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Iowa’s own Priscilla Lane joins Cary Grant in a “madcap” adventure

August 24, 2012
By Tom LaVille , Times-Republican

Marshalltown movie goers are in for a big treat this weekend at the Orpheum Movie Theater. Not only can viewers see a classic movie, "Arsenic and Old Lace," with Cary Grant, but it also co-stars one of Iowa's own. Priscilla Lane is one of the best singers/actresses - and littlest known - born in Iowa.

Priscilla and sisters Rosemary and Leota were all born in Indianola. Leota was more successful on the Broadway stage, whereas Rosemary, Priscilla and older sister Lola were successful in Hollywood. Priscilla began her career singing, along with Rosemary, for the Fred Waring band.

Her first film appearance was as a singer in the Fred Waring Band. Priscilla starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "Sabatour" with Robert Cummings; with John Garfield in "Dust is my Destiny" and with Jack Benny in "The Meanest Man in the World." Several of the sisters - Priscilla, Rosemary and Lola - starred in a series of movies beginning with "Four Daughters."

If that isn't enough, "Arsenic and Old Lace" stars one of the most handsome and talented actors to come out of Hollywood in the 1930s, Cary Grant.

Together, Grant and Lane make a very cute pair. The movie centers around a writer (Grant) who returns to his maiden aunts' home with Lane to find that his aunts are serial killers. Strange as the premise sounds, the film is loaded with laughs and an outstanding supporting cast: Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton, Peter Lorre and James Gleason, just to name a few. Filmed in 1944 from a screenplay by Julius and Philip Epstein, the movie is considered one of the Top 250 movies ever made.

Also, the Marshalltown Community Theatre will be presenting the play, Arsenic and Old Lace, on which the film is based, on Oct. 19 through Oct. 21 and Oct. 26 and 27 at the Martha Ellen Tye Theatre.

I'm sure that this movie will qualify as one of your favorite classics. The show times are 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit the theatre for tours, or call the Orpheum Theater Center movie hotline at 641-844-5907 or visit


Tom LaVille is a retired Marshalltown drama and literature teacher and is heavily involved in the Marshalltown Community Theatre. LaVille's Critic's Corner column appears Friday in the Times-Republican.



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