We're looking for contributors

Sybil Jason Dead at 83: Warner Bros.' Answer to Shirley Temple in the '30s

Sybil JasonSybil Jason, Warner Bros.' answer to Shirley Temple, died Tuesday, August 23, according to film researcher and author Scott O'Brien. She was 83.

Born Sybil Jacobson on November 23, 1927, in Cape Town, South Africa, while still a small child she moved to Britain with her parents. Thanks to her uncle Harry Jacobson, reportedly a London orchestra leader and pianist to highly popular entertainer Gracie Fields, by the age of five Sybil was appearing in London nightclubs, where she sang, danced, and mimicked Maurice Chevalier.

In 1935, Sybil caught the eye of Irving Asher, the head of Warner Bros. London studio, who had spotted her in a supporting role in the British feature Barnacle Bill. Following a successful film test, she was brought to Hollywood, where the now renamed Sybil Jason was to become Warners' answer to 20th Century Fox's box office goldmine Shirley Temple.

Jason, however, failed to catch on despite working with some of Warners' top players and filmmakers. Among those were co-star Glenda Farrell in Michael Curtiz's Little Big Shot (1935), a crime comedy-drama co-written by future producer Jerry Wald (Mildred Pierce, Johnny Belinda) and future Casablanca co-screenwriter Julius J. Epstein; Mervyn LeRoy's romantic drama I Found Stella Parrish (1935), starring Kay Francis (who was "a very motherly and protective woman toward me"); and William Keighley's The Singing Kid (1936), with Al Jolson playing a version of himself in his last film at Warner Bros.

Following roles in a handful of two-reelers, and in William Dieterle's Pat O'Brien vehicle The Great O'Malley (1937), with Jason as Humphrey Bogart's crippled daughter, and Busby Berkeley's Kay Francis melodrama Comet Over Broadway (1938), Warners opted not to renew their young star's contract.

After appearing in a minor effort at Republic Pictures, Sidney Salkow's Woman Doctor (1939), Jason – her name now way down the cast list – made only two more movies, both directed by Walter Lang and starring her former rival Shirley Temple: The Little Princess (1939), in which she played a cockney girl, and The Blue Bird (1940). In the latter film, most of Jason's scenes were reportedly cut from the final release print.

In 1947, she married Anthony Drake, with whom she had a daughter. Sybil Jason's autobiography, My Fifteen Minutes: An Autobiography of a Child Star of the Golden Era of Hollywood, was published by Bear Manor in 2005. Two other autobiographical tomes followed: Five Minutes More in 2007 and What's It All About, Sybil? in 2010.

Sybil Jason's quote via Laura Wagner's Classic Images review of Five Minutes More.

If you found Sybil Jason Dead at 83: Warner Bros.' Answer to Shirley Temple in the '30s an informative post, please recommend it to your friends. See share buttons above and on the left.
And consider following Alt Film Guide on Facebook and/or joining the FB group All About Movies.
Sybil Jason Dead at 83: Warner Bros.' Answer to Shirley Temple in the '30s © 2004-2015 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s). Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Continue Reading: Linda Darnell on TCM: A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, NO WAY OUT

Previous Post: Burt Lancaster Movie Schedule: SCORPIO, THE KILLERS, BRUTE FORCE


Click on 'Load Comments' to leave a comment about Sybil Jason Dead at 83: Warner Bros.' Answer to Shirley Temple in the '30s.

Important: Different views and opinions are perfectly fine, but courtesy and respect are imperative. Abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), and/or trollish/inflammatory comments will be blocked and offenders may be banned.




FILM ARCHIVES

Christopher Fry: THE LADY'S NOT FOR BURNING Playwright Has Died
BEN-HUR 1959 and 1925 Versions on DVD: Charlton Heston, Ramon Novarro
Palme d'Or Winners: Cannes Film Festival
Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni: Film Giants Died on the Same Day
Marsha Hunt Actress Turns 95
The Six Years That Shook the World (of Film)
THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC Carl Theodor Dreyer
Best Films - 1955
Jerry Lewis Oscar Statuette: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
LA HABANERA - Zarah Leander - Douglas Sirk
Marsha Hunt: Great American Part II
Ronald Colman on TCM: A TALE OF TWO CITIES, KIKI, RANDOM HARVEST
Claudette Colbert, Alla Nazimova, Marion Davies, Charles Boyer: Cinecon 2011
Oscar Winner THE GREAT ZIEGFELD: American Cinematheque Screening
William Holden Movies: Two WILD Westerns
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES Director, Oscar Nominee Edouard Molinaro Dead at 85
Top Box Office Movies of 2013
Maria von Trapp (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) dead at 99: Was Last Surviving Singing von Trapp Family Member
Pioneering Woman Director Lois Weber Movie Screening
Teresa Wright in 'Shadow of a Doubt': Hitchcock Heroine in His Favorite Movie