexuality of the heartthrob that preceded him, Valentino, instead he was refined and comfortable in his vulnerable and charming masculinity. Perhaps more important, Boles looked approachable. John Boles was the most alluring star in the movies. His place in movie history is secured as being the first major singing star of the talkies. In 1927 he was discovered and brought to Hollywood by Gloria Swanson, who had seen him perform in the light opera, "Kitty's Kisses" in New York and offered him a contract to co-star in her new silent film, "The Love of Sunya." Boles was already an accomplished singer, having studied with vocal coach Oscar Seagle in New York, as well as two years with famous operatic tenor, Jean de Reszke in France. In 1929, with the first sound version of "Desert Song," followed by the film of the stage hit "Rio Rita," John Boles' combination of stellar looks and beautiful voice catapulted him to Number One at the Box Office. However, not for long, as the public taste turned away from musicals to more strictly dramatic fare. John Boles did not suffer the same fate as those former silent stars whose voices were too effeminate or too strongly accented to be acceptable in the new talkies. Boles, with his resonantly seductive speaking voice and his immense personal charisma, appeared in picture after picture as a leading man to actresses such as Loretta Young, Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Bennett, Rosalind Russell and opera singer Gladys Swarthout. During this time, he was fortunate to appear in two movies where he is now known to legions of science fiction fans only as Frankenstein's nephew, and to Shirley Temple fans only as Shirley Temple's Dad in both "Curly Top" and "The Littlest Rebel." This versatile actor achieved a career that included silent films in the late 20's, being the first singing matinee idol and romantic lead in numerous films of the 30's, and to appear on the Broadway stage once again as Mary Martin's co-star in "One Touch of Venus" in 1943. The purpose of this book is to stimulate interest in and encourage the resurrection of John Boles film successes favorably reviewed at the time, such as "Seed," "The Age of Innocence," and "Rose of the Rancho." John Boles, once experienced, can never be forgotten.
Beth R. Temkin, has been a movie buff since my grandmother took me to a revival showing of "Mrs. Wiggs and the Cabbage Patch" when I was three years old; ever since I've been a movie buff and movies are my favorite pastime. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a degree in Music, she was a music critic for Opera Guide, and music and theater critic for Club & Sports Magazine and in recent times a critic for The Tolucan Times. Ms. Temkin is an active member of Hollywood Heritage, The Book Publicists of Southern California, the National Sheet Music Society and a charter member of The American Cinematique. She lives in Los Angeles, California witth her cat "Princess." Beth continues to say, I've seen thousands of movies since then. Religious films such as "The Ten Commandments" and "King of Kings" made me cry copious tears. Foreign films such as "The Man Who Laughs" (1928) and "Children of Paradise" (1946) remain my favorite films. It was not until I was an adult, when John Boles appeared on the screen in a revival showing of "Back Street" (1932), that I fell in love with a movie star. I said to my companion "Where has he been all my life?" Boles swept me away, just as he did whith the audiences of the 1930's. (They use to faint in the aisles). Oh, would I have been proud to be the other woman for John Boles. Extremely handsome, he exuded a Southern charm with a masculine delivery. Even though he did not sing in "Back Street," he had a beautiful singing voice, having been trained by two well-known opera singers in Europe. Another reason why I love John Boles is that we both are singers. In 1965 I changed my professional name to Bethany Grant. My singing career stared in 1963 with the Norman Luboff Choir and their tour of the deep South and continued until 2010. For 41 years I was a church soloist at various churches. In 1973 I was one of the first three woman to join the previously all-male Singing Sergearnts of the United States Air Force Band and a year later the Bicentennial Band and Chorus as featured soloist and was then promoted to Master Sergeant Bethany Grant. The Bicentennial Band, for the first time in our history, was made up of the fire branches of the miltary and we travelled to all 50 states. Back in Los Angeles I sang in many of the top clubs including the Cinegrill at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. However, I never stopped collecting memorabilia on John Boles. Letters were published in the New York Times book section and the Los Angeles Times book section for information about John Boles. Hundreds of people sent me photographs, articles from magazines, obituaries and tidbits. John Boles had little or no scandal in his life. He had married his high school sweetheart and they had two children, both girls. He may have appeared at the door of Ginger Rogers who was living with her mother, to ask her for a date. (She said no). Another correspondent said he saw John Boles in a car with a blond. That could have been anybody...and that's it for scandal. Boles also sang on cruise ships as John "Song of the Dawn." Boles after his smashing appearance in the movie "King of Jazz," (1930) where he performed in a star-making production of "Song of the Dawn."