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Anita Louise

  Anita Louise  
Anita Louise Autograph  

Like Johnny Washbrook, Anita Louise Fremault began her acting career as a child.  Born January 9, 1915 in New York City, her first acting performance was on Broadway at age six.  She made her screen debut three years later in the 1924 silent film The Six Commandments.  She dropped her surname in 1929, and continued acting through her teens, gracefully making the transition into a very successful adult film career.  The beautiful five-foot-three blonde actress became a star in opulent costume dramas such as Madame DuBarry (1934), A Midsummer’s Night Dream (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), and Marie Antionette (1938).  She was selected to do a screen test for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind in 1938, but the role went to Vivien Leigh. 


Water Pump Anita Louise
                                                Anita Louise as “Nell” with Johnny Washbrook and Flicka


Her youthful beauty enabled her to continue in ingénue roles through the 1940’s, and she essentially ended her long career in motion pictures with Bulldog Drummond in 1947.  At the time she was cast for the role of the loving and caring mother Nell McLaughlin in My Friend Flicka, she had been married to Buddy Adler—a top executive with 20th Century-Fox—for more than a decade, and they had two small children at home.  However, after having been semi-retired since her marriage, she decided that she wanted to return to acting fulltime, and her husband thought that this would be the perfect vehicle for her.  Before the Flicka series, she had made some appearances during her marriage though.  She was a substitute host on the popular Loretta Young Show in 1953during Young’s recuperation from surgery.  After Anita decided to leave My Friend Flicka—which was apparently the primary cause for Fox to end the series--she hosted Theater Time (1957) and Spotlight Playhouse (1958) on television.  She also had roles in TV series like Mannix (1967) and Mod Squad (1968).  After Buddy Adler’s death from lung cancer in 1960, she married businessman Henry Berger on April 12, 1962.  They were wed until her death.

The following article, which appeared in the July 19-25, 1958 issue of TV GUIDE (Triangle Publications, Inc.), gives some insight into the costume challenges she had to meet to keep up her image.  It also sheds light on her professional dedication and shows how active she was in community work.  The article was titled "Loretta and I are both hams:  Acting is still a lark for Anita Louise, hostess of Miss Young's Summer Reruns."

"For one day's work, accomplished late in May, Anita Louise received a handsome check.  She paid out a good deal of it for a number of handsome dresses and lent further credence to the feeling that Anita Louise is working full-time in television.  Actually, Miss Louise has worked very little in the year and a half since production stopped on her My Friend Flicka series.  Last summer, in a single day, she filmed the 10 hostess lead-ins for The Loretta Young Show reruns.  This past May she did 13 hostess lead-ins for the current batch of Loretta's re-runs, which started on CBS July 1 as Red Skelton's summer replacement under the title Spotlight Playhouse.  In the intervening year she did just three shows--a Playhouse 90, a Millionaire and one of Loretta's episodes, which, incidentally, will be included in the reruns series. "

"Miss Louise, whose age is a discreet secret but who looks remarkably like the same Anita Louise who appeared in such pictures as 'Judge Priest,' 'The Story of Louis Pasteur,' 'Anthony Adverse,' 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' 'Madam Du Barry' and many others, works today merely for the fun of it.  'Loretta and I,' she admits frankly, 'are both hams.'"

"Married 18 years to Buddy Adler, production head at 20th Century-Fox and one of the most respected men in the motion picture industry, Anita presides over a Georgian colonial home that includes two children and an exceptionally friendly Dalmation, is quite active in charity work--and still loves to get back in front of a camera now and again.  Anita's first experience with a camera came at the age of 3, when she emerged rather abruptly as a child model.  At 5 she was playing in her first picture, 'The Sixth Commandment.'  At 6 she appeared on the stage with the great Walter Hampden in 'Peter Ibbetson.'"

Anita Louis Publicity Photo

"Well educated by private tutors and professional children's schools, Anita is one of Hollywood's more unusual women--a youthful-looking veteran whose career has ranged from silent pictures to live TV and whose private life has been impeccable.  She 'retired' when her first child, Melanie, was born, but came back in 1950 to investigate TV at a time when virtually all movie stars were staying safely away from the medium.  Her first appearance was on the old Ken Murray Show, on which she did a nine-minute dramatic skit and played the harp.  She also did an early Fireside Theater for producer Frank Wisbar and some other TV films whose names she doesn't even remember."

 "Anita was a little worried about the clothes she would wear as the Spotlight Playhouse hostess, figuring she would have to get at least 10 more new dresses for the 13 shows.  'You have to furnish your own,' she says, 'unless it's a period piece or some other kind of costume.  I keep all my "old" clothes in a big closet in the cellar.  Styles change so that five years later an old dress is right back in fashion again and then I don't have to rush out at the last minute and buy one for a modern-dress show.'  When the time came, she went over her wardrobe with 20th Century-Fox's executive costume designer, Charles LeMaire, and decided she would have to have eight new gowns.  Four others of her own were thrown in, although one of them had to be redone.  In all, Miss Louise wears 12 gowns, repeating one of them."

"The eight designed by LeMaire, ranging in cost from $250 to $1000, become part of her personal wardrobe--and are paid for out of her personal account.  The fact that she is the wife of one of the studio's top executives cuts no ice whatever in such matters.  'Mrs. Spyros Skouras, wife of the company's president, once asked me to design a headdress for a costume ball,' LeMaire muses.  'I designed it, and it cost her something like $120, as I remember it.'"

"Derwin Abby, who directed the 13 lead-ins, would just as soon spend the rest of his life working with Anita.  'We took all the long shots first, then changed the lighting setup for the closeups.  That meant she had to make 24 costume changes instead of 12.  She could change faster than we could change the lights.  She's the kind of girl who could pack for a three-week trip in three minutes flat and come out of it looking as unruffled as she does on the screen.  What a pro!'"

"An old friend describes Anita as having 'the brain of a brilliant executive, but enough of a female brain to hide it.'  The brain has been used extensively in helping to promote the UCLA Medical Center, of whose auxiliary she has been president for the past two and a half years, with another term to come.  When 20th Century-Fox decided (if, indeed, it wasn't decided for them) to tie in the premiere of its 'South Pacific' with a deserving charity, the charity turned out to be none other than that very same medical center.  'The fact,' grins a friend, 'that the president of the auxiliary and the vice president in charge of production at Fox happen to be Mr. and Mrs. Buddy Adler had everything in the world to do with it.'"

"Anita also serves as a board member for the Los Angeles Community Chest, has been active in the Heart Fund drive locally, was involved in the Eisenhower Caravan during the 1952 elections and just this past April was given an award by the California Federation of Women's Clubs for her many civic activities.  'Anita,' says her former press agent and still good friend, 'has never looked for personal credit for anything.  She has a tremendous amount of balance and has never lost her uncanny knack for the graceful touch.  When she was a kid in this business she had a fragile, cameo, Desden-like beauty and was a bit on the dream-girl side.  She still has the beauty, but the dream girl has developed a pretty sharp mind.'"

She succumbed to a stroke in Los Angeles on April 25, 1970, at the tragically young age of 55.  During her later years, she had devoted a great deal of her time in helping with philanthropic causes such as the National Hemophilia Foundation and the Children’s Asthma Research Center.  She was laid to rest in the Garden of Memory at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of her contribution to Motion Pictures, at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.

Autographed Photo of Anita Louise
Autographed Photo of Anita Louise


Baltimore Newspaper
Anita Louise and Flicka grace the color cover of a television
programming guide for a Baltimore newspaper’s Sunday issue

Anita Louis
Anita Louise appearing in the 20th Century Fox Television Series My Friend Flicka



Click here to visit the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) to review Anita Louise's Filmography data.

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