February 11, 2014
Adolphe Menjou and Shirley Temple from Little Miss Marker.

Adolphe Menjou and Shirley Temple from Little Miss Marker.

Shirley Temple Black, who passed away Monday at the age of 85, has a Culver connection.

Her co-star in her first big hit, Little Miss Marker, was famed actor Adolphe Menjou, who attended Culver Military Academy for one year. His graduation year is listed as 1907. He was a member of the inaugural class of inductees into the Culver Arts & Letters Hall of Fame in 2004.

The pairing of Temple and Menjou came in 1934 when Fox Film Corporation lent Temple to Paramount Studios for Little Miss Marker.

Temple was cast as a child left with a bookie Sorrowful Jones (Menjou) as a marker for her father’s gambling debts. The child then reforms the gang of gamblers, bookies, and horse dopers. The mini-adult role of solving all the problems for the adults around her became a standard in Temple’s movies.

According to The New York Times, Menjou described the young Shirley Temple as “’an Ethel Barrymore at 6,’” adding that she was “’making a stooge out of me’” at the time they were filming the movie.

Menjou, who attended Cornell University, was often described as “suave” and “debonair,” according to the movie database IMDb. Noted for his black mustache and impeccable taste in clothes, he earned the distinction as the nation’s “best dressed man” nine times. Fluent in six languages, he was often cast as a European even though he was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Cleveland.

Menjou made several silent films during the 1920s, including The Three Musketeers (1921), The Shiek (1921), and Charlie Chaplin’s A Women of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923).

He started the 1930s playing opposite Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich in Morocco (1930). Then Menjou received his only Oscar nomination for best actor with his performance as editor Walter Burns in The Front Page (1931). That led to major roles in several classic films like A Farewell to Arms (1932), Little Miss Marker (1934), A Star Is Born (1937), and Stage Door (1937). He also played slick lawyer Billy Flynn opposite Ginger Rogers in the Chicago adaption Roxie Hart (1942).

During World War I, he served as a captain in the Ambulance Corps in France. During World War II, Menjou entertained the troops overseas and made assorted radio broadcasts in a variety of languages.

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Posted in Alumni Culver Academies Fine Arts
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