During the past two weeks, Comet Over Hollywood has looked at Olympic athletes who found Hollywood fame after exhibiting their athletic prowess. Some Olympians were scouted for Hollywood but their stars didn’t rise has high as others.
Eleanor Holm was an Olympic swimmer who competed for the United States in 1928 summer Olympics in Amsterdam where she finished fifth in the 100-meter backstroke. At the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, Holm won a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke.
Between the 1928 and 1932 Olympics, producer Florenz Ziegfeld hired her to perform in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway in 1930. She left the show to train for the 1932 Olympics. After the 1932 Olympics, she was placed under contract to Warner Bros. for $500 a week, but despite studio-hired acting coaches, she declared herself a spectacular flop as an actress, according to her 2004 obituary.
Holm was to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and where she would be the first woman to compete on the United States Olympic team three times.
Holm boarded the ship to sail for Berlin for the 1936 games and when she got to Berlin, she was no longer on the team. Olympic president Avery Brundage expelled Holm for breaking curfew and drinking while traveling to Berlin.
“All I did was drink a couple of glasses of champagne,” she told People magazine in 1996. “I was married, singing in a nightclub with my husband’s band. I was not exactly a child.”
In 1938, Holm starred aside fellow Olympian Glenn Morris in “Tarzan’s Revenge.” This was the only film she was in. After this she married producer Billy Rose from 1939 to 1954. She starred in Rose’s New York World’s Fair Aquacades, swimming with fellow Olympian gold medalists Johnny Weissmuller in the 1939 show and Buster Crabbe in 1940.
Glenn Morris competed on the United States team at the 1936 Berlin summer Olympics and won a gold medal for the decathlon. After the Olympics, Morris had a brief Hollywood career.
His film career started with an uncredited role in “She Married an Artist” (1937) at Columbian Pictures, and he was the fourth Olympian to play Tarzan.
Distributed through 20th Century Fox, Morris starred in a low budget Tarzan film, “Tarzan’s Revenge” (1938) which co-starred with Olympic swimmer Eleanor Holm.
After the Tarzan film, Morris acted in one more film, “Hold That Co-Ed” (1938) before leaving Hollywood.
Murray Rose is an Australian swimmer who won six Olympic medals at the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics. All three of the medals at the Melbourne Olympics were gold and he won a gold medal in Rome as well as one silver and one bronze.
After graduating from college at the University of California, Rose entered a brief Hollywood career. His first film was the beach movie “Ride the Wild Surf” (1964) with Tab Hunter, Peter Brown, Shelley Fabares and Fabian. Columbia called him “one of the best bets for stardom in a long time,” according to Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969 by Thomas Lisanti.
From 1964 to 2008, Rose made a total of 10 film and TV appearances including an appearance on the TV shows “Dr. Kildare” and “Patty Duke.” He also had a role in the 1968 film “Ice Station Zebra” with Rock Hudson and Ernest Borgnine.
However, he was not passionate enough about acting to continue perusing it, according to his 2012 obituary.
Don’t miss our other Olympic spotlights:
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Did Hollywood just pilfer Olympic swimming pools? It seems like a lot of swimmers went to Hollywood – especially for Tarzan films (Crabbe, Weismuller, Bennett, and Morris).
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