CALLING ALL CONSHY OLD-TIMERS
I Need A Little Help With This One!
By Jack Coll
I can’t say, nor can anyone say that they know everything about Conshohocken. So, I’m looking for a little help from someone who just might remember this, let me start at the beginning of how this tale came about.
This 92-year-old former Conshohocken resident wanders into our frame shop last week and starts to chat, I’ll talk Conshohocken to anyone as long as I have the time. He identifies himself as Vince Improto, and I came to find out he was a 1948 graduate of Conshohocken High School. So, we got chatting about Conshohocken and a number of residents and former residents like George Snear, Vince Flocco Sr., and a few dozen others.
It turns out that Vince’s father James Desimone and Vince’s mother Anna (Vitale) was the one- time owner of the bar located at Seventh Avenue and Maple Street, known as the “Luna Café” back then. Vince told me he was born and grew up in the apartment above the bar where his family lived for many years. Vince told me a number of story’s including how him and a couple of friends managed to burn down the wrap-around porch that once went around the outside of the bar from Maple Street around to West Seventh Avenue. Vince claimed that Franny Traveline and Joe Machett were his partners in crime on the torch job.
So, then Vince starts to tell me this story that got really interesting because I’d never knew or even heard about this. Vince stated that when he was like 13 or 14 years old he was playing out front of the bar and this beautiful frosty blond woman pulled up in a nice looking car and asked if he lived over the bar to which Vince replied “Yes.” The beautiful blond asks if his mother was home because she stated that she also lived above the bar at one time and just happened to be in the area and wanted to take a tour of the apartment for old times’ sake.
So, Vince’s mother Anna accompanied the peculiar blond who told Anna her name was Marion Martin and that she was acting and living in Hollywood, California but lived in the second-floor apartment for a number of years here in Conshy. It turns out that Marion’s real name was Marion Supplee and was born on June 7, 1909 and was the daughter of a well-known, well-to-do Philadelphia executive of Bethlehem Steel and for a number of years lived on the Main Line and enjoyed all the perks of the rich and famous during the 1920’s. Marion attended exclusive main line schools including a finishing school in Switzerland and once intended on becoming a physician.
All the best laid plans for Marion came to an end when her family’s fortune was lost in the Wall Street Crash of 1929, so she decided to take a different career path. Marion became an actress and dancer and in 1933, made her film debut in “She’s My Life, I’m Her Willie.” and subsequently played minor roles, often as a showgirl. Several of her early roles were in musicals where she found some success as a singer.
By the mid-1930’s, Marion was dubbed “The World’s Most Beautiful Showgirl” on Broadway and “Hollywood’s blond menace” on film, brassy-actress Marion Martin was a minor predecessor to Marilyn Monroe’s peroxide bombshell, yet her brazen persona was closer to the seductive leaning of Mae West.
Marion went on to star and appear in a number of better films during the 1940’s with movies like “Boom town” where she appeared as a Dance Hall singer who briefly romanced Clark Gable. She appeared in a lot of un-credited films like “Star Spangled Rhythm” with Bob Hope and “Irish Eyes are Smiling.” She played Belle Farnol in the TV Series “The Lone Ranger” and appeared in a number of Three Stooges short films.
During Marion’s 25-year film career, (Marion appeared as a stripper in many of the movies she starred in) she appeared in more than 75 films and movies. Marion ended her career with the unbilled part of “La Belle La Tour” in the cornball Judy Canova comedy western “Oklahoma Annie” (1952) She retired in later years with roles drying-up, she committed to volunteering in hospitals. She was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Marion died at age 77 of cardiac arrest on August 13, 1985 in Santa Monica, California, Marion was married and the couple had no children.
In the early 1950’s James and Anna sold the bar at Seventh Avenue and Maple Street to Charlie “Dee” Internati, who later sold it to Big John Cassinelli.
So how about-it Conshohocken, does anyone out there remember hearing about Marion Supplee living in Conshohocken, or visiting Conshohocken. Perhaps you’ve heard your parents or grandparents talking about Marion. I can tell you that the Supplee family was a familiar name to Conshohocken and vicinity for many years so I don’t have a lot of doubt that Marion might have had relatives living in the borough but in all my years of research I would have thought I’d run across some information about Marion, but I never have, so any and all information would be appreciated.
I wanna thank Vince for stopping by the shop, I’m always happy to talk Conshohocken.
Hey Vince, thanks for the memories!
Photographs above include a current shot of the Old Time Saloon located at Seventh Avenue and Maple Street and a number of photographs from Marion Martin’s heydays in Hollywood.