Never did I think I would see TV’s best known secretary(Della Street), BARBARA HALE with blonde hair,playing a night club chanteuse involved with gangsters AND singing GILDA’s “Put The Blame on Mame” !!

THE HOUSTON STORY(1956) stars GENE BARRY as an oil rigger with big ideas to siphon off and steal oil – he hooks up with gangster EDWARD ARNOLD. I lost interest in the plot but got such a surprise to see Barbara in a femme fatale role!
I admire the casting choice bravery but, as much as I like Barbara,I don’t think she pulled it off. She is too associated with her wholesome,warm,loving and loyal screen persona.

But what I did enjoy was her singing of “Put the Blame on Mame”. She mimed it well (I’m trying to find out who the dubber was). The studio (Columbia) gave it a different arrangement but it it still surprising that Columbia would even consider using it, RITA HAYWORTH’s classic version being so iconic.

From BARBARAHALE.COM it was nice to read that RAYMOND BURR cultivated an orchid (Barbara Hale orchid) and named it after Barbara as a symbol of their friendship.

Barbara Hale Gene Barry

Barbara Hale Gene Barry

18 responses »

  1. THE HOUSTON STORY is my kinda movie!
    I feel that it was just about the best of
    several films William Castle made for
    Sam Katzman.A model B movie IMHO.
    I thought Barbara Hale did a good job as
    the “bad” girl and it was fun to see this
    change of direction for her.
    Always wanted to see her in LORNA DOONE,
    done B Movie stlye,directed by Phil Karlson.
    Only thing that would put me off seeing this
    is boring Richard Greene as her leading man!

    • LORNA DOONE is on my wish list too! 🙂 And I’d love to see THE HOUSTON STORY. It played at the Noir City Fest a year or two ago but I wasn’t able to be there. Had no idea she played this type of role in the movie! Now I’m even more intrigued. 🙂

      Best wishes,

  2. It certainly is amazing that Barbara was cast in this film. Her rendition of ‘Put the Blame on Mame’ is on Youttube

  3. Not sure if I’ve ever seen any Perry Mason, to my shame – if so it must have been many years ago. I must put that right! I did like Barbara Hale opposite Cagney in ‘A Lion is in the Streets’ (she doesn’t sing in that one, though he does), and am interested to hear of this very different role!

  4. Thanks, Judy for mentioning LION IN THE STREETS. I’ve never seen it but will certainly look out for it. I had no idea Barbara costarred with the great Cagney.

    • Vienna, it has been shown on TCM in the UK quite a few times (one of the very few Cagney movies they do show) so fingers crossed it turns up again for you! I just checked and it isn’t on in the next couple of weeks, though.

  5. Oh, I love Barbara Hale in The Houston Story. It was pre-Mason, so her wholesome screen personality was established but not as iconic as it is to us now. She had never played a character quite like Zoe before but different ones nonetheless. Put the Mame on Mame suited her perfectly in that role I think. And I’m not even convinced she didn’t sing the song herself. If indeed she didn’t, the studio picked a voice that sounded a lot like hers. Chapeau either way. 🙂

  6. Nice to hear from you. Actually, maybe Barbara wasn’t dubbed , I really don’t know.
    I guess it was just such a shock to see Barbara in this unusual role!
    Am enjoying checking through your blog at

    • I’ll review 7th Cavalry soon on Talking Classics. Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m really glad you’re enjoying my little blog. 🙂
      Of the films you’ve mentioned, The Oklahoman and Jolson Sings Again are two of my favorites. And so areThe Jackpot and The First Time. Have you seen those?! It’s great seeing Barbara Hale doing comedy. She’s great in dramatic roles, The Window or Lion, but seeing her getting funny in those homey parts is a whole new level of fun. 🙂

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