Jun 30, 2017

A brief obit....

Eloise Hardt, a long-time, largely television actress, died on June 25th.  She may have been 99, although there is some question as to her date of birth.  She is known for her work on The Dennis O'Keefe Show (1959); Incubus (1966); and Save the Tiger (1973).  She also won praise for her performance as the debauched but ever sympathetic character in The Days of Our Lives ini 1970.  Ms. Hardt got her start in Hollywood through her mentor, patron, and for a time, her lover, director John Huston.

Ms. Hardt, often known in Hollywood by her nickname, Cherokee, was the daughter of a Cherokee Indian and a German electrical engineer. The family, which included her six brothers and one younger sister, lived in Lawton, Oklahoma. During the Great Depression, after an attempted suicide, the father left the family and moved to Texas.  In the spirit of Steinbeck’s Joads, Cherokee, her mother, sister and younger brothers made their way to California in the back of a flatbed truck hired for the trip. The story, however improbable it sounds, was that this little party of Okies, out of money and resources, stopped at a filling station just across the Arizona-California border only to find that the station attendant was the eldest brother, "Indian Joe.”

Cherokee started off in Hollywood as a model, under the tutelage of photographer Tom Kelly, and then got a one-year contact with Howard Hawkes.  During World War II she worked at the Hollywood Canteen, where she met a young flyer, the “true love of my life”, who was later killed in the Pacific theater.  She was married three times: including a marriage to the prominent Austrian writer and journalist, Hans Habe, with whom she had a daughter Marina, born in 1951. 

In the early hours of December 29th 1968, Ms. Habe was kidnapped as she entered her driveway on Cynthia Street in West Hollywood — she was home for Christmas vacation from the University of Hawaii and staying with her mother.   Two days later her body was found at the bottom of a ravine off Mulholland Drive. The murder has never been solved, but has attracted much speculation over the years.  According to police, the most likely suspect, a biker who may have seen Marina by bizarre coincidence earlier in the evening, died some years ago.

Ms. Hardt married publicist and producer Paul MacNamara in 1971; the marriage lasted until he died in 1991.  She died after a long illness at an assisted living facility in Palos Verdes.

She will be remembered as a no-holds-barred woman, a sometime comedienne, alternately sweet and difficult, always willing to risk, and at the most critical moments in a life fearless and compassionate.  Her one regret was that she wasn’t more focused on her career. In the end, she was less an actress than a Hollywood character whose life should have been made into a film in which she could star.

In the years afterward, she went through a religious conversion, away from Catholicism to ‘Born Again’.  “I’ve committed every crime in the book,” she once said.  “But Jesus has forgiven me and now all I want is to be with my daughter.”

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