As announced in the Fourth Estate clipping shown to the right Wampas, or the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers was formed in February 1921.
The Association was made up of press agents for the various motion picture studios and is recalled primarily for it's (mostly) annual selection of (usually) 13 Baby Stars.
As journalist Dan Thomas described the Wampas Baby Stars in 1934 when the latest and, unbeknownst at the time, last batch of Baby Stars were chosen, "One of the most highly-prized honors which a rising young screen actress can win is to be elected a Wampas Baby Star."
While you'll find many recognizable, a few even legendary, names on the Wampas rolls detailed below and listed to the right, you're also likely to encounter several names you've never seen before.
When Wampas announced the official end to the awards and their organization in October 1935 secretary Lindsley Parsons explain their origin:
"It was formed in 1920 to exploit the press agents of the picture industry as a group and to make them an integral part of the business.
"The baby star idea was to gain recognition for the organization, but we also had an altruistic motive in that we felt there were many capable youngsters in Hollywood who deserved to be brought to the producer's attention."
Parsons cited a lack of interest and the fact that some of Wampas' work had been taken over by the producer's association as reasons for their disbanding.
Wampas left behind a group of names that continue to fascinate.
Wampas Baby Stars of 1922
Left to right, lower row: Mary Philbin, Patsy Ruth Miller, Bessie Love, Louise Lorraine, Helen Ferguson and Kathylyn McGuire.
Upper row: Pauline Starke, Marion Aye, Jacqueline Logan, Claire Windsor, Colleen Moore, Lila Lee, Lois Wilson.
Wampas Baby Stars of 1923
Middle: Ethel Shannon
Left of Shannon, left to right beginning at top: Betty Francisco, Kathleen Key, Helen Lynn. Bottom row: Pauline Garon, Jobyna Ralston, Margaret Leahy.
Right of Shannon, left to right beginning at top: Evelyn Brent, Dorothy Devore, Laura La Plante. Bottom row: Virginia Browne Faire, Eleanor Boardman, Derelys Perdue.
Wampas Baby Stars of 1924
Top row, left to right: Dorothy Mackaill, Lucille Ricksen, Clara Bow (largest shot in center), Margaret Morris and Carmelita Geraghty.
Bottom row, left to right: Julanne Johnston, Gloria Grey, Hazel Keener (top, left of Bow), Elinor Fair (bottom, left of Bow), Ruth Hiatt (top, right of Bow), Blanche Mehaffey (bottom, left of Bow), Alberta Vaughan, Marion Nixon.
Wampas Baby Stars of 1925
Top row, left to right: Natalie Joyce, Betty Arlen, June Marlowe, Joan Meredith (large standing figure), Evelyn Pierce, Violet La Plante (Listed as Violet Avon here).
Middle row, left to right: Madeline Hurlock, Duane Thompson, Lola Todd (below Meredith), Dorothy Revier, Ena Gregory.
Bottom: Anne Cornwall at left, Olive Borden at right.
Wampas Baby Stars of 1926
Left to right: Dolores Costello, Vera Reynolds, Mary Astor, Marceline Day, Edna Marion, Mary Brian, Fay Wray, Janet Gaynor, Sally Long, Joyce Compton, Dolores Del Rio, Sally O'Neil, and Joan Crawford.
Image courtesy of Michael G. Ankerich, author of The Real Joyce Compton.
Seems like a bumper crop of baby stars, no? Well, Wampas took some flak for their 1926 selection because many of the stars they chose this time around were already well established movie actresses.
Wampas went this route because they hadn't had the number of breakthroughs that had been hoped for out of their first four crops of baby stars. The 1925 grouping was especially thought of as a flop. So in 1926 more than one journalist would complain that these were not baby stars, but "real stars."
I thought the caption and text surrounding this Dolores Del Rio clip summed up this feeling best:
Seems a bit sarcastic, doesn't it?
The clipping to the right suggests that next year perhaps Wampas will select "Mae Murray or Louise Dresser" as Baby Stars. So insulted were they by the 1926 selections that they prematurely announced, "the end of a very original and charming idea."
Wampas Baby Stars of 1927
Top to bottom, left to right: Frances Lee, Barbara Kent, Mary McAllister, Patricia Avery, Rita Carewe, Jeanne Navelle*, Sally Phipps, Iris Stuart, Helene Costello, Natalie Kingston, Adamae Vaughn, Sally Rand, Gladys McConnell
* Martha Sleeper was chosen to replace Jeanne Navelle due to Navelle's ill health (Film Daily, February 17, 1927).
Wampas Baby Stars of 1928
Top row, left to right: Alice Day, Dorothy Gulliver, Flora Bramley, Sally Eilers, Gwen Lee
Middle row, left to right: June Collyer, Sue Carol, Ruth Taylor, Ann Christy
Bottom row, left to right: Molly O'Day, Audrey Ferris, Lupe Velez, Lina Basquette
Wampas Baby Stars of 1929
Top row, left to right: Loretta Young, Josephine Dunn, Jean Arthur, Doris Hill, Anita Page
Middle row, left to right: Mona Rico, Betty Boyd, Sally Blane, Ethlyne Clair
Bottom row, left to right: Helen Twelvetrees, Caryl Lincoln, Helen Foster, Doris Dawson
Wampas Baby Stars of 1930
Prior to the Wampas announcement Dan Thomas had speculated that Carole Lombard, Marion Byron, Kathryn Crawford, Lillian Roth, Mary Doran and Dixie Lee were can't miss Baby Stars for 1930. In the end though ...
No selections for 1930.
Wampas Baby Stars of 1931
Left to right: Constance Cummings, Frances Dade, Sidney Fox, Anita Louise, Frances Dee, Judith Wood, Rochelle Hudson, Joan Marsh, Karen Morley, Marian Marsh, Marion Shilling, Barbara Weeks.
Baby Star Joan Blondell does not appear in this photo, though she is in the video below.
This YouTube video introduces the Baby Stars of 1931:
The stars are introduced by "the most beloved mother of all time," Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink.
Wampas Baby Stars of 1932
Top row, left to right: Toshia Mori, Boots Mallory, Ruth Hall, Gloria Stuart, Patricia Ellis, Ginger Rogers, Lilian Bond, Evalyn Knapp, Marian Shockley
Bottom row, left to right: Dorothy Wilson, Mary Carlisle, Lona Andre, Eleanor Holm, Dorothy Layton
June Clyde is not pictured above.
This video features Willy Pogany composing a portrait of the "Stars of Tomorrow" as Johnny Mack Brown introduces them:
Wampas Baby Stars of 1934
Top row, left to right: Judith Arlen, Jean Gale, Ann Hovey, Katherine Williams, Hazel Hayes, Gigi Parrish
Bottom row seated, left to right: Helen Cohan, Jacqueline Wells, Betty Bryson, Jean Carmen, Lu Ann Meredith, Dorothy Drake, Lucille Lund
This 1934 Mascot feature length movie Young and Beautiful starring William Haines is built around these Wampas Baby Stars of 1934. Judith Arlen is lead actress and Katherine Williams features big as well.
This last group of Baby Stars also appeared in Kiss and Make-Up (1934) starring Cary Grant. The Baby Stars are little more than glorified extras in the humorous sex comedy from Paramount.
It is available on DVD as part of the Cary Grant: Screen Legend Collection, which includes four additional early Grant titles.
In 1934 Wampas also awarded a Silver Trophy to past winner, Joan Blondell. The clipping to the right below shows Joan with her trophy.
Blondell was awarded the trophy for greatest accomplishments over the past year by past Wampas Baby Stars. It was said that Ginger Rogers finished second with third a toss-up between Constance Cummings, Gloria Stuart and Frances Dee.
For 1934 Wampas decided that none of its Baby Stars were to be under contract to any studio in order to really give an opportunity to the latest batch of 13 (basically the opposite extreme to 1926. This ticked off Paramount who struck back by naming their own six "protegees" for 1934: Evelyn Venable, Frances Drake, Dorothy Dell, Helen Mack, Elizabeth Young and Ida Lupino.
Oddly, one of those two films featuring the 1934 Wampas Baby Stars, Kiss and Make-Up, was a Paramount production. Ironically it featured Helen Mack billed above the Baby Stars. Dan Thomas had written about Paramount's crop of stars in April 1934 and Kiss and Make-Up was a July release, so either a deal was struck or the falling out was all another bit of Wampas publicity.
Mascot's Young and Beautiful, the title featuring the Baby Stars more prominently, released in September 1934.
These were the last batch of Baby Stars though there were similar promotional methods used by individual studios, à la Paramount, throughout the 1930s. Wampas was back in the news in 1955 when a group led by former Baby Star Ginger Rogers selected 15 young women as Wampas Baby Stars of 1956.
- "Ginger Rogers Sponsors New Wampas Baby Stars Revival" Midland Reporter Telegram 30 Aug 1955: 2. Newspaper Archive. Web. 4 Feb 2013.
- "Movie Press Agents Won't Pick Wampas Baby Stars." Charleston Gazette 18 Oct 1935: 13. Newspaper Archive. Web. 4 Feb 2013.
- Thomas, Dan. "The Tough Job of Being a Prophet in Hollywood." Sunday Morning Star 10 Jun 1934: 14. Google News. Web. 4 Feb 2013.
- Thomas, Dan. "Their Face--And Also Their Voice--Is Their Fortune." Bismarck Tribune 3 Jan 1930: 3. Newspaper Archive. Web. 4 Feb 2013.
- Thomas, Dan. "Wampas Face Competition in Choosing Year's Baby Stars." Ogden Standard Examiner 19 Mar 1934: 7. Newspaper Archive. Web. 4 Feb 2013.