I admit it – I’m a little gaga over early sound star John Love Boles (yes, that is his real middle name – so fitting, don’t you think?). In an era filled with stalwart and woodenly handsome leading men, John Boles fit the bill but proved to be oh so much more.
Spoiler: if you like your boys bad, stop reading.
He was a spy!!!
Yes, it’s true. John Love Boles (I love writing that) was born in
His parents wanted their boy to be a doctor, and being, a good son, he studied
and got a degree (B.A.). He also married his college sweetheart and stayed
married for life (!!). But, evidently there was something brewing beneath the
While attending the
University of Texas, Boles joined the army during World War I and
served as a spy in Germany, Bulgaria and . I am coming up dry on this
claim and would love to know more about these exploits. Was he an early James
Proving that you can’t keep ‘em down on the farm after they've seen Paree (or
Turkey), JLB moved to to study voice and his matinee idol
looks and creamy baritone lead him to starring roles on Broadway. After a false
start in New York ,
sharp-eyed Gloria Swanson spotted him back on Broadway and just knew she needed
him for her leading man in her next film, "The Love of Sunya" (1927). Boles
scored a huge success, even though his golden voice was not heard in the silent
So, how lucky for Mr. John Love Boles that the sound revolution and the explosive popularity of musical films and his rising stardom all dovetailed at the same moment? Warner Brothers knew they had a winner when they cast him as the dashing Red Shadow in the 1929 Technicolor production of “The Desert Song.”. Sadly, this film only survives as a black and white print and some pre-code high jinks have been lost.
Things only got better for our man with RKO’s super-hit, "Rio Rita." Here, he and Bebe Daniels wowed audiences with their beauty and vocal talents.
Sure, these old musicals creak, but their charm, high spirits and genuine joy survive intact. Here are JLB and Evelyn Laye getting all sexy in 1931's "One Heavenly Night."
Sadly for Boles, the musical craze died as quickly as it raged, but fear not. Our multi-talented man could act! Remember him in “Frankenstein”?
Some of Boles' other well known films are "The Age of Innocence," "The Song of the West," "Stand Up and Cheer," "The White Parade," and "Craig's Wife." He also re-teamed with Swanson in her musical debut, "Music in the Air."
He worked steadily, if quietly, through the 1930s and, in 1943, he returned to Broadway to appear in the hit play, “One Touch of Venus” with Mary Martin. He then happily toured the supper clubs and finally decided to head back home to
, where he became a
successful oilman. Texas
Was there nothing this man couldn't do?
All the while, his wife of over 50 years was by his side. By all accounts, his was a happy and fulfilled life. Hmmm… handsome, talented, and nice...that pretty much sums up John Love Boles.