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Wairarapa Times-Age - 2021-06-11

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Horace the Hollywood A-lister

LOCAL NEWS | FEATURE

GARETH WINTER writes.

Horace Falloon was born in 1900, the son of John “Jack” Falloon and his wife Sarah Ann ‘Alice’ Rayner. His father was one of a family of Irish immigrants to Wairarapa, his mother part of a large Carterton family. His father’s brother married his mother’s cousin. Jack Falloon died in 1908, and his mother shifted her small family to Pahiatua. Horace is mentioned in the newspaper of the time as a young performer, giving a recitation at one concert, and singing at another. He was also very unlucky, particularly when it came to horses. He injured himself quite badly in two separate incidents involving ponies when he was a young teenager. He was educated at the Pahiatua District High School and Wellington College, before studying at Victoria University. In 1922, he left New Zealand, bound for the United States, where he wanted to pursue an acting career. He obviously decided that “Horace Falloon” did not have the right ring for a movie star and changed his name to Jack Glendower. The change was so complete that his mother, who moved to America with him, became known as Mrs Glendower. Naturalised under the Falloon name in the 1930s, he officially changed his name to Glendower in 1951. As Jack Glendower, he appeared in a number of films with notable stars, especially Doris Keane and the renowned vaudeville performer and female impersonator Julian Effinge. He was also reported to be a “scenario writer”. He later moved his attention back to the stage and worked with Doris Keane once again, this time as her son in ‘The Czarina’. He was also working as a nurse and chauffeur to a wealthy art critic for whom his mother was a housekeeper. In 1929, he and his mother were left $4000 cash and about $150,000 in Californian property when his employee died. The gift was disputed in court by other beneficiaries, but the courts found in favour of the Glendowers. Later that year, he was reported to be acting in a single reel talkie being produced as part of a series. When he visited his hometown in 1930, he spoke of some of the stars he knew. He said Al Jonson, the highest salaried talkie artist was the greatest drawing card, and Maurice Chevalier was a man with more personality than any other he had ever met. Among the female actors, Bessie Love and Betty Compson have made the most sensational leap to fame, and Bebe Daniels as a talkie artist was “a greater rage than ever”. By this time, the Ballance boy was becoming well-known in Hollywood, described as an “ambitious producer”, and gaining a reputation as an impresario. In 1933, still living with his mother, his house in Highland Avenue was described as the most popular. A Californian Jewish newspaper reported: “Here colourful Bohemia from all ends of the earth finds itself chatting on friendly terms. It is a Bohemia presided over by Jack’s delightful mother who smilingly dispenses tea and cakes to all comers – and here the Bohemia pattern alters – Bohemia never tasted cakes like these!”. “Mr Glendower, who is Hollywood’s youngest impresario is to present the first of his concert series at the Hollywood Concert Hall.” In late 1935, Jack Glendower, described in the newspapers as a “socialite”, married Gladys Grinstead, previously Safford. She was 11 years older than him, and although she already had a daughter to her first husband, the screenwriter Durward Grinstead, they were to have no children. His stepdaughter, Ann Grinstead, was also a juvenile performer, and later an opera singer. The following year, Alice Falloon, now calling herself Glendower, revisited Pahiatua. Among other topics, she told the reporter she reporter she knew Shirley Temple. “Yes, she replied, I live only a few doors from Shirley’s home. She is a very pretty little girl and is not in any way spoilt. She is a grand little artist, but she does not yet understand the significance of the pictures she takes part in, but thinks she is only playing a game.” She also talked of her son’s friendship with the silent movie star Mary Pickford, saying she frequently appears at his concerts and socials. By 1942, the Glendowers had moved north to San Mateo, in the San Francisco Bay area, where Jack registered for WWII purposes. He described himself as being self-employed. His acting days seemed to be behind him, but he was following another line of business. Somewhat surprisingly, considering his accidents back in Pahiatua, he became heavily involved in the horse racing industry, both as an owner and as a prominent administrator. He acted as the racing manager for the California State Fair for a number of years. Jack Glendower suffered a bad stroke in 1962 and died in 1974. He and Gladys are buried in Los Angeles.

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