Mary Carlisle appeared in more than 60 films from 1930 to 1943, playing the sweetheart of Sigma Chi, the girl next door, the college beauty and other roles that were ideal for the archetypal blond.
Born in Boston in 1914, Carlisle came to Hollywood at the age of 4 with her recently widowed mother. The 14-year-old Carlisle was spotted eating lunch with her mother at the Universal Pictures commissary by Carl Laemmle Jr. and offered a screen test. Despite her interest, she decided to first finish school before launching her career. Her first role was in 1930’s “Madame Satan,” directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
In 1932, Carlisle was named a Western Assn. of Motion Picture Advertisers Baby Star alongside Ginger Rogers and other Hollywood hopefuls. WAMPAS’ yearly promotional campaign highlighted young women believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom.
Carlisle went on to star with Bing Crosby in three films, “College Humor,” “Double or Nothing” and “Dr. Rhythm.” She also appeared with Ralph Bellamy and Fay Wray in “Once to Every Woman” and can be spotted in the finale of “Grand Hotel,” checking in as a young honeymooner. She played opposite such names as Jack Benny, Buster Crabbe, Lon Chaney Jr., Will Rogers and George Zucco over her relatively short acting career. Her final film was “Dead Men Walk” in 1943.
Carlisle married New York socialite James Blakeley, an actor who later became an executive producer and film editor at 20th Century Fox. Carlisle went on to manage the Elizabeth Arden Salon in Beverly Hills. She and Blakeley, who died in 2007, had one son.