Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Don't expect to see her playing Joan of Arc

Showgirl. Gangster's Moll. Knife-thrower's assistant. Comedienne. Paramount starlet.

The name Iris Adrian is little-remembered these days, but in her seven decade career she worked with just about everybody in the Golden Age of Hollywood - George Raft, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Elvis Presley, Jean Harlow, Buster Keaton, Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, Jack Benny... The list is immense.

She was an uncredited player in Charley Chase silents in the 20s, a "Gold Digger" in 1937 and "Emma Baxter" in The Love Boat in 1986. In between she played "Floozie", "Waitress", "Saloon Girl" and "Hostess" and similar character roles in a catalogue of movies and TV shows ranging from Roxie Hart to the Herbie films. As her mini-biography on IMDB would have it:
"Sugar", "Pepper", "Pearl", "Sunny", "Goldie", "Bubbles"; all those are nicknames borne by petite actress Iris Adrian in several of the 160 movies she made. With such names, don't expect to see her playing Joan of Arc or Electra but it remains that all these pet names reflect her winning femininity, its sweetness, its spiciness, its radiance.
In 1989, director, writer and producer John Gallagher interviewed the effervescent Miss Adrian, and the resulting transcript, peppered with fabulous long-forgotten names - hoodlums such as Big Fat Frenchy, Moey Dimples, Owney Madden and Bugsy Siegel, and Hollywood characters like Brian Donlevy ("he smelled like Scotch"), Marion Martin, Fritz Lang ("a pain in the neck"), Dana Andrews ("he was quite a drinker!"), Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall - (and her theory as to why Joan Crawford became a monster to her kids) is a truly fascinating read.

Visit the National Board of Review site for the full inteview.

Iris Adrian (nee Hostetter), (29th May 1912 – 17th September 1994)


  1. You gotta love character dames like this. Will read the entire interview right after this! Moving ahead a decade or two, I'm obsessed with Barbara Nichols, whose roster of characters included Blossom La Tour, Gaye Swinger, Chickadee Laverne, Bunny Easter, and Lola Fandango.

    By the way, darling, that second to last photo is of Lana Turner...!

    1. I became fascinated by Miss Adrian the moment I started reading about her - there is, after all, nothing like a dame..!


      PS Thanks for spotting the Lana/Iris confusion (silly me!) - I've replaced the offending mugshot.


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