Friday, October 16, 2015



This is Joan Kemp.  In the 1940s, she was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, known to the Public as "Wee Joan Kemp".  By the time she was 12 years old*, Wee Joan had made a million dollars, but unfortunately her parents drank it away - the Jackie Coogan law be damned! - and by the time she entered her twenties, Joan Kemp was lapsing into obscurity.

Wee Joan Kemp's most famous character was known as Bubbles.  She was featured in a franchise of several movies, two of which were "Bubbles Goes West" and "Bubbles In Love".  That last film was probably her last as the character, as she was on the threshold of adulthood, soon to leave her teen years.

In 1960, when she was just turning twenty, Joan Kemp was cast in director Austin Young's last film, "Cry Of Destiny".  Young had always been a big budget director until "Cry Of Destiny", which he shot on a shoestring budget but he only completed three quarters of it.  But unfortunately he died under mysterious circumstances before he could finish it.  It would be almost thirty-five years before Elaine Brown, the daughter of Hollywood producer Boyce Brown, discovered the unfinished movie and was determined to finish it.  Her father agreed for Monolith Studios to finance the production (to the tune of 40 million dollars), spurred by a nostalgic rebirth of interest in Austin Young's life and career.

One of those obsessed with Young was a writer named Fritz Randall.  "the self-appointed expert on the great man's life and death" was working on a book about the director, focusing especially on his mysterious death which could have been suicide.  But Fritz was convinced it was murder.  However, before he could confirm his suspicions, Fritz Randall was also murdered in a similar fashion.

Joan Kemp was hoping that the revival of "Cry Of Destiny" would re-energize her career as well.  She had already begun filming a bit role in the latest Todd Paris movie, thanks to some small intervention by Boyce Brown.  It wasn't to be, however.  The solution to the deaths of both Austin Young and Fritz Randall threw all productions at Monolith Studios into turmoil and not many were restarted afterwards.  And that included the Todd Paris movie.

During those years "in the wilderness", Joan Kemp might have still continued to work, but not at the heights to which she was accustomed.  I suspect there were commercials, produced by the ad agency McMann & Tate; low-budget movies Boyce Brown was forced to make by the studio - movies that his daughter called "chop-socky turkeys".  Perhaps some of them might have been directed by another has-been, Cortland Evans.

At the lowest in her career, during the swinging sixties, Joan Kemp might even have participated in soft-core porn films filmed overseas in countries like Caronia and Glendorra where her reputation would not have been as well-known as it was in the States.  (There is real world precedence for this - see the career of Carroll Baker in Italy during the early 1970s.)

Joan Kemp is still alive, but it's doubtful that she is still in the business.  However, Wee Joan Kemp as Bubbles will be immortal......


* To make the timeline work, this is one case in which the character can't be the same age as the actor.  If Joan Kemp was the same age as Kim Darby, she would have been only about 13 years old when she made "Cry Of Destiny".  It doesn't work for the storylline.  So I think she was born in 1940, not 1947.

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