Friday, April 27, 2018


I ran my first (official) "UnScene" post on Wednesday - dealing with one of the most famous unseen TV characters, Mrs. Columbo.  Today we're running another UnScene post, another one about a 'Columbo' character.  She's pretty much a trivial figure in the grand scheme of things, but she is the inspiration for the new "UnScene" feature.


In Toobworld, Dorothea Page was a silent film actress who not only easily made the transition into the talkies of the sound era, but she became an even bigger star.  She lived in a reclusive mansion on Sunset Boulevard until the very end - which came one Sunday night in September of 1979.

According to Big George Tuddell, an LAPD detective who worked that case, there was a million dollar necklace around her neck as she lay there dead in her bed.  According to the report he related to Lt. Frank Columbo, that necklace was still around her neck when she arrived at the Haviland mortuary.  Arthur Haviland's protege in the funereal arts, Eric Prince, took possession of the body in order to prepare Ms. Page's mortal remains for eternal rest.

But according to Mr. Prince, there was no necklace with the body and he insisted that the police should inspect the premises right away to remove any taint of guilt from himself and the funeral home he was representing.

(As it turned out, Prince had taken the necklace and shoved it deep into the mouth of the corpse, down into the throat of the movie queen.  The police never thought of looking in there, so after they left, Prince cremated Ms. Page's body, knowing full well that the million dollars' worth of diamonds would survive the extreme heat.  He fenced the necklace through Edward Fenelle AKA Eddie the Fence and used this windfall to buy into his mentor's business, which was the foundation of his empire.)

Sheik Yarami in the Page mansion
(Could that be a painting of Dorothea
in one of her movie roles?)

After Ms. Page's estate was settled, Sheik Yarami, a Suari politician once allied with the First Secretary of the Suari legation, bought her Sunset Boulevard mansion.  Yarami was a movie fanatic who cast derision upon television and he considered the chance to own a piece of movie history like Dorothea Page's mansion a major coup.  (Dr. Eric Mason had nothing on the Sheik as a movie memorabilia collector!)

Erik Prince eventually was brought to justice by Lt. Columbo for the murder of gossip columnist Verity Chandler, during which Columbo also solved the case of those missing diamonds belonging to Dorothea Page.

Those are the basic facts from the 'Columbo' episode "Ashes To Ashes".  And now, let the fun begin!

Dorothea Page was discovered by director W.W. Von Reinbein, who was looking to mold a young actress into the next Viola Normandy, his previous "Trilby".  

Von Reinbein worked with Miss Normandy on the 1925 silent film "Veil Of The Desert" in two different productions.  First, with Mark LeMartin as her leading man and then - when the Toobworld timeline was revised due to Martian interference - with Valentine Rudolfo as the Sheik.  (As a young man in Suaria infatuated with the movies, Sheik Yarami would often fantasize that he was the sheik in "Veil of the Desert".)

Viola Normandy quickly tired of the director's tyrannical ways and left his employ to work with other movie directors.  The breaking point came when Von Reinbein's nephew, Albert Burkhalter, visited his uncle's sound stages during a trip to America.  Seeing the actress, long an object of desire in the young man's fantasies, was too much for Albert - he tried to force his attentions on Viola in her dressing room. 

Only the influence exerted by the Monolith Studio heads was able to quell the publicity of the assault from reaching the Los Angeles Tribune and Hollywood gossip-mongers like Letitia DeVine.  (Albert fled back to his native Germany where he fell under the sway of a charismatic Wesen demagogue who had just recently re-founded the Nazi party.....)

Needing a new star for his pictures, Von Reinbein found Dorothea working in the secretarial pool right there at Mammoth Pictures Studios.  Together they began with several movies capitalizing on the success of his earlier picture "Veil Of The Desert" - "Princess Of Zalamar", "The Emir of Elkabar", and "Barabian Dreams".

In the beginning, Dorothea specialized in "waif" roles, but as she got older she became more assured in her performances.  Working with other directors after the death of Von Reinbein (coronary while making love to Winifred Glover), she tackled more sophisticated material in such films as "Night Train To Boravia", an espionage film.  

In one of her last silent movies she portrayed Jenny Martin in a bio-pic about scientific detective Quentin Everett Deverill, which many people thought took liberties with the truth.  Little did the general public know that the movie didn't even come close to mirroring the fantastical adventures undertaken by Deverill.  And that's just the way the shadow ops group known as UNReel* wanted it.  

With the advent of sound, Dorothea Page made a smooth transition into the talkies as she had a voice which was as beautiful as the rest of her.  And unlike other actresses of the period, she lacked the vanity which prevented some of the others from graciously bowing to the inevitabilities of age.  She accepted that with the passage of Time, she could still find work once she graduated to older character roles.

One of her silent movies, "The Bad, Bad Lady" was remade as a talking picture, but with Damita Syn as the star.  (Coincidentally, the director was Z.Z. von Schnerk, who won the Ollington Award for Best Cinematogaph Film of 1931 - the same year Dorothea won the Ollington for her performance as Lady Marjorie Bellamy in a Sylver Screen Picture about the sinking of the Titanic.)

She formed her own production company and found the financing for many of her films, giving her the control she wanted over the movies she made.  But that independence was challenged when she was working on "Pleasure Domes" and it nearly drove her out of the business.  The movie was being directed by a man named Ronstadt with whom she had worked in the past and with whom she had once had a romantic relationship.

But Mammoth Pictures Studios panicked with the cost overruns and took the project away from Ronstadt, hiring a young director named Cortland Evans to take over the completion of the film.  

Evans had only just turned 30 and Miss Page  was doubtful of his abilities.  However, "Pleasure Domes" was well-received by the critics and more importantly by the audience.  She would re-team with Cortland Evans on two more movies - "Mansions In The Dust" (the last movie which Barbara Jean Trenton would ever make), and the ill-fated anti-war film "Flanders Fields".  (It was advocating peace and might have succeeded if they finished it.  Unfortunately the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor during production so it was quietly shelved for decades.)

During the Great Depression, she even appeared in a few escapist movie musicals like the notorious "Daddy's Boy" from 1938.  (Luckily her scenes as the mother didn't survive.)  And she shocked her fans when her character was revealed to be the murderer in the first sound adaptation of "Death In Havana", the Inspector Lucerne novel by Abigail Mitchell.  (Mitchell''s first published novel back in 1916 was the basis of a silent movie, but Page was not involved in that production despite her friendship with Zeta Theta Beta sorority sister Abigail.)  

The audience was not shocked that she played the killer, but that the murderer in the novel was a different character altogether.  Despite the long-standing friendship they shared, the unauthorized revision to the script caused a rift between Page and Mitchell.  It would be decades before they finally reconciled.  (Which was sad, as there had always been those rumors about how close their friendship really was.)

Dorothea Page was not averse to the option of playing the bad girl in the movies.  In the 1930s Saturday serial "Bride Of Chaotica", she played the high camp Queen Arachnia battling the heroic Captain Proton.  

Related image
Centuries after the original movie serial.
which starred Dorothea Page,
Starfleet Captain Janeway played
Queen Arachnia in the Voyager holodeck.

She also produced and starred in a series of Westerns for Monolith Studios, based on the character Nicodemus Legend.  They were adapted from the dime novels by Ernest Pratt, but she switched Legend's gender to female, playing the role as Nicodemia Legend.  (Unlike the earlier case with Abigail Mitchell, there was no protest from Pratt... as the dime novelist had been dead for some time.)  

Among her co-stars in these Westerns were Chaps Callahan and ten year old Sam Garrett - who would grow up to star in his own TV Western, 'Jed Clayton, U.S. Marshal'.

Matronly roles became her standard after World War II (making her the Toobworld counterpart to Myrna Loy.)  And when television became more popular, Dorothea Page recognized the impact the new medium would have and so she threw herself into the work.  She wasn't going to withdraw into the life of a recluse as her fellow actress Barbara Jean Trenton did.  

She took on roles in many early TV series, running the gamut from sitcoms to Westerns.  (She played the mother of Rance McGrew in one episode of his Western and recurred as the nosey neighbor in 'The Cooper Clan'.)  She even appeared on the children's show 'Mr. Peanut' with Wally Walter, and on an Easter-themed special presentation of 'Alan Brady Presents'.

Dorothea Page eventually did retire due to health issues but she didn't seclude herself in her Sunset Boulevard mansion.  She would often throw parties for her friends among the old guard of Hollywood like Baxter Kellogg, Nora Chandler, and director Cortland Evans.

Dorothea never married, but she was never lacking for lovers.  Perhaps the great love she lost was military intelligence officer Richard Hannay, whom she met through Quentin E. Deverill while making that semi-biographical movie about Deverill.  Unfortunately, the demands of his crusade against the German machinations leading to war prevented Hannay from exposing her to the risks of being with him.  She left England soon after finishing that film and never returned.

She often had short, meaningless affairs with many of her leading men, but she usually tossed them aside in favor of the younger co-stars - Racy Tracy Rattigan, Stephen Collins (No, not that one.  That one is still alive.  This one was murdered.) and Rocky Rhodes.  She did like her young men...

But those rumors about her and Irwin Kroner, who played her grandson "Little Corky Carter", were just that - sick, disgusting rumors.  He was only ten when he was a star and washed up by the time he was eleven!  You perverts!

As was the case with Alistair Cooke in the Real World and Lupe Velez in both the Real World and Toobworld, Dorothea Page will sadly be mostly remembered for the circumstances of her death.  I only hope this conjectural mythography will serve as a better memorial than for her being remembered for having a million dollars worth of diamonds shoved down her throat before cremation.

There is only one thing left to address with this salute to Dorothea Page.  As with everyone in Toobworld, she needs somebody to have portrayed her in order to give her a "life" in television - even if she never actually showed up onscreen.  (There are plenty of TV characters we only know from photographs seen during the course of an episode.)

Some people are represented in Toobworld by their Real World counterparts playing themselves.  But most TV characters have been embodied by actors portraying them. 

In this case, I ended up choosing Lillian Gish to be the actress who could have brought the character of Dorothea Page to life on TV; mostly in flashbacks from her early years in the silent films yet right up to her final days on her deathbed.


  • 'Columbo'
  • 'My Favorite Martian'
  • 'Hogan's Heroes'
  • 'Grimm'
  • 'Lou Grant'
  • 'The Adventures Of Superman'
  • 'The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.'
  • 'The Avengers'
  • 'Perry Mason'
  • 'Danger Man'
  • 'Q.E.D.'
  • 'Hannay'
  • 'The Beverly Hillbillies'
  • 'The Monkees'
  • 'Murder, She Wrote'
  • 'Doctor Who'
  • 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'
  • 'Veronica Mars'
  • 'Legend'
  • 'Star Trek: Voyager'
  • 'The Twilight Zone'
  • 'Monk'
  • 'On The Air'
  • 'The Dick Van Dyke 'Show'
  • 'Marcus Welby, M.D.'
  • '77 Sunset Strip'
  • 'Family Affair'
  • 'The Hero'
  • 'Barney Miller'
    'Burke's Law'
  • 'The Avengers'
  • 'Hannay'
  • 'Upstairs, Downstairs'
  • 'The Lot'
  • 'Frasier'
  • 'Masterpiece Theater'
  • 'The Adventures Of Fu Manchu'
* Regular visitors to my blog will know about UNReel.  They were an off-shoot of UNIT which financed works of fiction, whether it be books, movies, TV shows, even musicals and comic strips, to disguise the actual exploits of certain individuals in the world.  This was done either to cover up their crimes (as was the case with Fu Manchu) or to allow the heroes and adventurers to continue in their work without disturbance from interlopers.  Better for all concerned if they were treated as being fictional by the general public.

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