The Tragic Death of Caryll Ann Ekelund

Caryll Ann Ekelund

The Blue Bird is a bizarre film.  It was released in 1940 starringShirley Temple.  It’s sort of an It’s a Wonderful Life, meetsThe Wizard of Oz meets A Christmas Carol.  It was unsuccessful because Shurl played a beastly little child – andpeople didn’t like it.  She lied, she bullied, she stole… fabulous. There are killer trees, fairies and a cat that triesto kill them (well, it’s not all fictional).  This film is apparently 20thCentury Fox’s answer to MGM’s The Wizard of Oz complete with theblack and white/color transition, and a large part of the plot being a dream sequence – and many many moresimilarities.

My Pal Mark Langlois flagged this story for us:

In Shirley Temple’s autobiography ChildStar, she makes a passing mention about the “unfortunate” young actress who was “burned to death” duringthe shooting of The Bluebird.” Upon further exploring, Mark cameacross a page dedicated to glamorousstarlets.  You see, Caryll had a sister that grew up to be the actressJana Lund.  This page had important details about poor Caryll.

I contacted my pal Joe Walker who then amazinglyfound an actual article that mentions Caryll.  The piece actually focusedon Halloween rambunctious ness of various LA communities including 200 BeverlyHills boys and girls that had a mad tomato and watermelon throwing spree. Various effigies were burned around town, and the soap business went up from thelittle dickens soaping windows.  Those were the days, eh?  Now they’redodging bullets.  Especially in Caryll’s neighborhood.

A very tiny mention at the article Joe found,”Emergency hospitals were kept busy with calls from mothers whoseoverzealous pixies got fingers burned from jack o’ lanterns.  Most seriouswas the case of Carol Ann Ekeland, 4, treated at Georgia Street ReceivingHospital for first and second-degree burns received when her costume caught firefrom her lantern in front of her home.”

This is the homewhere it happened.   She died on November 3, 1939 at the now gone GeorgiaStreet Receiving Hospital.

Caryll was buried at Forest Lawn Glendale. Her little casket was carried up a very steep hill by her five older brothers.  Agraveside quartet sang Caryll’s favorite song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Her burial shroud is the toga she worein The Blue Bird.

Mark adds, “The tragedy happened 25 years before thoseBen Cooper “flame retardant” plasticcostumes were all the rage in America.”

Some of those costumes are downright weirdas hell.  Thanks Kathleen.

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