Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Miss Juanita Hansen

Blah. One of those days/weeks so far. I was up until 2:00 am last night trying to figure out my math homework. Thank goodness for smart friends with Skype! I have the day off tomorrow, so that is a plus...get a little sleep in time.

I figured hey, since I am in a melancholy mood, why not talk about some beautiful blondes. That always livens up things. And the fact that they were both Sennett Bathing Beauties makes it even better!

 First off is Juanita Hansen.

Juanita Hansen was born on March 3, 1895 in Des Moines, Iowa.

When she was still a child, she and her family moved to Los Angeles where she attended school. It was after high school that she landed her first acting job in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, based on the book by L. Frank Baum. She appeared in two of Oz's adaptations.

After this, she appeared in a few films here and there, nothing big. She then joined up with Mack Sennett and became one of his famous Bathing Beauties. Apparently she told people that she liked working for Sennett, but didn't really like doing slapstick comedies. So, she left the studios and went to Universal in order to make more serious pictures.

Her films and serials were pretty successful, but the problems weren't with the material, it was with Juanita herself. She had become addicted to cocaine, and it was starting to interfere with her work.

In 1921, Juanita was injured in an accident when she was scalded with hot water. She won a legal battle over the case and took a break from films. (Unfortunately though, she was given morphine for her pain...which she then became addicted to).

She tried to come back two years later but only found bit movie roles. Lack of work and her drug addiction caused her to retire from films in 1923. She was only 28 years old.

Her life was spiraling downward and quickly, so, she decided there was only one thing to do...kill herself. She took an overdose of sleeping pills, but unfortunately/luckily, she did not succeed. Being given a second chance helped point Juanita in a more positive direction, and she decided to use her negative life experiences to help make a positive life experience for others who were struggling with addiction. She started the Juanita Hansen Foundation, and also wrote a book arguing that drug addicts should be treated as sick patients rather than as criminals.

Juanita Hansen passed away on September 26, 1961 from heart failure in her Hollywood home. Her maid found her and stated to officials that the actress had been suffering from a heart ailment.

She was interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Juanita never married, but I am sure she had a few boyfriends. One of said boyfriends was married to former showgirl and scandal figure, Evelyn Nesbit. Evelyn was married to dancer Jack Clifford, and when she divorced him in 1933, she cited Juanita as a factor in the break-up.

She was arrested on drug charges in 1937, but got out of the ordeal when she told the officers that the pills found in her purse were prescribed for medical reasons, not recreational use. She had just gotten herself clean, and was not relapsing. In fact, after she was released from jail, she went on a speaking tour talking to people about the dangers of drugs.

Reportedly Mack Sennett favored Juanita above his other Bathing Beauties, and so he put her front and center for many of his films. Did the other girls get jealous and angry? You're darn right they did! Silent film cat fight? Awesome.

Juanita seemed to love living dangerously. Along with having a penchant for drugs, she loved fast cars and was often arrested for speeding.

According to a Photoplay article from 1920, she was 5'3'', blue eyed, and very blonde.

In 1923, Juanita spoke to a newspaper about her drug addiction which was a pretty big deal at the time. If actors had any kind of scandalous behavior going on, it was hushed up. I am linking the article here because it is LONG, but it is definitely worth reading. Juanita Hansen Article

                      "The Queen of the Thrills"


  1. Hi Jessica,
    This article has more info about Juanita Hansen's accident.,5734387&dq=juanita+hansen&hl=en

    Theresa G

  2. Hi Jessica ,
    It's me again. Here is an article of Juanita 's life after her movie career.


  3. Howdy Jessica,

    I became interested in Miss Hansen because she was an Iowan like myself and of Swedish ancestry too. I really enjoyed your post on Juanita. I just want to add that during the 30's she wrote a book/article called the Silent Conspiracy which dealt with the harsh treatment the Police of that time (1930's) treated recovering Drug Addicts.

    Many Fete's