Jacqueline White’s decade-long career spanned only two studios—MGM (‘42-‘46) and RKO-Radio (‘47-‘52). It was at the latter where she made her three westerns, “Return of the Bad Men” (‘48) with Randolph Scott, “Riders of the Range” (‘49) with Tim Holt and “The Capture” (‘50) with Lew Ayres.
“I started at MGM in May of ‘42; I was only 17 (born in Los Angeles Nov. 26, 1924), and of course I was given training in their series pictures, like ‘Dr. Gillespie’s New Assistant’ and ‘Swing Shift Maisie’.”
Her first lead was in “Air Raid Wardens” (‘43) with Laurel and Hardy. “They were very nice men—we chatted between takes but there was no joking around off camera. They were at the end of their careers at this time. When I was a little girl, a friend of mine managed to get us passes—and we saw Laurel and Hardy shoot one of their famous scenes. Then, years later, here I was actually making a movie with them! What a thrill that was! They were charming and a delight.”
Jacqueline White’s first western came shortly after she arrived at RKO—the big-budgeted “Return of the Bad Men”. “Randolph Scott was my leading man, such a gentleman, so nice to be around. I was excited to be cast in it. We had a lot of good conversations on the set but when it was time to go home, he went to his house and I went to mine. We never socialized together.”
Also landing his first major part at RKO was 10 year old Gary Gray. “A nice little boy! I like Gary, and I did get to know him! He was so sharp and bright. A very charming, good looking youngster."
About Gabby Hayes, “Oh, he played my father! Another delightful person to work with. The main thing I remember about Gabby, in addition to the fact that everything was real (laughs)—his beard, not his teeth, is that he was constantly talking about camping out. It was something he enjoyed doing.”
Jacqueline’s nemesis in “Badmen” is Anne Jeffreys. “Anne’s sister was my stand-in at MGM.”
In “Return of the Bad Men”, “I never knew from day-to-day if what I studied last night would be used the next day. They kept changing the script as we went along. Director Ray Enright was very good, especially great with the fistfights. Ray was a delightful, jolly chap.”
Of all the ‘Bad Men’ in the film, Jacqueline states, “I only saw the ones in the scene with Gabby and me at the bank. I do remember one guy—a young, good looking man who could only grow one hair on his chin! Yet they needed a full beard!” (Walter Reed told me this was no doubt his good friend Robert Bray who had trouble growing a beard.—ed.)
One of the bad guys was Walter Reed. “I loved Walter, but I didn’t get to know him in this picture. We later did several films together—I played his sister in ‘Mystery in Mexico’, which we actually shot on location in Mexico! He later played my husband as well. Walter kept us in stitches—all the time! Such a funny guy—with hilarious stories to tell. It’s a shame the studio didn’t use those talents. He’d make a great comedian! I would compare him to Red Skelton, who I worked with at MGM in ‘The Show-0ff’.”
“I remember one time, Red went up to the eccentric Marjorie Main, who was taking rather large pills. Red said to Marjorie, who was a real character, ‘Lordy, Marjorie, the last time I saw someone take a pill that big he won the Kentucky Derby.’”
About “The Capture”, Jacqueline recalls very little. “I was only on it at the beginning and didn’t do much, but Lew Ayres and I became friends.”
As to “Riders of the Range”, the star has a humorous anecdote. “My highschool friend was Ann Connolly, the daughter of Walter Connolly and Nedda Herrigan. She used to date Tim Holt and we’d go down and watch him play in polo matches. I met Jack Holt, Tim’s father, at Ann’s house. Then, years later, I am making a picture with Tim! So, I talked to Tim quite a bit.”
“We shot the picture up at Jack Garner’s ranch, who rented out the place for lots of movies. Tim’s wife was with him and also along was his wife’s dog, a Doberman Pincher! Well, this dog hated Tim! He would have killed Tim, had he not been controlled. The dog growled whenever Tim came into the room. It was terrible. The dog was jealous and it made it very difficult doing the picture with that dog on location. Whenever I’d go to the motel room in the evening to talk to Tim and his wife, that old dog would be there. It had to be locked up if she wasn’t in the room; it was that dangerous. I don’t think that marriage lasted very long after that! (Laughs)”
“Richard Martin was a charming guy—real nice and tall! A good looking fellow. Robert Clarke played my brother and, like me, we were both no longer under contract to RKO. We were both hired back as freelancers!”
Jacqueline’s career slowed down after her 1948 marriage to oilman Bruce Anderson. “Bruce didn’t want me to work, but I did do a few pictures—even after the birth of our first child. I did retakes on ‘The Narrow Margin’, my last, when I was pregnant with our second. Then we moved from California and I never worked again. In recent times, my children have gotten interested in my career. One son even found a place that sells movie posters and bought quite a few. They are now hanging on display. Occasionally, there will be a ‘Jacqueline White Night’ around here. My life today is so different. The picture days I consider a wonderful experience I had. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it was ‘my other life’.”
Jacqueline’s Western Filmography
Movies: Return of the Badmen (‘48 RKO)—Randolph Scott; The Capture (‘50 RKO)—Lew Ayres; Riders of the Range (‘50 RKO)—Tim Holt.