This is what makes blogging all worthwhile: our good friend Who Am Us of the blog Who Am Us Anyway (check it out here) wrote in the comment section of "Carole Lombard In The Public Domain" that "Believe or no, this was my first-ever viewing of My Man Godfrey." To introduce someone to a classic movie—well, for a blogger, it doesn't get any better than that.
That he also had the same reaction to My Man Godfrey that I did, that's just icing on the cake:
And ahh, Gail Patrick as Cornelia—have you written about her before? Must check ... dang! The search button produces results in the amount of zero! Well, I'm a Gail fan starting tonight ...
That's the phenomenon known as "the hotter younger sister," which the fine, fine folks at Bright Lights After Dark wrote about at some length last year. As they so eloquently put it, "damn is she hot!"
Born Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick in Birmingham, Alabama, Patrick was the dean of women at Howard College and was studying law at the University of Alabama when she entered a nationwide contest for a part in a Paramount film. She didn't win, but she was offered a film contract and moved to Hollywood.
Appropriate to a blog currently covering 1932-33, Patrick made her film debut in the 1932 film If I Had A Million, starring Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton and George Raft. She typically played arrogant socialites and femme fatales and is best known for three comedic roles—Carole Lombard's scheming sister in My Man Godfrey, a haughty wannabe actress who clashes with Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn in Stage Door and Cary Grant's not-so-favored bride in My Favorite Wife.
Patrick appeared in sixty-two movies between 1932 and 1948.
She abandoned acting when she married her third husband, literary agent Cornwell Jackson. One of Jackson's clients was mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner who created the fictional defense lawyer Perry Mason. Patrick (credited now as Gail Patrick Jackson) obtained the rights to Perry Mason and for nine seasons produced one of the most successful television series in American history.
Patrick died of leukemia in 1980 at the age of sixty-nine.