True confessions: I read the New York Times Obituaries every single day, the first thing (sometimes the only thing) I read in the paper. Naturally, I’m drawn immediately to the ones for people who are my age or younger, then I turn to the ones that look a little quirky.
Today brought “quirky” — and a mention of Charles and Anne Lindbergh.
It was an obituary for Claudine Mawby, age 90, the last remaining of a set of British “triplets” who were, briefly, child stars in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Actually, as the article pointed out, they were a set of twin girls (Claudine and Claudette) and their slightly older sister (Angella) who strongly resembled them. The story goes that the girls traveled with their mother to Los Angeles in 1927 for what was to be a short visit, but they were spotted by newspaper photographers and studio talent scouts, and they were soon making appearances in “the pictures.” Their moment in the blazing sun of Hollywood celebrity was brief, however, since their parents–alarmed by the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby in March 1932–whisked their sweet blonde “triplets” back to safety in England.
Ironically, England turned out to be deadly for one of the children: Claudette was killed at age 19, caught in a German bombing raid of Brighton, England in 1941.
The “protective parent” reaction of the Mawby girls’ parents–while somewhat extreme–was, however, repeated over and over again across America in the early 1930s, as the sensationalist press machines went into overdrive in the wake of the “Crime of the Century.”