Boles in 1930
|Born||October 28, 1895|
Greenville, Texas, U.S.
|Died||February 27, 1969 (aged 73)|
San Angelo, Texas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Marcelite Dobbs (m.1917–1969; his death)|
Boles was born in Greenville, Texas to a middle-class family. He graduated from the University of Texas in 1917.[note 1] He returned to Greenville, where he was selected by an out-of-town producer to act in an opera at the King Opera House. This experience convinced John that he preferred music and the stage to the preference of his parents, who wanted him to pursue a medical degree.
While en route to a career as actor and singer, Boles earned a living by teaching French and singing in a high school in New York state and working as business manager and interpreter for a one-year tour of Europe by a student group. The latter venture led to his studying under tenor Jean de Reszke.
Boles married Marcelite Dobbs (1896-1982) in 1917, and they remained married until his death; they are interred at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
He started out in Hollywood in silent movies, but became a huge star with the advent of talkies. After the war, Boles moved to New York to study music. He quickly became well known for his talents and was selected to replace the leading man in the 1923 Broadway musical Little Jesse James. He became an established star on Broadway and attracted the attention of Hollywood producers and actors.
He was hired by MGM to appear in a silent film in 1924. He starred in two more films for that studio before returning to New York and the stage. In 1927, he returned to Hollywood to star in The Love of Sunya (1927) opposite Gloria Swanson, which was a big success for him. Unfortunately, because the movies were still silent he was unable to show off his singing ability until late in the decade. In 1929, Warner Brothers hired him to star in their lavish musical operetta The Desert Song (1929). This film featured sequences in Technicolor and was a box-office success. Soon after, Radio Pictures (later known as RKO) selected him to play the leading man in their extravagant production (the last portion of the film was photographed in Technicolor) of Rio Rita, opposite Bebe Daniels. Audiences were enthralled by his beautiful voice, and John Boles suddenly found himself in huge demand. RCA Victor even hired him to make phonograph records of songs that he had sung in his films.
As soon as Rio Rita was completed, Boles went back to Warner Brothers as the leading man in an even more extravagant musical entitled Song of the West (1930) that was filmed entirely in Technicolor. Shortly after this film, Universal Pictures offered John Boles a contract, which he accepted. He starred in a number of pictures for them, most notably the all-Technicolor musical revue entitled The King of Jazz (1930) and a historical operetta entitled Captain of the Guard (1930). In 1931, he starred in One Heavenly Night (1931), which would prove to be his last major musical.
Boles portrayed Victor Moritz in Frankenstein (1931). He starred with Irene Dunne in a 1934 film adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel The Age of Innocence directed for RKO Radio Pictures by Philip Moeller, and took the role of Edward Morgan in Curly Top (1935), starring Shirley Temple. In 1937, Boles starred alongside Barbara Stanwyck in the King Vidor classic Stella Dallas. In 1943, he co-starred with Mary Martin and Kenny Baker in One Touch of Venus.
Boles retired from the screen and stage in 1952, after starring opposite Paulette Goddard in Babes in Baghdad. He later went into the oil business and lived the last 13 years of his life in San Angelo, Texas.
- The Sixth Commandment (1924) - John Brant
- So This Is Marriage? (1924) - Uriah
- Excuse Me (1925) - Lt. Shaw
- The Love of Sunya (1927) - Paul Judson
- The Shepherd of the Hills (1928) - Young Matt
- We Americans (1928) - Hugh Bradleigh
- Fazil (1928) - John Clavering
- Virgin Lips (1928) - Barry Blake
- The Water Hole (1928) - Bert Durland
- Man-Made Women (1928) - John Payson
- Romance of the Underworld (1928) - Stephen Ransome
- The Bride of the Colorado (1928) - John Barrows
- The Last Warning (1929) - Richard Quayle
- The Desert Song (1929) - The Red Shadow
- Scandal (1929) - Maurice
- Rio Rita (1929) - Captain Jim Stewart
- Song of the West (1930) - Captain Stanton
- Captain of the Guard (1930) - Rouget de Lisle
- King of Jazz (1930) - Vocalist ('Song of the Dawn' / 'It Happened in Monterey')
- Resurrection (1931) - Prince Dmitri Nekhludoff
- Seed (1931) - Bart Carter
- Frankenstein (1931) - Victor Moritz
- Good Sport (1931) - Boyce Cameron
- Careless Lady (1932) - Stephen Illington
- Back Street (1932) - Walter D. Saxel
- Six Hours to Live (1932) - Karl Kranz
- Child of Manhattan (1933) - Paul
- My Lips Betray (1933) - King Rupert aka Captain von Linden
- Only Yesterday (1933) - James Stanton 'Jim' Emerson
- Beloved (1934) - Carl Hausmann
- I Believed in You (1934) - Michael Harrison
- Bottoms Up (1934) - Hal Reed
- Stand Up and Cheer! (1934) - Himself
- Wild Gold (1934) - Steve Miller
- The Life of Vergie Winters (1934) - John Shadwell
- The Age of Innocence (1934) - Newland Archer
- The White Parade (1934) - Ronald Hall III
- Music in the Air (1934) - Bruno Mahler
- Curly Top (1935) - Edward Morgan
- Orchids to You (1935) - Thomas Bentley
- Redheads on Parade (1935) - John Bruce
- The Littlest Rebel (1935) - Capt. Herbert Cary
- Rose of the Rancho (1936) - Jim Kearney
- A Message to Garcia (1936) - Lieutenant Andrew Rowan
- Craig's Wife (1936) - Walter Craig
- As Good as Married (1937) - Alexander Drew
- Stella Dallas (1937) - Stephen Dallas
- Fight for Your Lady (1937) - Robert Densmore
- She Married an Artist (1937) - Lee Thornwood
- Romance in the Dark (1938) - Antal Kovach
- Sinners in Paradise (1938) - Jim Taylor
- Road to Happiness (1941) - Jeff Carter
- Between Us Girls (1942) - Steven J. Forbes
- Thousands Cheer (1943) - Col. Bill Jones
- Babes in Bagdad (1952) - Hassan
- Muchachas de Bagdad (1952) - Hassan (final film role)
- Boles' obituary in the Chicago Tribune says, "World War I interrupted his pre-medical studies at the University of Texas. He never went back."
- Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 213. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
- Bowers, Emilie (March 31, 1935). "That Boles Charm---'It's Devastating'". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 54. Retrieved September 7, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "John Boles, Singing Film Actor, Dies". Chicago Tribune. Illinois, Chicago. February 28, 1969. p. Section 1A - Page 5. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
- "Marcelite Dobbs Boles". Find A Grave. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
- "("John Boles" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame - John Boles". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
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