1930s B-Movie Actress Janet Chandler Lived on a Palisades Ranch
By MICHAEL OLDHAM | Contributing Writer
The Bienveneda Bluffs, home to views of the Pacific Ocean, were also home to Hollywood B-movie actress Janet Chandler, who moved into a newly built house in 1935 on a ranch estate in the neighborhood.
For Chandler, who was in her mid-20s in 1935, the year was a turning point for her in number of ways. Besides becoming a newly minted Palisadian, Chandler’s last movies would be released.
And, the Pine Bluff, Arkansas, native would marry for the first time in October of 1935.
Today, we find actress Janet Chandler has been tossed into the bin of Hollywood obscurity. Chandler, who had a head of wavy, parted hair, has no Wikipedia page to be found. And, when she passed away in 1994, her Variety and Los Angeles Times obituaries were brief enough to be scanned in a few seconds.
This lack of screen history attention for the sultry, blonde-haired Chandler may be justified, given her slim filmography. Chandler played parts in only 12 films—three of which were uncredited roles.
Born of German ancestry, the five-foot, five-inch Chandler also had a short span of time on the silver screen, further contributing to her screen career being lost on the public.
Born Lillian Elizabeth Guenther on December 31, 1911, Chandler’s first credited role was in 1932. It was in Fox Film Corporation’s “The Golden West,” a Zane Grey Western story. Just a few years later, Chandler’s screen career would end.
Still, in her brief movie-making career, Chandler managed to slip into films that featured major stars of her time.
In 1921, as a young girl of 10 years or so, hazel-eyed Chandler managed to land a bit part in the silent movie “The Three Musketeers,” starring then-famous actor Douglas Fairbanks. The year 1924 saw Chandler play the young version of actress Anna Q. Nilsson for the film “Inez from Hollywood.”
Chandler played an uncredited role of a beauty contest contestant in the 1932 Joan Bennett vehicle called “She Wanted a Millionaire.”
But, with the release of Janet Chandler’s 1935 films, one being the adventure Western “Rough Riding Ranger,” the beautiful face of = Chandler would never again go before the cameras—Chandler had walked away from Hollywood.
Chandler’s sudden departure from the film world was said to be due to an injury the actress suffered while making “The Drunkard,” a 1935 drama.
Apart from her work in Hollywood, very little is known about Chandler’s personal life, with some facts found in obituaries and internet movie sites.
Chandler came to California with her family as a child. She attended the Orton School for Girls in Pasadena. She found work as a dancer in theater. Her dancing skills would allow her to win a collection of dance prizes. Chandler quit dancing for awards after her total number of prizes reached 50—the goal she had set for herself.
The future talking pictures leading actress also made money as a model, gaining some prestigious assignments.
Chandler became a junior hostess representing her home state of Arkansas at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Three years later, Chandler married financier George E. Barrett.
Some months before their marriage, Barrett had already commissioned noted Southern CA architects John Byers and Edla Muir to build a Norman Provincial ranch house on a slice of the 110 acres of land he owned in Pacific Palisades.
According to Pacific Coast Architecture Database, “This address was situated at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Bienveneda Avenue.”
PCAD pointed to a Los Angeles Times publication that told of Barrett’s building permits applications. These applications told of a “Two-story, $17,500, 14-room residence … for George E. Barrett.”
R.W. Sexton, an architectural writer, made observations of the Barrett house. Sexton wrote that “an entrance tower forms the feature or focal point of the design … while a windmill has been treated as an integral part of the composition.”
Sexton further noted some features about the Barrett: “The owner’s bedroom and two guest rooms are placed on the first floor to the left of the living room, while the service quarters are located in a wing at the right. Aside from a circular bar room on the second floor of the tower and a servants; sitting room the rooms are confined to the first floor.”
Chandler’s marriage with Barrett produced three daughters, but this coupling’s matrimonial union did not have a Hollywood ending.
Chandler’s marriage to the financier and land trader lasted only 12 years, the same number of films she played in. They divorced in 1947.
Chandler died in Los Angeles at the age of 78.
According to SurveyLA, who published a 2013 Brentwood-Pacific Palisades Historic Resources Survey Report, research indicates that the main residence of the George E. Barrett Estate remains intact.
Michael Oldham, is the author of the novel The Valentino Formula and can be reached at HollywoodLandings@sbcglobal.net.