"Marjorie Reynolds, a blonde newcomer," enthused Variety, "is a comely looker of much talent, poise and versatility, who will certainly calendar her own professional prominence from the springboard of this Crosby- Astaire filmusical." The curious use of the word "calendar" (to denote "gain") can be explained by the fact that the film under review was Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn (1942). The use of the word "newcomer" is also curious; the 21-year-old Miss Reynolds was then the veteran of more than 40 films, having made her screen debut 19 years earlier.
Born Marjorie Goodspeed, she was taken to Los Angeles as a small child and enrolled in dance classes by her ambitious mother. As Marjorie Moore, she was soon appearing on the silent screen with Ramon Navarro in Scaramouche (1923), and with Viola Dana in Revelation (1924). After a brief retirement, she returned to make her first talkie, John Barrymore's Svengali (1931). She played small roles in College Humour (1933) and The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935), both of which starred her future leading man Bing Crosby. After College Holiday (1936), Broadway Melody of 1938 and Champagne Waltz (both 1937), she appeared with Tex Ritter in Tex Rides With the Boy Scouts (1938), the first of 14 small-budget westerns she would make in the next four years, opposite such sagebrush stars as Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Bob Baker, George O'Brien, Tim Holt and Roy Rogers. In between she toiled in equally low-rent thrillers.
Less than a week before Holiday Inn went into production, Paramount Pictures had yet to find a suitable leading lady. Their problem was solved when the choreographer Danny Dare recommended an actress/ dancer with whom he had worked on various musicals. The studio wasted precious time searching for Marjorie Moore before learning that she'd changed her name in 1937, after marrying one Jack Reynolds. Once they had found and screen-tested her, she was eagerly signed and flung into dance rehearsals with Fred Astaire. True, she wasn't much of a singer, but since when has that ever posed a problem to Hollywood? Martha Mears dubbed her vocals, and Paramount were so pleased with her performance in Holiday Inn that they awarded her a seven-year contract, and cast her opposite Crosby again in Dixie (1943), the alleged biography of the composer Dan Emmett, in which, as his loyal wife, she inspired the writing of the title song. …