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Serial Report
    - Chapter Ninety-Eight
    - Chapter Ninety-Seven
    - Chapter Ninety-Six
    - Chapter Ninety-Five
    - Chapter Ninety-Four
    - Chapter Ninety-Three
    - Chapter Ninety-Two
    - Chapter Ninety-One
    - Chapter Ninety
    - Chapter Eighty-Nine
    - Chapter Eighty-Eight
    - Chapter Eighty-Seven
    - Chapter Eighty-Six
    - Chapter Eighty-Five
    - Chapter Eighty-Four
    - Chapter Eighty-Three
    - Chapter Eighty-Two
    - Chapter Eighty-One
    - Chapter Eighty
    - Chapter Seventy-Nine
    - Chapter Seventy-Eight
    - Chapter Seventy-Seven
    - Chapter Seventy-Six
    - Chapter Seventy-Five
    - Chapter Seventy-Four
    - Chapter Seventy-Three
    - Chapter Seventy-Two
    - Chapter Seventy-One
    - Chapter Seventy
    - Chapter Sixty-Nine
    - Chapter Sixty-Eight
    - Chapter Sixty-Seven
    - Chapter Sixty-Six
    - Chapter Sixty-Five
    - Chapter Sixty-Four
    - Chapter Sixty-Three
    - Chapter Sixty-Two
    - Chapter Sixty-One
    - Chapter Sixty
    - Chapter Fifty-Nine
    - Chapter Fifty-Eight
    - Chapter Fifty-Seven
    - Chapter Fifty-Six
    - Chapter Fifty-Five
    - Chapter Fifty-Four
    - Chapter Fifty-Three
    - Chapter Fifty-Two
    - Chapter Fifty-One
    - Chapter Fifty
    - Chapter Forty-Nine
    - Chapter Forty-Eight
    - Chapter Forty-Seven
    - Chapter Forty-Six
    - Chapter Forty-Five
    - Chapter Forty-Four
    - Chapter Forty-Three
    - Chapter Forty-Two
    - Chapter Forty-One
    - Chapter Forty
    - Chapter Thirty-Nine
    - Chapter Thirty-Eight
    - Chapter Thirty-Seven
    - Chapter Thirty-Six
    - Chapter Thirty-Five
    - Chapter Thirty-Four
    - Chapter Thirty-Three
    - Chapter Thirty-Two
    - Chapter Thirty-One
    - Chapter Thirty
    - Chapter Twenty-Nine
    - Chapter Twenty-Eight
    - Chapter Twenty-Seven
    - Chapter Twenty-Six
    - Chapter Twenty-Five
    - Chapter Twenty-Four
    - Chapter Twenty-Three
    - Chapter Twenty-Two
    - Chapter Twenty-One
    - Chapter Twenty
    - Chapter Nineteen
    - Chapter Eighteen
    - Chapter Seventeen
    - Chapter Sixteen
    - Chapter Fifteen
    - Chapter Fourteen
    - Chapter Thirteen
    - Chapter Twelve
    - Chapter Eleven
    - Chapter Ten
    - Chapter Nine
    - Chapter Eight
    - Chapter Seven
    - Chapter Six
    - Chapter Five
    - Chapter Four
    - Chapter Three
    - Chapter Two
    - Chapter One

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Chapter Ninety-Eight

Dorothy Herbert and “Mysterious
Dr. Satan” (Pt. 1)

by Boyd Magers

Dorothy Herbert.Dorothy Herbert joined Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1930 and became a featured star with her trick riding act and aerialist work. Republic head Herbert J. Yates scouted and signed her for “Mysterious Dr. Satan” (‘40) even though her riding talents may have been better showcased in a Western. Assigned the role of Professor C. Montague Shaw’s secretary, Alice Brent, the equestrienne displayed her riding skills in chapters 1 and 8. Bound and gagged in a stable in Ch. 1 she still managed to mount a horse, jump the steed through a window with her hands still tied behind her back and ride to tell star Robert Wilcox of Dr. Satan’s presence.

In the circus publication BANDWAGON (March/April 1989) Dorothy related her experiences at Republic. “Mr. Yates ordered a screen test and I was told to report on Monday. Outfitted in western garb, I was driven to the location. I did not know what I expected, but certainly not a test on a horse! There stood this big white horse with a huge, silver mounted western saddle. The wrangler who was holding him told me he was one of the three ‘look alikes’ which were used in ‘The Lone Ranger’ serial. Silver had two doubles, each had a different function. This was the one they used when a scene called for a rear. The director informed me I was to gallop up to a line and rear the horse. No one bothered to tell me what the cue was to make the horse rear. I cantered the horse up to the line and pulled on the reins. The horse made what was to me, after the horses I had been used to, a very half-hearted rear. ‘Okay,’ called the director, ‘the next one will be a take.’

Dorothy Herbert title shot from "Mysterious Dr. Satan".Far from satisfied, I thought to myself: I am not going to settle for this, I am going to have to make it look good. This time, when I reached the line, I yanked on the reins and the horse reared all right…and fell over backwards. I picked myself up out of the dirt and was in for another surprise. The director was jumping up and down and shouting to the cameraman, ‘Did you get it? Did you get it? That will make a great stock shot.’ The horse was unharmed and the director called for another shot, which must have suited him because after it was over they loaded everything and we went back to the studio. Several times a week I would drive to the studio and work with the writers in regard to the stunts I would be doing in the picture. The script was finished at last, and they gave me a copy. It was to be a serial, ‘The Mysterious Dr. Satan’. I was cast as the professor’s secretary and, from the looks of things, I would spend most of my time rescuing him and his daughter from all sorts of predicaments. I studied the first episode over and over. Then I found, to my dismay, they did not start at the beginning and go through the story, but were going to shoot an episode I hadn’t even read yet. The first day of shooting took place indoors on a sound stage. Someone handed me a briefcase and I was told by the director to enter a room filled with an assortment of people and, without attracting the attention of any of them, convey to a large man wearing a mask, the secret formula I had hidden in the briefcase. All of these greedy people were seeking to get their hands on this formula. This action was to take place without speaking a single word. I had not been coached on anything like this. I opened the door and walked in, letting the door slam shut behind me, causing everyone in the room to look in my direction. The director called for us to try it again, quietly. This time, after turning around and pushing the door shut gently, I gazed up at this hunk of man, who appeared to be eight feet tall and, with the look of a dying calf, gave him a sickly grin and glanced down at the object I was holding in my clammy hands. Everyone seemed surprised except the director. He was stunned. I had a feeling I wasn’t making much of a hit with the director when he inquired, ‘How many pictures have you appeared in?’ And I told him, ‘None, so far.’ That’s when I heard him mumble, ‘I get them all.’ I guess he figured I was someone’s movie-stuck girlfriend who was being pushed off on him. I was taken to a far-off corner, and when my instructor felt I was ready for it, they shot the scene. Nothing more was said until a couple of days later.

Robert Wilcox, William Newell, Dorothy Herbert, Edwin Stanley, C. Montague Shaw and Ella Neal meet around the control console prior to a demonstration in Ch. 2 of Republic's "Mysterious Dr. Satan".

All of those concerned with this episode had been driven to another studio that had a large sound stage, with a boat and real water. I was dressed in a navy blue sailor suit trimmed in white. When I walked onto the set I noticed another girl dressed in the same sort of outfit as mine, and with the same kind of hairdo. As I drew near, I could not help but overhear the argument which she was having with one of the prop men; it had to do with the stunt she had been requested to perform. I walked over to the director and told him I was supposed to do all of my own stunt work and not use a double to which he quipped, ‘And I assume you are going to do the horse stunts, too?’ At that time I weighed 105 pounds and hardly looked like a roughneck rider. Why this man had not been informed of the work I was to do, I will never know. One of the scriptwriters, who happened to be standing nearby and heard him, said, ‘That’s right, she does her own stunts. That is why she is in the picture in the first place. In fact, most of these stunts were her own original suggestions, or else devised from some she has already done.’ In the scene which they were about to shoot, six men were having a fight; the good guys and the bad guys. I was supposed to climb up a ladder, grab a rope with one hand, swing off, and hit a couple of the bad guys in the back, knocking them down. I was then to pick up a gun that had been dropped on the deck, and shout, ‘Hold it, boys!’ Now this was not much of a stunt for an aerialist. They had a rope run through a pully, with two men holding it. When the time came, they would give the rope a yank, and down I would come. I told them the way I thought it ought to be done and was informed they had been performing such stunts since before I was born. Came time for the shot, someone called, ‘Action,’ they yanked, the rope slipped, giving them a rope burn, and they let go; I went sailing across the deck on my backside. Now, the floor was made of rough lumber, and the shot they got (I saw it later) was me howling, ‘Splinters!’ I was sent to the studio doctor and, after he removed the splinters, we again tried the scene. This time they agreed to give my way a try and it worked fine.” (See below.)
(More with Dorothy Herbert online in SR#99.)

A Serial Queen By Either Name

Interview by Boyd Magers

Lorna Gray/Adrian BoothSerial Queen Lorna Gray aka Adrian Booth, 99, died April 25 (2017) in Sherman Oaks, CA. Born Virginia May Pound in Grand Rapids, MI, her family split up after her father’s millinery business failed during the Great Depression. She and one brother went to live with an Aunt. Entering a beauty contest she became Miss Grand Rapids, then Miss Michigan. She went to Chicago as a singer then NYC to perform in vaudeville when she was about 17. A talent scout spotted her in a Cleveland Revue and sent her to Hollywood where she became Lorna Gray in ‘37. Altho under contract to Columbia for nearly two years she never met the infamous studio head, Harry Cohn.  “Never. Thank the Lord. I was never happy at that studio; it’s not a nice studio. I was scared to death most of the time. I kept pretty much to myself.”

Lorna Gray with Don Douglas as "Deadwood Dick".For “Deadwood Dick” (‘40 Columbia) Lorna/Adrian told us, “Director James Horne was a bundle of energy. It was crazy because I did my own hair…long curls. We had a scene on location that was a cattle stampede. (Ch. 5—ed.) Just before the stampede, the mayor and a whole lot of people were on a stand. They had red, white and blue gauze all around the side. On one side of the stand were funny little rickety steps. Now it’s getting ready for the stampede…they shot off pistols and the cattle have already started to stampede…the camera’s rolling—and Don Douglas and I have to walk down these rickety steps. I’m in long skirts under skirts, under skirts…and we have to tear open the gauze, run underneath the stand, tear open the gauze on the other side and run about 15 yards to a barn door, get in the barn door and all the time, these cattle are stampeding. The assistant director, the only assistant director I’ve ever worked with that was not nice, had a fit with me because one of the curls came off! Little did I know you should never do things like that. You should always have a double. Another time, I think it was that same serial, we were on location and I had to be rescued off a rock. Cliff Lyons came to me afterward and said, ‘Honey, you’re new in this business, aren’t you? You don’t have to do these things. This is what they pay doubles for.’ That’s when I learned a few things. Another time in ‘Deadwood Dick’ there’s this little, bitty house, burning on three sides, the camera is facing the side that is not burning. (Ch. 10—ed.) I’m in long skirts and have to climb up on a chair, climb up on this funny old wooden kitchen table, climb up on a box, then pull myself up through the roof while this thing is burning. And I did it!”

Lorna Gray with Robert Paige as The Black Falcon in "Flying G-Men".Again at Columbia for “Flying G-Men”, she recalls, “Those three men were all very, very nice. (Robert Paige, Richard Fiske, James Craig—ed.) I was riding my bicycle and I stopped at a telephone booth to call my agent because I was really broke and I got the part. That meant at least five weeks salary which could carry you for almost a year. The boys had a lot of fun with each other and we enjoyed making the serial.”

Now at Republic Helen Thurston usually doubled Adrian. “She was marvelous. She was married at one time to Jimmie Thurston, who had a tragic accident on his motorcycle. He was a madman.” “Perils of Nyoka” is probably her most famous serial as the evil Vultura. “One day I could pretend I was Bette Davis and the next Katherine Hepburn and the next Carole Lombard. I adored them. I would think about them and play somebody different every day and nobody would know the difference. Bill Witney was, without a doubt, one of the nicest, most wonderful directors I ever met. He was very young, very new, but knew exactly what he wanted. When Bill wanted to go into the service during the war, he wanted to lose some weight. I said eat steak and tomatoes. He did and lost the weight and went into the Marines. I had the great honor once of being a part of the memorial to Kay Aldridge, who played Nyoka. She was a crazy girl to work with. We had such fun on location. The most fun was riding across the field in that chariot with the gorilla. I did drive the chariot.”

Lorna Gray as the evil Vultura in Republic's "Perils of Nyoka".

Lorna Gray and Dick Purcell in "Captain America".John English directed “Capt. America”. “John was more of an intellectual than a lot of other people I worked with. I always felt he would go a long way as a director. He knew exactly what he wanted. He was very quiet about it and very efficient. It was wonderful to be able to play with such a good actor as Lionel Atwill in that serial He had instructed his cohorts to put me inside of this glass case to asphyxiate me. (Ch. 15—ed.) It was a large case on brass legs, high up off the ground with three brass straps across the top you screwed down. They put some stuff that looked like gas inside of it. Atwill got so mad, so excited, because they couldn’t get the screws unscrewed and I was losing oxygen. They just barely got me out in time, I was almost fainting. He was a dear…and George J. Lewis was in it, he was my friend. We were at Columbia. We made a lot of pictures together. George was in ‘Federal Operator 99’.”

Lorna Gray, Jack O'Shea and George J. Lewis have Tom London tied up in "Federal Operator 99".

With a name change to Adrian Booth she has stated “Daughter of Don Q” was her favorite serial. “Outside of Vultura. But I enjoyed the bow and arrow work and jujitsu… and all the tricks. There was nothing I couldn’t do. (Laughs) One day they said I had to shoot a bow and arrow. They brought me the bow and arrow and said, ‘You put the bow here then you let go and you’re supposed to hit that target over there.’ So the camera says roll and I put the arrow in the bow, pulled it back and shot it right into the target! One of the crew members came up to me afterward and said, ‘Adrian, I didn’t know you were interested in archery.’ I said, ‘I’m not.” And he said, ‘You just couldn’t do it that well if you weren’t interested in archery.’ So we tried it and I had a black and blue mark on my elbow for a week. Could not do it again. When you’re before a camera you can do things you can’t ordinarily do…you just do it.”

Now with a name change to Adrian Booth she received top billing as Dolores Quantaro, the "Daughter of Don Q", seen here with Kirk Alyn.

Adrian’s Serial Filmography


Serials: Flying G-Men (‘39 Columbia); Deadwood Dick (‘40 Columbia); Perils of Nyoka (‘42 Republic; Captain America (‘43 Republic); Federal Operator 99 (‘45 Republic); Daughter of Don Q (‘46 Republic).

 

 

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