new material added to Christine's bio:
* marks the areas that contain new items
(At right, detail from lobby card for the 1942 Range Busters' western ROCK RIVER RENEGADES courtesy of Pat LaRosa)
CHRISTINE McINTYRE'S LIFE
by William R. Telfer
(Note: Please do not reprint or otherwise use the exact wording of the following article, or any part or parts of it [or other original text on this site], without first obtaining permission by writing email@example.com -- thank you.)
She was born Christine Cecilia McIntyre April 16th, 1911, in Nogales, Arizona, (some ten months before Arizona's statehood commenced) to John and Edna (Barnaby) McIntyre, both accomplished musicians. John Edward McIntyre was born in Canada, and Edna Annette Barnaby (who, in fact, taught music) was born in Marquette Michigan, February 4th, 1884 (and her parents were Edward and Anna [Hephner] Barnaby). The marriage of John and Edna occurred at her church, St. Ambrose, in Ironwood (where the Barnaby family had taken up residence), Michigan, on June 23, 1907. Musical training notwithstanding, a work opportunity for John as a mining engineer must have been the reason this nothern couple relocated to the Mexican border town of Nogales -- while Arizona was still only a territory (and during the era of the Mexican Revolution [right across that border] and the onset of the Pancho Villa years).
* From this union there were five children: Marian, Christine, and Jean were all Nogales-born in 1908, 1911, and 1913, respectively. Christine's only brother John, Jr. (also called "Jack"), was born in Santa Monica, California -- in 1918 when Chris was 7; and little sister Annes [pronounced "ANN-iss"] was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1923, when Chris was going on 12. It is likely that her two youngest siblings were born in faraway cities because the family moved around a lot -- probably because of the elder John McIntyre's mining jobs. It seems unlikely that the same expectant mother would let herself be caught twice on the road so far from her home, so these were probably semi-permanent moves...
In any event, the family stayed in Nogales at least for awhile, so Christine spent some of her girlhood (and possibly part of her school days) there. Somewhere between the birth of Annes in 1923 (in Texas) and 1928, the McIntyre family moved to Illinois, because Chris is on record as having graduated from Aquinas High School in Chicago in the spring of 1928. September of that same year, she enrolled as a freshman to study voice and drama at Chicago Musical College, having won a scholarship (CMC has since, in the mid-1950's, been absorbed by Roosevelt University). To win her scholarship she auditioned for none other than Herbert Witherspoon, the great basso star of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company (he had been a headliner in the earlier part of the century, but now in his later years he had taken a job as president of the Chicago Musical College... Christine's freshman year [1928-29] would be his final term in that position). There she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in May of 1933. She is also on record as having taken courses (during that 1928-33 period) at Loyola University and Central YMCA College.
Her first professional show business jobs were in radio and theatre while still a student in Chicago. But by 1936 she was in Los Angeles, showing up as a radio singer (on NBC) and appearing in the professional musical stage production THE BIRD OF PARADISE starring opposite actor Pierce Lyden. In 1937, however, (taking a Hollywood "single girl's" apartment on Franklin Ave. at about the age of 26) she broke into movies with a part in SWING FEVER (signing a short-term contract with RKO). This was a musical short starring Billy Gilbert (not to be confused with the 1944 Kay Kyser film of the same name).
RKO was the first studio to offer any kind of a contract to Christine. Already feeling the bite of Hollywood's cruel "youth ethic" she, sadly, shaved three years off her age to 23, a very common tactic to which many actresses (and actors as well) felt driven; a year later, for her leading film debut in RANGER'S ROUNDUP, she became 22. [It would not be the last time she took off years "for the record" -- at the time of her marriage in 1953, though really 42, she appears as 31 on paper.] During this period, at least for a time, she continued her singing studies...in this case with a voice coach named Luigi Rosselli. There may be a number of films she made in 1940 that have never been put on record, since this is a blank area in her filmography... she appeared in the musical short-short "Strauss Waltzes" which was filmed in New York, thus placing her in the Big Apple at least for a short period. There is also growing evidence that Christine may have been touring with Fortune Gallo's "San Carlo Opera Company" during this period of the late 1930's through the early 1940's (Gallo was an impresario/innovator of touring opera). If so, this would have limited her time for movie acting (I will update as information on this becomes available).
She made a string of movies, mostly westerns (first with Fred Scott at Spectrum, and finally signing a feature contract with Monogram, starring with leading men like Ray "Crash" Corrigan, Buck Jones, and Johnny Mack Brown).
In 1943 she was "discovered" by Columbia comedy shorts producer Hugh McCollum. Her first two-reeler for Columbia Pictures, under a freelancer's temporary contract, was the Slim Summerville western vehicle GARDEN OF EATIN' (memorable only because of Christine's all too brief supporting presense as Vernon Dent's wife) that premiered 10/22/1943. In 1944, she apparently signed a ten year shorts contract with Columbia (renewable by Columbia every year). Christine made her first film with Moe and Curly Howard and Larry Fine later that year ("Idle Roomers" released 7/16/1944 -- by which time her hair had become blonde...the color for which she is best remembered...in the Johnny Mack Brown western STRANGER FROM PECOS [Monogram, 7/16/1943] released exactly a year previous to the day, Christine was still a brunette). Throughout her entire film career, she appears to have been employed by Columbia as a "voice double" -- supplying onscreen singing talent to other actresses less musically endowed. She also continued supporting radio appearances at this time, as well.
Her breakthrough short with the famous trio was 1945's MICRO-PHONIES -- written and directed by Ed Bernds under McCollum's design and using a favorite concert piece of Christine's (Strauss' "Voice of Spring" which showed off her beautiful operatic soprano voice), it instantly became a favorite among fans of the three film comedians and focused attention on their female star. From there, she not only showed she could sing and ride a horse, but Christine developed into a studied comedic actor (and it was only through unfortunate twists of fate that she was never able to shift into a starring television role like contemporaries Lucille Ball and Joan Davis). Between portrayals in two-reelers, westerns, and other feature film work, she appeared in over a hundred twenty movies.
She married an actor/writer named J. Donald Wilson on June 27, 1953. Mr. Wilson's credits include having written the original story for the film THE WHISTLER (1944) and the script for KEY WITNESS (1947), and he was the narrator for Disney's THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941) [he also created the character/show "The Whistler" for radio (on which his film was based) and I have seen him referred to as a "radio pioneer"].
In 1954, shortly after her marriage and with her Columbia contract expired and un-renewed, Christine stopped making films and (with the exception of some of her old footage being reused in remakes) apparently retired from show business. The last short remade with Christine footage was FIFI BLOWS HER TOP (1958) [which includes scenes from 1950's LOVE AT FIRST BITE -- Christine portrayed the same character "Katrina" in the same footage in both shorts]. The last features containing Christine footage during her era are: 1960's STOP! LOOK! AND LAUGH!, ventriloquist Paul Winchell's movie that features heavy use of old Stooge shorts, and contains scenes of Chris in 1945'S MICRO-PHONIES; and FRIGID WIFE, which hit screens in 1962, but which is merely a re-issue of her 1950 feature A MODERN MARRIAGE, in which she plays a nurse.
In 1985 (the year following Christine's passing), Atlantic and Paramount Home Video released (direct to video) the low-budget Josh Mostel comedy STOOGEMANIA which featured numerous scenes from BRIDELESS GROOM (1947), including Shemp Howard (in a demonstration for Dee Green on the proper way to vocalize) conducting the record on which Christine is singing "Voices of Spring" -- and also the famous scene of Chris, as "Miss Hopkins," beating up Shemp for not being Cousin Basil. If you listen carefully to 1994's contorversial PULP FICTION you will discover that Christine's voice sneaks in from a background television playing BRIDELESS GROOM. And most recently, some of these same scenes, as well as some from THE HOT SCOTS, were used in the 3/2003 television event THE THREE STOOGES 75th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL. No doubt clips of Christine have also been used in other, lesser known Stooge compilations -- as they surely will be used in future compilations, given the enduring popularity of the Howard Boys and company.
* During the time period from Christine's last film appearances until her passing, she and her husband worked at making a living out of the "spotlight" -- it is believed that they travelled regualarly during these decades. In any event, by 1974 she had drifted far from the center of show business and was working with her husband as an investor/manager of a group of apartment buildings in the Van Nuys, California, area. In January of 1975, when Larry Fine died, Christine attended his funeral services. Shortly after Moe Howard's death, she evidentally was talked into appearing in public at some movie theater's Stooge Film Festival, along with Emil Sitka and others, filling in for Moe; it is said that this went very badly because of some aggresively obnoxious fans and it played largely in her decision never to appear as a "Stooge Personality" again.
In the early hours of Jan. 26th, 1984, after a long history of cardiac problems, J.D. experienced a heart attack. He died in his wife's arms, poignantly passing away only months before her. Christine herself died of cancer the following July 8th, in Van Nuys, California. John Donald and Christine McIntyre Wilson are interred at Holy Cross Cemetery on West Slauson Avenue in Culver City, California.
* Christine and J. D. had no children. She was preceded in death by her parents -- Edna passed away in 1948 in Glendale, California, John, Sr. in 1960 in L. A. (on Feb. 3rd, his 82nd birthday) -- her brother John who died in 1983, and her sister Jean McIntyre Martin who died back in 1967. At the time of Christine's passing, she was still survived by two of her sisters (Marian McIntyre Walecki passed away in 1990; Annes passed away in 1997). Today, Christine is survived by nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
I will continue to hunt for other biographical items and will post them here little by little as they become known. [Check the Acknowledgments page for the names of people who have been in contact with me regarding the details of Christine's life and career, and who have contributed greatly to this and other pages of the site.]