The Golden Age of Hollywood conjures images of glamorous women and montages of sweeping epic films. But we wondered—what might life have really been like for an aspiring performer of the time? The story of one young Wilmingtonian provides a glimpse into this world.
Gloria Warren, born Gloria Weiman in Wilmington in 1926, was the daughter of a Russian father and Hungarian mother. She attended David Harlan Grammar School and Warner Junior High School. When Gloria was 13, her mother took her to audition for radio producer Charles Martin. After hearing her sing, dance, and play piano, Martin believed that Warren had a future in show business. The family made the move to California within a year.
At age 15, Warren signed a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers. The movie company hoped that in doing so, they could rival the success of MGM’s star, Deanna Durbin. In 1942, Gloria Warren appeared in her first film, Always in My Heart, which also starred Kay Francis and Walter Huston. In fact, a premier of the movie was held right here at a newly renovated Queen Theater. While in town for the event, Gloria made several appearances including a radio interview at WILM, a visit to Fort DuPont to dine with soldiers, a tour of the News-Journal Company offices, and a fashion show at the Wilmington Junior Miss Shop. Certainly a busy schedule for a young starlet!
Warren also talked about her new life in Hollywood. Still in school, she reported that her studies took up about three hours each day. When asked what she planned to do with the money she earned, she replied, “I got a fur coat with part of it. It’s the one thing I always wanted. I had to coax and coax to get it, but I did at last. I’m just crazy about it. Most of the money is put in a trust for me.” Her mother also talked about keeping a close watch on her daughter’s eating and sleeping schedule, stating that, “She [Gloria] gets two baked potatoes a week and no other starches. I keep sweets away from the house too. I see that she gets ten hours sleep every night. I’m afraid it will be a long time before she really sees much of Hollywood.”
In 1946, Gloria married Hollywood business man Peter Gold. She went on to appear in other films throughout the 1940s including Cinderella Swings It (1943), Don’t Gamble with Strangers (1946), Dangerous Money (1946), and Bells of San Fernando (1947).
Gloria Warren and other Delaware actors, musicians, and artists will be featured in our upcoming exhibit, Steppin’ Out: Under the Stars opening April 1. Join us as we celebrate the history and glamour of local nightlife and the opening of World Café Live at the Queen Theater!
See you there!