Saturday, January 4, 2014

Miss Jobyna Ralston

Man oh man...another lady that I thought I had already covered but seems I have forgotten. And how could any of us forget the bright eyed Jobyna?

Jobyna Ralston was born Jobyna Lancaster Raulston on November 21, 1899 in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. She was the eldest child and only daughter born to Joe and Sarah Raulston. Her brother, Edward Angus joined the family a few years later. 

Sarah Raulston worked as a photographer and was a lover of the arts. She actually named her daughter after stage actress Jobyna Howland, and she wanted her daughter to grow up and become an actress as well. Little Jobyna made her stage debut at age nine, playing Cinderella.

When she was old enough, Jobyna went to New York and attended acting school. She also began appearing in various Broadway productions. It was while acting on stage that she was discovered by the famous French silent comedian, Max Linder. He convinced Jobyna to go to Hollywood and he would put her in some of his films. 

She made her film debut in the 1919 short, Starting Out in Life, but she was mistakenly credited as 'Juliana Ralston.' The first film she appeared in under her real name (although now spelled 'Ralston') was The Sultan of Djazz. During this time, she was still acting on the stage as well.

In 1921, Jobyna reportedly appeared in the film Humor Risk, a film that was produced by the Marx Brothers but was never released and is now considered lost. One story suggests that the film was accidentally thrown out while another suggested that Groucho Marx burned the negatives because he was unhappy with how the film turned out. Since the film is lost, we can't for sure say that it was Jobyna in the film but she is the one most credited with appearing in it. Other actresses who have been rumored to be in the film are Esther Ralson, Helen Kane, and Mildred Davis. There is one picture floating around that reportedly shows the cast of the film and the girl in the picture appears to be Jobyna. Curiouser and curiouser...

The following year, she quit acting on the stage and made film acting her career. The higher income she was making was helping her pay her ailing mother's medical bills.

Jobyna was named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1923. Her fellow starlets that year included Evelyn Brent, Laura La Plante, and Eleanor Boardman.

Jobyna and Harold Lloyd
Her star kept rising and rising and she was next picked as Harold Lloyd's leading lady in the film Why Worry? Jobyna would appear in five more of Harold's films: Hot Water (1924), Girl Shy (1924), The Freshman (1925), For Heaven's Sake (1926), and The Kid Brother (1927).

Although her partnership with Harold Lloyd is most likely what she is known for nowadays, another claim to fame would be her appearance in the 1927 film Wings with Clara Bow. Also appearing in the film was Richard Arlen, the man who would become her second husband. 

Even though her career was on the up and up, Jobyna decided to retire from acting in 1931. It seems that she would rather focus on her home and family rather than making it big as a movie star. There was also the issue of a noticeable lisp she had that made her unsuitable for talkies. Her last on screen appearance was in the film, Sheer Luck.

Jobyna Ralston passed away on January 22, 1967 in Woodland Hills, California from pneumonia. 

She was buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

Jobyna was married twice. Her first husband was a farmer named John Campbell, a childhood sweetheart of hers. She was only 16 years old when she married John and both families were against the marriage because they felt both of them were too young. She finally realized that they were right when she began getting restless being a farmer's wife in Tennessee, so, one day she told him, "Another month of this, Johnny, and I go to work. If I do, remember, it's all over with us." (Photoplay, 1928)

Jobyna and Richard Arlen

Her second marriage was to her costar in Wings, Richard Arlen. They met on the set in 1927 and married later that year. In 1933, they had a son named Richard Jr. The union seemed to be a happy one and the two became darlings of the movie magazines which told tales of tennis games played with another Hollywood couple, Bing and Dixie Lee Crosby. Unfortunately, the marriage began to fall apart and Jobyna filed for divorce in 1945 citing Arlen with desertion and cruelty. Interestingly enough, her headstone reads 'Jobyna Ralston Arlen.'

In 1926, she had to take time off to recover from an attack of "Klieg eyes." The film she was working on consisted of a lot of night and day shots, and the Klieg lights helped make the days brighter inside the studio. As a result, actors were frequently blinded on set by the lights and had to spend some time off with dark glasses on to rest their eyes. 

In 1930, Jobyna was appearing in a play called "Bad Babies" in Los Angeles. The play, which dealt with the love lives and criminal activities of high school students, had been cited as being indecent and after a few weeks, the cast (including Jobyna), producer, playwright, and stage manager were all arrested. They were all eventually released on a $500 bond and later had to pay a fine.

One of Jobyna's hobbies was painting and she used to paint her friend's portraits. She also enjoyed horseback riding and golfing. 

"We both can't have big careers and Dick is the best man artistically, that's all. It's a survival of the fittest. I can't make more money than he does. I can't be a bigger star. We'd be unhappy that way. But I'm happy now. I have so much. I have such an important job, the job of keeping Dick sane and level-headed." ~~ Jobyna Ralston, Photoplay 1929


  1. Besides this being, as usual, an awesome entry for my personal favorite of Harold Lloyd's co-stars, I thought the mention of "Klieg eyes" interesting. I've read of the intensity of earlier lighting, and also it's apparent vocal counterpart "Klieg voice." Have you ever encountered that?

    Specifically, it (supposedly) affected Lowell Sherman (Way Down East--sorry, you probably knew that) after 1930 and caused him to move towards directing by 1932. Indeed, I have noted that his voice became more gravelly sounding throughout 1931 and 1932, but he also smoked (and probably drank, too). Further, apparently it was exacerbated by the fact that he wore shorts on the movie sets as often as he could. What?? I mean, good for him for being way ahead of the fashion curve, but I don't know how that affects one's voice. Just a few tidbits--

    1. I have not heard of the Kleig voice, just the eyes. On multiple occasions actually. I can only imagine how awful it was to work under those.

  2. Hello, what is the source for here alleged affair with Lloyd?-thanks

    1. I was just trying to go back and find the source for the information I posted about Jobyna and Harold having an affair, and now I can't seem to locate it. I remember reading it through a number of sources, but perhaps they weren't the most credible. I have deleted the information now since I can't find the supporting source to back it up. Thanks!