The studio announced that Garfield would make his first
appearance in "The Sisters," with Errol Flynn and Bette Davis,
then it was to be in "The Patent Leather Kid", then "Girls
on Probation" (yikes!) - but for one reason or another, none of
these came through.
Success was heady, and Garfield eventually accepted Warners' offer of a seven-year contract. Robbie soon joined him and the two took up residence in Hollywood. In the fall, their daughter Katherine was born, and Garfield was on top of the world.
Warner Bros Studio in the '30s and '40s was a factory - and Garfield became part of the well-oiled machinery, turning out 4 and 5 films per year. Not unlike Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, his initial role had made such an impact on audiences (and on the Warner coffers) that he was continuously cast in replicas of Mickey Borden roles. And, also like Cagney and Robinson, Garfield would fight this typecasting - with only marginal success.
Garfield was a staunch liberal, idolized FDR, and during World War
II did more than almost any big star of the time to further America's
cause. Turned down for military service because of heart problems, Garfield
became a travelling entertainer, a war bond salesman, and joined with
Bette Davis to form the Hollywood Canteen - a combination restaurant/showplace
where servicemen on leave in Los Angeles could, at no cost, have meals
served to them by the likes of Joan Crawford and Lana Turner, dance
with Ann Sheridan or Joan Leslie, and watch Benny Goodman orTommy Dorsey
into gossip columns that all was not entirely well with the Garfield
marriage; it wasn't that John chased women - quite the opposite - but
he apparently had a low threshold of resistance.
Katherine suffered from severe allergies that had always been controllable
- until a day she was on a picnic at a friend's ranchhouse.
Kat was struck with an attack and had difficulty breathing. Her condition worsened when she returned home, and before she could be rushed to the hospital, she died of strangulation. She was just 6 years old.
Garfield was totally devastated and never fully recovered from the loss - a gloom that had never been apparent before would at times overshadow his naturally sunny disposition. continue>>