View Full Version : Reefer Madness Claims Another Victim (Thelma White, 1910-2005)

01-13-2005, 07:53 AM
From the L.A. Times:

Thelma White, whose portrayal of a hard-boiled addiction queen in the 1936 movie "Reefer Madness" was largely forgotten until the film resurfaced in the 1970s as a cult classic, died of pneumonia Tuesday at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. She was 94. Born in 1910, White was a carnival performer as a toddler, progressed to vaudeville, radio and movies, then worked as an agent and producer for many years. During her heyday as an actress, she appeared alongside such legendary performers as W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, Red Skelton and Jack Benny.

What secured her place in Hollywood history, however, was a movie so awful that its memory still made her shudder 50 years later. "Reefer Madness" was a low-budget propaganda film written by a religious group to broadcast the dangers of marijuana. "I'm ashamed to say that it's the only one of my films that's become a classic," White, who made more than 40 movies and shorts during the 1930s and 1940s, told The Times in a 1987 interview.

After stints with the Ziegfeld Follies and Earl Carroll revues, White turned to movies, signing in 1928 with RKO Studios, which cast her in B movies such as "A Night in a Dormitory," "Sixteen Sweeties" and "Ride 'Em Cowboy!" In 1935, the musical and comedy actress, to her horror, was asked to star in a movie about teenagers lured into marijuana addiction. White was to play one of the adults who push the "demon weed" on unsuspecting youths. As a starlet still on contract to RKO, she had little choice but to accept the role of Mae, a tough blond who lures high school students to her apartment for back-parlor sex and marijuana orgies. The characters come to dismal ends one of the addicted teenagers shoots his girlfriend when she comes to rescue him, while another victim of the "evil weed" runs over and kills a hapless pedestrian. The "ghastly menace" of marijuana sends other characters to the insane asylum and death by leaping out a window.

In later years, White produced television and movie projects, including the 1969 feature "Tom Jones Rides Again," in which she also co-starred.
Wed three times, she said her third marriage, in 1957, to actor and costume designer Tony Millard was her happiest. Until his death in 1999, they lived in a modest Panorama City bungalow with a collection of 300 videotapes, including two copies of "Reefer Madness."

Ike Witt
01-13-2005, 08:49 AM
The sad thing is, she had to have known that it could have happened to her.

01-14-2005, 10:04 AM
This bit of totally unverified gossip from the Daily Telegraph, always known for their colorful obits:

While her film career continued to drift along in the B-movie league, she became known in Hollywood for her exotic private life. She had affairs with members of both sexes Marlene Dietrich was one of her lovers - and married three times.

01-14-2005, 10:42 AM
The sad thing is, she had to have known that it could have happened to her.
What? Pneumonia?

Ike Witt
01-14-2005, 11:01 AM
What? Pneumonia?

No. It is obvious that the demon weed finally caught up with her.

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