Christine Cecilia McIntyre (April 16, 1911 – July 8, 1984) was an American actress who appeared in many movies in the 1930s and 1940s but is mainly known as the beautiful blonde actress who appeared in many Three Stoogesshorts produced by Columbia Pictures.
A native of Nogales, Arizona, Christine McIntyre was one of five children. A classically trained singer, McIntyre received a Bachelor of Music degree at Chicago Musical College in 1933. It was here that she developed her operatic soprano voice, which would be put to good use in several Three Stooges films in the 1940s. McIntyre began singing in feature films at RKO Pictures, and made her film debut in 1937's Swing Fever. She then appeared in a series of B-westerns featuring the likes of Ray Corrigan and Buck Jones. She appeared with dark hair in these early roles, and also appeared occasionally in "mainstream" feature films (like 1939's Blondie Takes a Vacation). She sang songs such as "The Blue Danube" and "Voices of Spring" in a Vienna-themed short Soundies musical film, and her performance was singled out as the best of the inaugural series. Her singing in this soundie may have given the Three Stooges the idea of using "Voices of Spring" in their short film Micro-Phonies.
The Three Stooges and Columbia Pictures
It was in 1944 that Columbia Pictures producer Hugh McCollum signed Christine McIntyre to a decade-long contract. During her time at Columbia, she appeared in many short subjects starring Shemp Howard, Andy Clyde, Joe Besser, Bert Wheeler, and Hugh Herbert. The Herbert comedy Wife Decoy is actually a showcase for McIntyre, who is the principal character. In this film, she appears as a brunette who dyes her hair blonde. From then on in her screen appearances, she remained a blonde. In all of her Columbia comedies she demonstrated a capable range, playing charming heroines, scheming villains, and flighty socialites equally well.
Her performance as Miss Hopkins in Brideless Groom featured a knockabout scene in which she beats voice instructor Shemp Howard into submission. Director Edward Bernds remembers:
"In the story, Shemp had a few hours in which to get married if he wanted to inherit his uncle's fortune. He called on Christine McIntyre, who mistook him for her cousin (Basil) and greeted him with hugs and kisses. Then the real cousin phoned and she accused Shemp of kissing her, as it were, under false pretenses. At this point, she was supposed to slap Shemp around. Lady that she was, Chris couldn't do it right; she dabbed at him daintily, afraid of hurting him. After a couple of bad takes, Shemp pleaded with her. 'Honey,' he said, 'if you want to do me a favor, cut loose and do it right. A lot of half-hearted slaps hurts more than one good one. Give it to me, Chris, and let's get it over with.' Chris got up her courage and on the next take, let Shemp have it. 'It' wound up as a whole series of slaps—the timing was beautiful; they rang out like pistol shots. Shemp was knocked into a chair, bounced up, met another ringing slap, fell down again, scrambled up, trying to explain, only to get another stinging slap. Then Chris delivered a haymaker—a right that knocked Shemp through the door. When the take was over, Shemp was groggy, really groggy. Chris put her arms around him and apologized tearfully. 'It's alright, honey,' Shemp said painfully. 'I said you should cut loose and you did. You sure as hell did!'"
Producer McCollum and director Bernds recognized Christine McIntyre's abilities, and often tailored material especially for her, allowing her to improvise as she saw fit.
McIntyre also won a feature-film contract with Monogram Pictures. After playing a newspaper publisher in News Hounds, a comedy with The Bowery Boys, she usually played opposite Monogram's cowboy stars in low-budget Westerns. Her attractive features belied that she was close to 40 years of age at the time, much more mature than the conventional ingenue.
McIntyre married radio personality J. Donald Wilson in 1953. By this time, her mentors Hugh McCollum and Edward Bernds had left Columbia, leaving Jules White in charge of short subjects. White favored strenuous, extremely physical humor, and forced the ladylike McIntyre to submit to low comedy; in a single film, her character was tackled, hit with messy projectiles, covered with cake batter, and knocked into a cross-eyed stupor. When her contract at Columbia expired in 1954, she was all too happy to retire from show business, eventually developing a career in real estate. Columbia continued to use old footage of McIntyre through 1958, which is why she received billing in films made after her retirement.
Wilson's sudden death from a heart attack in January 1984 took its toll on McIntyre. She was already suffering from cancer at the time of his passing, and his death worsened her illness. McIntyre died in Van Nuys, California on July 8, 1984, six months after her husband. She was 73. She had no children.
Filmography with The Three Stooges
McIntyre in a still taken from the film "Rock River Renegades"