Truly one of the oddest stardom stories must belong to Sonja Henie. A world famous Olympian skater, Henie made a huge mark on Hollywood in the 1930s. Providing an exuberant presence with modest acting skills, she appeared in vehicles that revolved around her ability to perform in huge Busby Berkeley style numbers on acres of ice. Many of these spectacles made tons of money, meaning Henie became one of the most popular stars of her time…albeit in some of the strangest cinema ever produced.
Nicely, in 1938’s Happy Landing, Henie shares a brief scene with a future horror icon. Appearing here as Trudy Ericksen, a small town Norwegian hopeful who has started to make good in the Big Apple, Henie impulsively declares that she is going to marry a playboy, enacted smoothly by Cesar Romero (Two on a Guillotine, Batman), to an overeager reporter – – played with gusto by none other than Lon Chaney, Jr. ! Nicely, Chaney’s goofy everyman energy is in full if modest supply here. For terror fans, it is a truly pleasant surprise, and one of the many things that makes the viewing of these old black and white programmers such a pleasure.
Naturally, Henie, who spends much of the movie in close-ups featuring an approximation of thoughtful whimsy, finds her true love by the film’s spectacular finish. Chaney, of course, would go on to classic monster status with his appearances in such films as 1941’s The Wolf Man, 1943’s Son of Dracula and 1944’s The Mummy’s Ghost.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!