Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Toby Wing

Martha Virginia Wing was born in Virginia on July 14, 1915. Toby found herself in Hollywood in the early 1920's when her father became an assistant director at Paramount. As as result of his position, Toby ended up a juvenile extra in several films her dad was working on, and had been in 11 silent films by 1926. Her next film role, after finishing high school, was as a Goldwyn girl in Eddie Cantor's Palmy Days (1931). Of her next twenty films, beginning with a Mack Sennett short, Jimmy's New Yacht (1932), up through Torch Singer (1933), she was uncredited in sixteen. Those where she was credited were minor roles. What is interesting is that even with those small roles, her beauty and personality made her one of the most photographed "uncredited" actresses of all time. Toby particularly stands out, but still uncredited, in 42nd Street (1933), and one might have thought that would allow for a breakthrough. It wasn't to be. She appeared in another twenty films from 1934, Including Murder At The Vanities, credited, to her final film in 1938, Sweethearts, as an uncredited telephone operator.

On the personal side, Toby was said to be one of the most engaging and engaged actresses in Hollywood at the time. After several engagements, including one to Jackie Coogan, she married world-record setting Eastern Airlines pilot Dick Merrill, who was 22 years her senior. They married in June, 1938 and remained together until his death in 1982.

Toby, a chorus girl, with very few prominent appearances on film, still made her mark, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame to prove it. Toby died in March of 2001 in her home state of Virginia.

Double-click on the images for a larger view.

Publicity photo for 42nd Street.

Warner Baxter is in a tough spot.

Toby glows throughout the "Young and Healthy" number.

Publicity photo for 42nd Street, featuring uncredited Toby.

Frame grabs from The Kid From Spain (1932), another uncredited role, with the star of the film.

Publicity still, wearing an outfit from The Kid From Spain.

Publicity still for The Kid From Spain.

Modern Screen - December 1933, pictures Toby for her role in This Day and Age, again uncredited.

Frame grabs of Toby in Torch Singer and Baby Face (1933).

Frame grabs from Murder At The Vanities. Toby has about 15 seconds near the beginning of the film, and about 2 minutes in the final scene.

Frame grabs from Mr. Boggs Steps Out (1938). Toby is credited, but between her and Helen Chandler, the split is about 90/10, with Toby having the 10.

Undated publicity still.

Photoplay Magazine -September 1934, when they still hadn't mastered color imagery. Consuelo of Claghorne is Toby's role in the Cary Grant film Kiss and Make Up (1934).

Two publicity stills at the beach and on the rocks.

Love the image, not sure of the film or what's actually going on.

Pensive publicity still.

Four undated stills.

Toby Wing - What do you think - Allure?


Flapper Flickers + Silent Stanzas said...

Toby's the very definition of allure! She's one of my favorites of the 1930s. So gorgeous and bubbly! ^_^

Raquel Stecher said...

I hadn't heard about Toby Wing until Jonas did a colorization of one of her pictures (which he thought was Jean Harlow but you pointed out it was Toby Wing). Thanks so much for this post.

And yes that picture you pointed out, what's going on there? Art Deco surrealism?!

Thombeau said...

Wishing you a most alluring 2011! Cheers!


A said...


Anonymous said...

Great post! I love Toby Wing, she's so striking and cute (strikingly cute?).

Melissa said...

Just looking at Toby lifts the spirits. What a cutie she was and I bet quite a firecracker.