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Overnight Sensation

In Issue:

The mere appearance on a Saturday Evening Post cover could be a springboard to fame. Such was the case for Terry Walker, who, after years of struggle in Hollywood, became a movie star after modeling for the Post cover shown here.

Until then, Walker’s only claim to fame was being cousin to Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins of the Our Gang series. Walker, born Alice Norberg, grew up in the small fishing village of Petersburg, Alaska, then ran off to Hollywood at 14, first changing her name to Alice Doll.

She sang and danced in vaudeville shows, modeled shoes, and even worked with chimpanzees. She soon found a niche, of sorts; she was a good singer who could hit the high notes, so, as the talkies emerged, she became a stand-in “screamer” in horror films for better-known actresses who needed to spare their voices. Her specialty was not to last: Producers soon realized that they could save recorded screams and dub them in later.

It was around this time that she changed her name once again to Terry Walker and was chosen by Norman Rockwell for this March 9, 1935, Post cover featuring a milkman pointing out the time to a couple that has clearly had a long night out.

When the issue hit the newsstands, the unknown actress miraculously transformed from a nobody to an “it” girl in Hollywood. Trouble was, she didn’t know it. Paramount executives frantically contacted Rockwell, but, unfortunately, the address he had for her was no longer current (and Google didn’t yet exist!). Studio officials traveled to Alaska, back to Hollywood, then to New York City, and finally to Miami Beach, where they eventually found her singing with the Jan Rubini Orchestra at the Royal Palm Hotel.

It had taken 11 months to find her! But such are the nature of “overnight sensations” in Hollywood, even today. In fact, if you add it all up, it was a full 19 years from the day she left Alaska that Walker emerged as a Paramount star. She would go on to make 16 movies, including several starring roles. Her last picture was the 1944 Voodoo Man with Bela Lugosi.

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  • Charles Neumann

    Interesting, though I would hardly call her a star. Still, the painting did a lot for her. Speaking of stars, I think the milkman looks alot like a real star, Will Rogers.