Life Can't Bluff Heather Angel! (1934) 🇺🇸

Life Can't Bluff Heather Angel! (1934) |

April 13, 2023

It's a far cry from the peaceful solitude of an English pastoral scene to the gates of Hollywood but Heather Angel successfully bridged the gap with a series of amazing, thrilling adventures. She is now appearing in "Springtime for Henry."

by J. M. Ruddy

Heredity and environment undoubtedly play important parts in our lives. Actresses are not exempt from these two factors. That is why there is such a challenging firmness, a steady and unswerving determination, about dainty Heather Angel — whose latest Fox picture has the intriguing title "Springtime for Henry."

Your first glance of Heather suggests to you a Tanagra figurine or a Maxfield Parrish nymph in a symphony of warm brown tones. Her slight, almost frail body suggests an absurd femininity until you shake hands with her. Her hand-clasp is strong and sincere. Brown eyes gleaming in a smile meet yours. A pleasant English voice greets you.

If you want a thrill, drive from Lake Arrowhead to Hollywood with little Heather Angel at the wheel of a throbbing Mercedes-Benz. Dash down to the beach with her in her big Packard tourer. Go riding with her over the hills and down the dells of the canyons of Santa Monica and Beverly. There is the strength of tempered steel in that dainty form.

The life of Heather Angel has been full. There have been many changes, some sad, one really tragic, many gay and joyful. And through all the vicissitudes there is the background of a lady of quality, her dearest friend, her mother.

Dr. and Mrs. Angel lived in an ivy-clad house on Museum Road, in the university city of Oxford. Dr. Angel, a brilliant science scholar with all the quietude and reserve of his profession, was a professor of chemistry at the House, as Christchurch College is known to Oxonians.

His great-grandfather was an Italian, an ardent worker in Italian politics, who, after escaping from prison where he was incarcerated for some anti-Garibaldi movement, came to Scotland and became Italian tutor to Sir Walter Scott. Mrs. Angel's family were Irish and so we have our indomitable Celtic strain and a classical, literary lineage.

Life was serene in the kindly shadows of the ancient spires of Oxford. Two daughters were born to Molly and Andrea Angel — Marion and Heather. Mrs. Angel chose that name, which makes one think of soft mists creeping over purple moors, because of its euphony. It just fits.

The Angel family loved the crispness and freshness of early spring in the woods around Oxford; the beauty of long summer days in the hills; the soft charm of the English autumn; the pleasantries of fireside teas — scrumptious toast, muffins, and crumpets which the little girls, Marion and Heather, learned to brown in expert fashion. They dreamed and planned...

Then war!

The roll of drums and the marching of men shattered the peace of family life. For the first year of the war. Dr. Angel continued his coaching and teaching. Young minds must not be neglected. But war demands sacrifices. In 1915 he took charge of Brunner-Mond's huge trinitrotoluene factory in one of the most densely populated parts of industrial London.

Women came to make heavy explosives. Mrs. Angel came to her husband's side. Night and day, she worked as an overseer. The two girls, Marion, nine; and Heather, seven; were sent to a small boarding school.

January 19, 1917... A terrific explosion, its cause never ascertained, blew up ten factories. A square mile of London was demolished. There were five minutes of fire, fierce and raging. Dr. Andrea Angel knew that the firemen would perish if the flames reached a certain part of the plant. Unhesitatingly, the man of science dashed into the furnace to warn the trapped men. Dr. Angel was hailed as England's greatest hero. Men at the front acclaimed his courage as the finest act of heroism of the war. Mrs. Angel received the Edward Medal from the King and the Award of the Carnegie Hero Fund.

Very little money was left for the family. But the generosity of friends and Brunner-Monds provided sufficient funds for a good education for the two girls.

Mrs. Angel went into the Morris factory, assembling shells.

At last the Armistice. The children were at school and their mother commenced handweaving in silks.

Most things were forgotten and put aside during the difficult war-time days, and after the shock of their loss had been realized by the two children, Mrs. Angel impressed them with the impermanence of life and the necessity of independence and self-reliance.

Heather left Wycombe Abbey School, a great traditional place for girls, to go to Switzerland for a while. There she made up her mind to be an actress.

Lillian Bayliss took her to train at the Old Vic, England's most famous theatre for Shakespearean repertory, where Charles Laughton has been giving Shakespeare to the masses.

It was hard work. At school in the theatre from nine in the morning until late afternoon and a show every night; the hardest work that little Heather has ever done but wonderful training.

One night her mother came into her dressing room with a dignified gentleman.

"Miss Angel, will you play the Christian boy in 'The Sign of The Cross?'"

The company went on a successful tour. Stephanus was acclaimed in every city and town. Then came the leading feminine roles in Charley's Aunt and Is Zat So?

On her return to London, an exciting offer awaited her. Would she join a stock company about to leave for the Far East?

Heather and her mother discussed the pros and cons of the theatrical tour. It was rather an adventure for a young woman of nineteen. But, joyful thought, she would see sister Marion, married to an Indian Army officer, in Bombay, Calcutta, and the hill stations when the company toured India. Off she went.

Funny thing was that she took all the vamp parts in the various plays.

At Gibraltar, the company gave By Candlelight. Then on to Bombay, where Marion met her; touring all over India in the fierce heat of the monsoons; to Calcutta and Colombo; up to Khyber Pass in the majestic Himalayas, where belligerent Afghans and Baluchis are kept in order by a small British garrison. They presented their plays in hastily erected tents in the mountain snows. They acted in army mess-rooms and in punkah-cooled hotel lounges. That company of eight troopers put up with all sorts of discomforts to bring the theatre to the glamorous Orient.

Apart from an occasional cobra or scorpion or centipede and millions of mosquitoes, the tour was free from adventures.

Mrs. Angel met her daughter in Singapore after many uncertain delays. Together they went to Hong-Kong, Shanghai, and Pekin. In Hong Kong mother and daughter were invited to dine with a Chinese mandarin, fabulously wealthy. During dinner, as they sat, toying with mysterious dishes, on richly carved chairs of ebony inlaid with marble, a weird wailing was heard.

Startled, they were told by their benign, bland host that his father had died recently and the funeral lamentations are kept up for a year. It was the strangest dinner music they had ever listened to. Suddenly, through a slat in the wall, between some priceless Ming plates, a thin, wisp-like face peered at them. Just the poor widow satisfying her desire to gaze at the strangers.

The tour finished after performances in Cairo, Port Said, Alexandria, and a desert show at Ismalia on the Red Sea.

It was joy to be back in England after those thirteen months in the Orient. Heather had commenced her career in earnest. Sir Nigel Playfair sent for her to play in The Importance of Being Earnest, the prelude to her great role in Berkeley Square.

To Italy for her first movie. Halcyon days at Capri with blue Mediterranean skies and warm seas to swim in after work... and with Jan Kiepura, of "Be Mine Tonight," her screen lover... happy hours in the Blue Grotto and a chance to forget sadness and care.

Heather says that it was one of her loveliest experiences, so beautiful and fine that it seemed to hurt at times.

She hurried to England and her success had made her so much in demand that she was playing in two movies and a stage play at the same time. There was no time for memories, just work, work, work... and Hollywood loomed fascinatingly on the horizon.

Sidney Kent saw her in London and here she is.

Mrs. Angel and Heather make their home in Dolores del Río's beautiful Spanish house in the Hollywood hills. The great companionship of mother and daughter is, if possible, stronger than ever.

With Heather, work comes first. She has yet to have her first romance although she has many men friends. Between pictures, she has been learning polo and now wields a wicked mallet. In breeches and blouse, hair curly from the wind's caress, she will come in to tea and curl up in a comfy chair to dream for a while. Talk to her, and a gentle smile will be her answer for there is a fascinating elusiveness about Hollywood's new Angel...

Photo by: Wide World

Do you remember way back when — these were among the screen's brightest stars? Some of the heartbreakers of former days gathered recently at the home of Lila Lee, and the cameraman came back with this picture.

Left to right, front row, Mrs. Harold Lloyd (Mildred Davis), Mrs. Charles Butterworth, Carmel Myers, Mrs. Harry Eddington (Barbara Kent), Mrs. Darryl Zanuck (Virginia Fox), Edna Murphy, Mrs. Charles Farrell (Virginia Valli) and Mrs. Paul Sloane; left to right, rear— Helen Ferguson, Gertrude Olmstead, Mrs. Benny Ziedman, Lila Lee, Carmelita Geraghty, Patsy Ruth Miller, Mrs. John Stahl, Sheila Geraghty, Mrs. Leonard Tufford and Hedda Hopper.

Collection: Hollywood MagazineJuly, 1934