Told by Cora Mullican (their mother)
The Springfield Sunday Union and Republican
July 2, 1939
Lane Sisters Advanced With Advice, Encouragement and Determination of Their Courageous Mother
Hollywood, July 1–(AP)–The Lane girls grew up, with the counsel and encouragement and skimping of their courageous mother.
Only a mother who has reared a family of five girls in a small mid-western town can understand the courage it takes to face the spoken and implied ridicule of the neighbors and the disapproval of the husband and father, when those girls, with their mother’s blessing, leave home in peruit of theatrical careers.
Mrs. Cora B. Lane, whose real name is Cora B. Mullican, is such a woman. She talked freely recently about the problemes she faced as a mother and a wife when five girls, Leota, Martha, Lola, Rosemary, and Priscilla left home in quick succession to serve burning inner ambitions which she suspects they may have inherited from her.
Mother Recalls Ridicule
This plump, capable-appearing woman, sitting in a swivel chair between her desk and an overloaded card table, filled with files and correspondence, in the semi-privacy of her bedroom-office, looked on those early days. She recalled the ridicule she got from her neighbors in Indianola, Ia., whien it was learned that two of her daughters, renamed Leota and Lola Lane by Producer Gus Edwards, had gone on the stage.
The girls’ father was a strict man,” she says. “He did not approve of the stage as a career for them. He wanted them to be like other girls in small towns.”
Some time later a second shock reverberated about the community when Martha, second of the daughters and a capable pianist, eloped and married a childhood sweetheart. When, a few years later, the youngest, Rosemary and Priscilla, decided that they, too, wanted careers, the mother went with them and the home was broken up completely.
Father Never Changed Mind
The father, a dentist who died about a year ago, never changed his mind about the careers the girls had picked out. He remarried and Mrs. lane heard he had seen one of the girls’ pictures.
When the family lived in Iowa, says Mrs. Lane, they were never prosperous and there was little extra money to pay for the priveledges she was determined the girls should have. Piano, dancing, and voice lessons required extra cash and this the mother obtained by taking boarders into the big, rambling house.
Indianola was a town of less than 1000. There was a good musical school at the local college and the mother saw to it that each girl in turn was registered there.
“I made most of the clothes the girls wore,” she says, “but that was what nearly every mother in Indianola did. All the girls helped with the housework.”
After she took the two youngest girls to New York she felt definitely committed to their careers and she never left them. She traveled with them when they were with Waring’s Pennsylvanians, maintaining a home in New York at the same time. She managed their business and financial affairs. She was their agent in negotiating their movie contracts.
Recently, after living in a rented house for more than a year, Mrs. Lane invested some of the girls’ savings in a home of their own, a pleasant hilltop bungalow at the crest of Laurel canyon. Annuities are their only other investments.
“I am trying to find a reasonable security for their future,” Mrs. Lane explains, “although I od not feel that anything can be certain in show business.”
It was in this newly-purchased house that Mrs. Lane told this story of the break-up of her own home for what she believed was her duty to her daughters. Priscilla was working at the studio and Rosemary was having a message and could be heard and not seen. Lola had just cabled from honolulu that she was returning on the next boat. She maintains a seperate home nearby. Leota is in New York studying opera and Martha, who has given Mrs. Lane her first grandchild, lives in Iowa.
“We know what it is to be poor,” Mrs. Lane said. “I am anxcious that the girls got no exaggerated idea of their ability to earn money. They are of age, of course, but I see to it that they drive inexpensive cars, get plenty of sleep, and have limited wardrobes.
The two girsl share a bedroom and while they occasionally disagree, says their mother, they are intensely loyal to each other–and to the others of the fivesome.
The mother has no favorite among her daughters. “I like the ways of some of them better than the others,” was her way of putting it. “But there is no favorite daughter in this family. Priscilla is the baby, but I don’t think she has been spoiled–much.”
Mrs. Lane hopes her old friends in Indianola understand her reasons for allowing her home to break up. She may go back there this summer to renew old friendships. The town, she says, is proud of the girls now and each new picture is a special event in the theaters there.
Three of the girls are in a picture now called “Daughters Courageous.” Their real life story could be described by changing one word in that title: “Mother Courageous.”