See May 2010 Pansy Craze Show

Jean Malin

Jean (sometimes Gene) Malin got his start as a female impersonator in the 20s, but his greatest success would come later as a noted emcee during the time of the short-lived and under-researched "pansy craze" of the early 30s. He died on August 10, 1933, accidentally backing his car off the Santa Monica pier; actress Patsy Kelly, who was with him at the time, survived. He left behind but two recordings, released posthumously and pressed in a single royal blue shellac 78, "That's What's the Matter With Me" and "I'd Rather Be Spanish Than Mannish." [Source: "Gay New York (Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940)" by George Chauncey]

Below, from Vanity Fair, February 1931, Jean Malin at the Club Abbey

click for larger image, and much more

Malin Video Clip

Malin appeared in at least two movies, and I've got a clip of him in "Arizona to Broadway" (1933), which starred James Dunn and Joan Bennett. Malin had an uncredited role as Ray Best, a female impersonator obviously intended to represent Mae West. To set up this scene, a gangster, Tommy Monk, wants to have a Broadway show so at gunpoint lures top performers of the day to take part. Also represented was Jimmy Durante and Ed Wynn. This is the earliest clip I know of a performance of an actual female impersonator.

Video Clip, Arizona

And here's pretty good American Masters bio one...and hey, I'm even in the credits.

Video Clip

Below, two stills from the movie "From Arizona To Broadway,"

with Jean Malin's character Ray Best, "doing" Mae West

Above, left to right, Max Wagner, Jean Malin, J Carrol Naish

Below, with Walter Catlett

My show for May 2010 was devoted entirely to The Pansy Craze, Click to hear it.

to just hear my intro and these two songs
Click Here

This recording has been a top Holy Grail one for me, and I finally tracked down a copy, May 2022

Below label scans courtesy of Tyler Alpern


the coloration on these three different labels is interesting
and here's a clipping on the posthumous release

And, who is the writer of the Malin songs?
Eugene Conrad
Thanks to Randy Riddle for tracking this down

So little survives about Jean Malin, so I'm sharing these two pics of him, from a copy of
"Modern Screen" from 1933, and also a menu from a restaurant where he emceed


Below, (on the right) from promotional shots for the 1933 movie "Double Harness"

Jean Malin was originally cast in the role of a dress-shop owner for this film,
but the scenes were reshot with another actor, Fredric Santley. Malin was
thought too flamboyant for the part and reportedly studio president B.B. Kahane
wrote in an inter-studio memo that "I do not think we ought to have this man
on the lot on any picture-shorts or features."

Double Harness

Below, another promotional shot, of a scene not in the movie,
with Ann Harding and Lucile Browne

For trivia sake, below is Fredric Santley, who replaced Jean Malin in "Double Harness"

Fredric Santley

Below, from Richard Lamparski's very interesting book
"Hollywood Diary: Twelve Untold Tales"

Above, 1932, Club New Yorker, with Thelma Todd, Pat DiCicco, Lois Wilson
below, as it appeared in the press

Below, Club New Yorker, 1/17/33, with Maurice Chevalier, Marlene Dietrich,
and her husband, Rudolph Sieber





Most of the articles below are from syndicated gossip columns, rather
than news items, so they do not really reflect the city the paper is from
the two below are an example




The irony of the above caption is hilarious...
as in 1932 you could hardly get more gay than Jean Malin








Sid Grauman (of Grauman's Chinese Theatre) apparently
arranged for a short piece called "Hollywood As It Ain't"
to be performed when the film "Gold Diggers of 1933" was shown;
and Malin had a role in it. It's unclear if this was a filmed piece.



the 78 rpm recording was released after his death

Below, NYT article reporting his death

Malin obit

Below, two more Malin obituaries

and, Mrs. Malin made the papers years later on her own, notoriously...


New addition (Dec 2010)

Jean Malin show ad

from "The Harlequin's Installation Revel, at the Masquers"
October 16, 1932

actual size ad, 5"x7"

Front cover of The Masquers Program
Click to see selected pages

And, below, one of the crowns of my memorabilia collection...

In the 20's & 30's it was common for club goers to show appreciation by "clapping" with
special noisemakers. The one below was from 1932, (see clipping below) when Malin was
still in New York City, before he went to Hollywood.

Below, an internet friend Brian Ferree sent me these photos
he took of the gravestone of Jean Malin in 2014, Brooklyn,
and, after my own heart, he left pansies