Sara Shane aka Elaine Hollingsworth.

 

I recently watched a 1956 Clark Gable western titled The King and Four Queens and was struck by the beauty of one of the leading ladies, an actress named Sara Shane. Indeed, she was not the only beauty in the picture for it featured one of my all-time favourite screen goddesses Eleanor Parker as well. But I found myself wondering about Miss Shane and how her career and life had panned out. Why had she not gone on to do bigger things? Her story, I soon discovered, is an intriguing one and it has not ended yet.

With Gable in The King & 4 Queens (1956)

Jean Willes, Sara & Barbara Nichols in

The King & Four Queens

She was born Elaine Sterling in Kirkwood, Missouri in 1928. Of English-Irish-German descent, she began modelling at 14, while at school in St. Louis, and that led to a modelling contract in New York City by the time she had turned 17. Her great beauty saw her signed to an MGM contract within four months and she was quickly on her way to Hollywood just as the Second World War drew to a close. Her first evening in Hollywood was partially spent on a blind date with a wealthy real estate man named William Hollingsworth. He would become her husband four years later.

Sara at the peak of her beauty

Still under her real name she made her screen debut in 1948 in Easter Parade. Her first speaking part was in the Esther Williams vehicle Neptune’s Daughter the following year, but her marriage that same year curtailed her acting career for about five years, her husband insistent that she focus on home duties and their son who was born in 1951. Around that time the 23 year-old beauty met and became friends with actress Hedy LaMarr who convinced Elaine to resume her career. She and Hollingsworth separated (they divorced in 1957), and Elaine signed a one-year contract with Universal Producer Walter Wanger who suggested she hire flamboyant agent Russell Birdwell to kick-start her career. He changed her name to Sara Shane (the movie Shane was popular at the time), and commenced a promotional campaign to get her known. Hedda Hopper met her at a party and was greatly impressed by her striking looks. Before long Sara was listed as one of Hollywood’s ‘Debs’, along with Marilyn (soon to be Kim) Novak, Pat Crowley, Anne Francis, Joan O’Brien and others. The National Illustrator’s League named 25 year old Sara ‘the most perfectly boned female in the Americas’. Her 37-23-34 vital statistics may have had a lot to do with their choice.

In 1954 she landed a showcase role in Rock Hudson’s breakout film Magnificent Obsession. Even so, Universal dropped her after one year. ‘I did the whole thing backwards’, Sara reminisced. ‘I should have gotten a firm foundation as an actress, and then gone after the publicity build-up. The Birdwell stunt developed my name to the point where I should have been doing star roles. But I wasn’t ready for them.’ Working freelance she scored a couple of featured roles, including The King and Four Queens and Affair in Havana (1957), but the quality of the films did not improve. Some television work followed until 1959 when she played opposite Gordon Scott in one of the better ape man films Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure. Among the cast was a virtually unknown young man named Sean Connery, about three years before he hit it big as James Bond in Dr No (1962). This was Sara’s tenth and final movie. At the age of 31 she turned her back on Hollywood and moved into real estate, buying, refurbishing and selling houses for substantial profits.

Sara and John Cassavetes in Affair in Havana’

   With Gordon Scott

Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959)

In her mid-thirties she took her son (and her considerable nest-egg) to Europe, living successfully in London, Paris and Rome, before moving again – this time to Africa. By 1964 she was back in Los Angeles doing real estate deals. A friend loaned her a boat for a trip of her choosing, and Sara decided to sail it to the Caribbean! There she fell in love with (of all places) Haiti, then under the dictatorship of the barbaric Papa Doc. Part of her three years in Petionville, a small mountain village outside the capital Port-au-Prince, was spent with actress Yvette Mimieux. They formed a company called ‘Partners in Paradise’ and sold fashions made by poor Haitian women in a villa nearby. Much of the profits were channelled back into benefits for under-privileged Haitian children. Sara also penned anonymous critical articles for publication in local papers, attacking Papa Doc’s corruption and brutality; courageous, but extremely dangerous work. During her Haitian sojourn she contracted dengue fever from a mosquito bite and was gravely ill for some time. In 1971, after three years in Haiti, Sara returned to Los Angeles and published her first book, a novel titled Zulma, about an 18 year-old trans-sexual she met in a Mexican prison during her endeavours to have a friend released from a marijuana possession charge. Then, in 1980, at the age of 52, she packed up yet again and moved to Queensland, Australia.

   Yvette Mimieux

In Australia, content to put her movie career past behind her, Sara changed her name for the last time, opting for Elaine Hollingsworth, combining her real Christian name with her former husband’s surname. Back in the 1950s she learned about nutrition and health foods inspired by some lengthy conversations with movie star Gloria Swanson. Since then, Elaine has devoted decades to investigating and exposing the dangers and failings of the so-called health industry. She has studied the findings of many lettered experts in the field and has opened a facility in Queensland called the Hippocrates Health Centre. Her best-selling book, ‘Take Control of Your Health and Escape the Sickness Industry’, has sold in excess of a million copies. It takes direct aim at the pharmaceutical multinationals ‘and their medical co-conspirators’; warns about ‘the life-threatening effects of artificial sweeteners’, and explains ‘why soy is not fit to eat’. She has made enemies of some very powerful people but Elaine Hollingsworth has continued to stand by her words. I am neither a medical man nor a nutritionist, so I have no idea if her claims are substantiated or not, but one thing is clearly evident. Elaine herself has no doubts – none whatsoever – and she has been fighting this fight for decades.

Sara at 73 (2001)

In her mid-eighties in Queensland

As of May 2016, Sara Shane/Elaine Hollingsworth has reached the age of 88 and she is still going strong. And she is still a great beauty, although I doubt very much if that is of any interest to her. She has bigger fish to fry. It has been quite a life’s journey for this remarkable woman. Her website title is typical of her lack of fear about upsetting the establishment. It is called ‘www. somedoctorsaredangerous.com’, hardly a name that would endear her to the medical profession, but Sara/Elaine is not about winning popularity contests. Is she right? I don’t know. But I will be buying her book shortly and judging for myself. Two things are undeniable, however. Her book has sold over a million copies and she has been fighting this battle for over 30 years without being closed down. I have watched her video on ‘Soy: The Abominable Bean’, and she comes across as a most sincere, dedicated individual. I have little doubt she is.

 

10 Comments on Sara Shane aka Elaine Hollingsworth.

  1. David Smith // August 5, 2017 at 11:50 pm // Reply

    A truly remarkable woman, living a remarkable life, and as you have mentioned, one of the most beautiful women of all time.
    I had the pleasure of seeing her in “Tarzans Greatest Adventure”, and her character “Angie” was the best character in it. This comment sometimes infers that the film wasn’t particularly good, but nothing could be further from the truth, Tarzans Greatest Adventure is considered to be the greatest Tarzan film ever made. Released in 1969, Greatest Adventure broke with the usual formula of Tarzan films in which Tarzan faced white big game hunters, or African natives.
    Tarzans Greatest Adventure had a good plot, and a first class cast with Anthony Quine and a pre Bond Sean Connery giving powerhouse performances. All of the characters had depth, even the baddies, it is a very gritty Tarzan film, Tarzan is pitted against the bad guys, his bow and arrows against rifles and dynamite, and the action sequences don’t always go Tarzans way. The character of Angie is a departure from the usual female Tarzan characters, who were usually helpless, and there to be saved by Tarzan. Angie was a assertive bush pilot, and although initially save by Tarzan after her plane crashes, the character actually grows as the film progresses, adapting to the jungle and the life or death battle. Angie displays resourcefulness and great bravery breaking into the baddies boat to get penicillin for Tarzan after he is badly injured, Elaine I believe, insisted in performing all her own stunts, was this usual for the time?
    As has been mentioned I am sure that Elaine is far to busy, and has “bigger fish to fry”, but it would be wonderful to imagine that she is aware of how fondly she is remembered for a role in which she performed so magnificently.
    All the very best Elaine.

    • Thank you for your kind words regarding Elaine. She truly is a remarkable woman and I hope to be spending some time with her later this month if all goes well. If that happens I shall pass on your comments to her.

      • David Smith // August 7, 2017 at 1:38 am // Reply

        Thank you for your reply, after going over my comments I realised that I had made two errors, Tarzans Greatest Adventure was released in 1959, not 1969, and it was Anthony Quayle and not Anthony Quine( I thought I had checked as well).
        I hope all goes well and you spend some time with Elaine, and it wold be wonderful indeed if you passed on my comments.

        • Yes, David, Elaine spoke of Anthony Quayle and Sean Connery in the brief phone chat we had. I have the movie in my collection, as indeed I have all of her movies. Lovely lady.

          • David Smith // August 11, 2017 at 12:44 am //

            I believe that the producers asked both Anthony Quayle and Sean Connery back to appear in the next Tarzan film, Tarzan the Magnificent. Both actors declined, Anthony Quayle because he was to star in Lawrence Of Arabia, and Sean Connery was about to kick off the Bond franchise.
            Both actors would have had to have played different characters, as their characters met their end in Greatest Adventure, although its not too difficult to guess the parts the producers had in mind, Quayle would presumably played Pa Banton, and Connery would have played Coy. If this had come to pass, Gordon Scott would have gone down in movie history, as having killed James Bond twice.
            What I consider the supreme irony, is that the one actress they could(should) have asked back is Elaine, who could have reprised her role as Angie, she would have fitted seamlessly into the film and expanded the character even more.
            I have read several reviews of Tarzans Greatest Adventure, and it is noticeable that in just about every review, the character of Angie stands above all the others, quite an achievement considering the quality of the cast.
            Perhaps one day, Angie could be return in print, and her journey continued.

          • Elaine told me she was impressed by Connery when they made that picture and felt he was destined for better things. ‘Dr No’ was not released until 1962, three years further on, so I am not entirely convinced that he had already signed for it. However, I shall be meeting Elaine at the end of August and shall be asking her about that (and a host of other things). I imagine she will have some tales to tell.

  2. Joe De Lede // June 14, 2016 at 10:56 pm // Reply

    Thanx Admin, great article.

    I’m happy to report Elaine [Sara Shane] is going from strength-to-strength on the Gold Coast Hinterland south of Brisbane, Australia.

    Below is the text of a letter her Support Group recently emailed to one of the movers & shakers within the US publishing industry.

    Elaine Sterling was one of the most beautiful women, ever to have walked the Earth. Also – quite possibly – the least narcissistic, to boot.

    She has never been a self-promoter & her Support Group is now seeking a suitable writer/editor/publisher to tell the remarkable story of her life – a Maverick American beauty who did it her way, without regret.

    Anyone with ideas as to how to connect Elaine to the right biographer – please let us know.
    ________________________________________________________________________________
    re. Seeking Biographer for former Hollywood Celebrity ‘Sara Shane’

    x

    to dwilson, attn.elaine

    Hello Dennis, we [Friends of Elaine] are writing to you on behalf of our friend, confidante & Director of ‘The Hippocrates Foundation’ Elaine Hollingsworth [née Sterling] – former Hollywood movie star ‘Sara Shane’.

    Elaine was the consummate Hollywood insider during the post-war years & now wants to tell her life story. She is also an American-blueblood, being first cousin of both William Sterling Parsons – who masterminded the Manhattan Project & fused the bomb – midflight – which destroyed Hiroshima; … & Christian Herter, Eisenhower’s Paris-born, Secretary of State who masterminded the Marshall Plan. Her ancestry traces directly back to John Alden of the Mayflower pilgrims.

    She is currently developing her latest project – ‘The Hippocrates Foundation Planetary Healing & Education Precinct’ in the Gold Coast Hinterland south of Brisbane Australia.

    Like her best friend & mentor Hedy Lamarr, Elaine is a highly intelligent woman who graduated from Hollywood to build a career in business & is now – in her Third Age – launching a new project to salvage the biosphere; … we have been privy to many of her insider stories re. the Hollywood celebrities of the 1940’s, 50’s & 60’s – from Harold Lloyd to Burt Reynolds, she knew them all as close friends … & some as lovers. Also a top model for Givenchy & the Powers Agency in New York.

    Any assistance you may be able to provide in connecting Elaine to a suitable biographer/editor/publisher would be much appreciated.

    Kind regards, Friends of Elaine, Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, QLD.

    ref.

    Sara Shane – The Private Life and Times of Sara Shane. Sara Shane …
    http://www.glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com/show/245/Sara+Shane/register.php
    Sara Shane (Elaine Sterling); Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen – The Private Lives … 18 May 28, is born in Kirkwood, Missouri, of English-Irish-German descent.

  3. s.allensalp810@ // May 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm // Reply

    Glad to know that she had other interests BEYOND the movie industry!
    She is quite lovely; so is Mimieux!

    • Yes. As soon as I saw her in ‘Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure’ I thought, ‘Wow! Who is this girl and what happened to her?’ She has certainly lived her life to the full. Remarkable lady.

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