Biography

Pamela Blake used her real name (Adele Pearce) when decorating the background in Eight Girls in a Boat (1934) and when she returned to Hollywood after a four-year hiatus to study acting in her hometown of Oakland. The diminutive brunette charmer played opposite Tex Ritter in Grand National's low-budget Utah Trail (1938), a less than pleasant experience, she later recalled, but she was obviously going somewhere when director John Farrow (Mia's father) took her under his wing at RKO. Farrow, who, according to Pearce, could be quite the tyrant, directed her in Sorority House (1939) and Full Confession (1939), but her biggest chance came at Paramount, where she tested with Alan Ladd and played the minor, but rather showy, role of Annie in This Gun for Hire (1942), Ladd's breakthrough movie. As it turned out, the classic film noir proved a breakthrough of sorts for Pearce as well. At her request, Paramount had renamed her Pamela Blake and, as such, she signed a contract with industry leader MGM. Although the studio never really offered her the opportunity for true stardom, Blake turned up in several popular programmers, including Maisie Gets Her Man (1942) with Ann Sothern and Red Skelton and the Western The Omaha Trail (1942) with James Craig. According to Blake herself, however, MGM canceled her contract when she failed to notify the studio that she was leaving town. Despite the loss of a major studio contract, Pamela Blake rebounded on poverty row and is today best remembered for her roles in such action serials as Chick Carter, Detective (1946) and The Ghost of Zorro (1948), the latter made by Republic Pictures, Blake's favorite studio. "Everybody out there was wonderful; it seemed like a small town," she would later recall. The early '50s brought several guest stints on such television shows as The Cisco Kid and The Range Rider, but Blake's acting career was waning when, in 1953, she decided to retire and raise her family with television producer Mike Stokey (Pantomime Quiz). She had previously been married to actor/stuntman Malcolm "Bud" McTaggart. (Both marriages ended in divorce.) The mother of Michael W. Stokey, a military advisor on such major motion pictures as The Thin Red Line (1998) and Hart's War (2002), Blake surprisingly claims the 1943 Monogram thriller The Unknown Guest as her favorite among almost 50 films and a dozen or so television appearances. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi