vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Just who is Mr. Drew?

For someone whose life was relatively brief, Carole Lombard appeared in a lot of movies, and her career intersected with all sorts of other actors. Take this guy, for instance:

That's Lombard in the 1929 Pathe programmer "The Racketeer," working with an actor named Roland Drew. Coming across this photo, I thought I'd learn more about him. Here's what I came up with:

Roland Drew was born in 1900 in the Elmhurst section of Queens, N.Y. He began acting in silents in 1926, initially under the name Walter Goss. By 1928, he had reverted to his actual name and had graduated to lead or second-lead roles, and had made two films opposite Dolores Del Rio -- the 1928 "Ramona" and, in 1929, "Evangeline" (below) an adaptation of the Longfellow tale about Acadians in Louisiana. (Part of the latter film was shot on location; to learn more about this, along with photos of the cast and crew, visit http://www.acadianaprofile.com/cover_feature_20_3.htm)

Then, his career took an inexplicable turn, as there was a five-year gap between "Ex-Flame" in 1930 and his next movie, "Nine To Nine." ("Ex-Flame" is presumed lost, which is to be pitied because it contained footage of Louis Armstrong performing.) Drew appeared in slightly more than a dozen films over the remainder of the 1930s, either in small roles in lower-tier films or uncredited parts in major movies ("The Goldwyn Follies," "The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer"). Then came the production that Drew is best known for today.

It's the 1940 serial "Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe" (Drew is at left, with Buster Crabbe, Carol Hughes and Frank Shannon). Drew plays Prince Barin, and yes, Flash's antagonist is none other than Ming the Merciless, portrayed by Charles Middleton (who was in the cast of the Lombard film "White Woman"). After that, it was back to bit or uncredited parts, so by 1945 Drew decided to quit the business, and married Dorothy Dearing, who had danced in Busby Berkeley films, the following year. (They had a son before her death in 1965.)

Like fellow "Racketeer" cast member Hedda Hopper, Drew found later success in an unrelated career; he moved into, of all endeavors, dressmaking. He died in Santa Monica in March 1988.

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