By Anton J. Sartori

2057 Fremont Ave.
So. Pasadena, California





LeMars Globe-Post, Thursday, April 2, 1953
LeMars, Iowa


Here is a picture of two well-known movie stars, Adeline de Walt Reynolds and Alexis Smith.

And if the headline misled you, let it be stated at once that while Tony Sartori, The Globe-Post west coast correspondent, thinks Alexis Smith is a swell girl, as anyone can plainly see, his special crush is on the other lady, Adeline de Walt Reynolds.

Mrs. Reynolds has often been seen on LeMars movie screens.  Not infrequently she plays the part of a queen or of some rich pampered old woman.  And this is about as far from her own real life as she could get, for she has experienced hardship and heartbreak enough for two average lives.

Anton Sartori counts Mrs. Reynolds among his friends and customers at the bank where he works.  In today’s column, Olla Podrida, he has condensed the story of a great career into a little more than a column of type. It’s a story that “takes you by the throat like the quinsy,” but ends on a note of happiness and quiet satisfaction.  Don’t miss it.


Those given to eyebrow-lifting may be spurred into action with the admission that I have a girl friend in Hollywood.  She’s a movie actress, and one of note.  And when I get around to mentioning her name, many of you may recall having seen her in such as “Going My Way,” “Here Comes the Groom,” “Pony Soldier,” and many other popular screen showings.

At the moment, I am further captivated by charms of my girl friend because of two photos just received.  Boldly inked across likenesses of my charmer, she has inscribed:  “To Anton with love!”  And do you know, I’m quite satisfied she meant just what she wrote.

My Hollywood love is Adeline de Walt Reynolds, phenomenal nonagenarian who crashed Hollywood gates at age 80, after having hung up endurance records not likely to be equaled in our time.  Recently proclaimed “Hollywood’s Dream Girl,” there is hardly a month when national magazines fail to feature articles bearing on the life-story and signal accomplishments of this remarkable woman.  Noted for its condensations, Reader’s Digest gave Mrs. Reynolds six pages and then barely manages a thumbnail sketch of this one-time Iowa farm girl, who late in life acquired fame and fortune when seemingly all, save this determined woman, believed it could not be done.

Born on a farm in Benton county, Iowa, about five miles from Vinton, Adeline de Walt came of a family of ten children.  Grubbing a livelihood for so large a family in the 1860s was no bed of roses. Thus it is easy to picture an otherwise stern father quite lacking in sympathy when his daughter Adeline, in her fanciful period of adolescence, entertained ideas of one day deserting her father’ Iowa broad acres.  Not even sparing the rod, Adeline’s father took a negative view of her dreams of entering college even though she might finish high school.  In his opinion, both were a waste of time since a woman had need only of preparing herself as a homemaker and for the rearing of children.

Though one stormy session followed another, Adeline continued opposed to any plan that would have her rusticating in Iowa when the world was so full of opportunities for those of vision.

The future always looks rosy to those just turned 21.  And it was at that age, Adeline de Walt broke home ties by eloping with Frank Reynolds, a kindred soul, and son of the mayor of Vinton.

Kind and lovable as he was, husband Frank had no luck in business.  His ventures were but a succession of failures; and with family funds always low.  Ten years later, and now mother of two children, Mrs. Reynolds rekindled another of her teenage dreams, that of some day becoming an actress.

Even now fighting the years at age 31, Mrs. Reynolds packed her small belongings, and taking her children, she set out for Boston where she enrolled as a dramatic student in the New England Conservatory of Music, College of Oratory.  Her husband, ever long on love and short of money, aided his family as best he could touring the county with a vaudeville act.

Completing her course, a successful stage career beckoned.  But, upon learning a theatrical career would bring a separation from her children, she declined a fine offer and headed for the West Coast to make her home in Berkeley, Calif.  It was a university town and would provide educational advantages for her children.

Another twelve years, and Mrs. Reynolds is widowed at 43.  Now the mother of four, she began hustling for a job only to be told she was too old.  In her righteous fury, she cried out that she would be no sniveling slave of time, and to prove it went about opening a business of her own, a secretarial school in nearby San Francisco.

Some of us will remember that awful April day in 1906 when news came of the terrible earthquake and fire in San Francisco.  Those with loved ones there were deeply concerned.  But, among thousands we didn’t know was the subject of this story.  Still in debt, and her business completely wrecked, Mrs. Reynolds shepherded her little flock as all sought rest bedded down on leaves in a city park.

However, Mrs. Reynold’s darkest day was still to come.  Eight years later, death claimed her beloved son, Franklin.  Crushed and bewildered, this latest visitation seemed almost more than she could bear.  Nursing her grief through sleepless nights, she prayed for divine guidance lest the thing devour her.  Over and over she pondered the words of Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be wary; they shall walk and not faint.”

A mother’s prayers are far-reaching—their appeal goes on and on. And here we have Mrs. Reynolds drawing comfort and strength from thoughts of her own mother, how she had told of the nearness of God if we would but trust in Him.  And this, thinks Mrs. Reynolds, was the real turning point in her life. I grew younger in heart, she says, and I looked younger, too.

In 1926, Mrs. Reynolds was 64. She had waited half a century to make good on her childhood longing for a college education.  And she felt that the time was at hand.   With her children grown and safely on their own, Mrs. Reynolds matriculated in the University of California.  Spurning proffered aid, she worked on the side, and at the age of 70 was graduated with honors.

Though more years were to pass, fulfillment of another dream, that of becoming an actress, was also at hand.  While working in small community theaters in the Bay area, Mrs. Reynolds prepared for whatever demands might be made upon her.  Even at age 80, she could swim and dive; had taken lessons in tap dancing and fencing, and her horsemanship was really something.  If need be, she could ride or drive.

Having made herself available, the big chance finally came. After paying a fee to make an appearance with the Assistance League Players in Hollywood, Mrs. Reynolds was approached by an MGM talent scout with an offer of a part in “Come Live With Me,” and starring James Stewart and Hedy Lamarr.  The first olive was out of the bottle. The others would come easier—and they did. She has now appeared in near half a hundred screen plays, and her television appearances add up to more than a score.

Visiting with this grand lady, Mrs. Reynolds spoke of the great joy and deep satisfaction that was now hers because of having acquired a home of her own.  All these years, the roof over her head had always belonged to somebody else.  Now, it was all her very own. There would be plenty room for an orderly arrangement of her 3,000 volume library and all those other things that go to make up a home.

I know nothing of financial arrangements involved, but it would be my wish that Mrs. Reynold’s new home has one of those 20-year mortgages on it, and that I might accompany my good friend when she makes the final payment.