Mary Dees ~ Jean Harlow's Stand-In

Mary Dees Footlight Parade

Mary Dees was an actress who is best known for being Jean Harlow's stand-in

 She was born Mary Ella Dees on June 3, 1911 in Syracuse, New York. Soon after her family moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tragically her father, Arthur Dees, died when she was thirteen. Mary attended business school and briefly worked as a stenographer. Then she decided to move to New York City to pursue an acting career. In 1931 she made her film debut in the musical Flying High. The pretty blonde landed bit parts in the Dames, Footlight Parade, and Gold Diggers of 1935. She was promoted as the girl with "the best legs in Hollywood". Mary dated boxer Jack Dempsey and gangster Johnny Roselli. While working on the film Bad Guy she began a serious romance with Bruce Cabot. She later said "I didn't pick boyfriends very well."  Director Jack Conway noticed her resemblance to Jean Harlow and her hired to be Jean's body double at MGM.

Mary DeesMary Dees

Tragically in 1937 Jean died while making the drama Saratoga. Mary was asked to film her remaining scenes so the movie could be released. This got her a lot of press attention and MGM signed her to a seven year contract. Unfortunately they let her go after the first year. In 1939 she went to Australia to star in a stage production of The Women. She started dating Lyle Talbot and there were rumors they were secretly married. On December 27, 1941 she married Cornelius Foster, a mechanic from Alabama. Her final film was the 1946 comedy A Night In Casablanca. Mary continued to act occasionally on the stage. After divorcing Cornelius she moved to Florida and worked in a thrift store. On August 4, 2005 she died at the age of ninety-four. She was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Mary Dees