Don't miss the Jack Grinnage interview below !!
Marie Isabel Draesemer was born on March 26, 1913 in San Francisco. As a young girl, Isabel loved the stage, and at age 16, won a Shakespearean contest in her local school district. But rather than move into acting, Isabel found careers in radio production and talent management. In 1938, she owned and operated Draesemer Radio Productions, writing radio scripts and teaching a course in radio broadcasting.
By 1947, she decided to become an actor's agent and founded The Isabel Draesemer Agency, where she guaranteed her place in history when she discovered a teenaged college student and a future Hollywood icon named James Byron Dean. Isabel needed to find a new face for a Pepsi ad, so she gathered up several students from UCLA and picked Dean. After encouraging him to move to New York where stage work would be more plentiful, James Dean went on to become one of Hollywood's most enduring legends.
Isabel coached a number of actors to stardom, including Hugh O'Brian, Buddy Ebsen, Joey Lawrence, Roger Perry, and Tex Terry. "I had sworn I would never marry an actor" she said, but in 1964 while coaching the career of b-movie stuntman and 'heavy' Edward Earl 'Tex' Terry, Isabel Draesemer became Isabel Terry. When Tex retired from the movie business in 1972, the couple moved to Mansfield, Indiana and then to Tex's hometown of Coxville, Indiana. Nestled in Indiana's famous Parke County with its collection of covered bridges, the Terry's owned and operated "Tex's Longhorn Tavern". Tex and Izzy enjoyed their retirement years in Coxville and were quite a popular couple in the area.
Isabel passed this life on April 1, 2002 at age 89, and joined her husband in their final resting place on the hilltop of the Coxville Cemetery.
Jack Grinnage played "Moose" in Nicholas Ray's 1955 classic "Rebel Without a Cause.", starring James Dean, Natalie Wood and Dennis Hopper. Jack has graciously provided us with recollections and fond memories of his first Hollywood agent, Isabel Draesemer Terry. We're proud to present them to you.
"Dear Isabel.....she was my first agent and really got me started in the business. Kathy Browne, who I went to school with, said one day, "You should see my agent." I remember sitting in Isabel's outer office on Sunset Blvd and falling asleep waiting for her. She said yes, she would handle me. I don't know if she came to Los Angeles City College to see me in a play. She probably did. She covered all the plays in town. Then she sent me out on interviews. She asked, "How old are you?" I said "24." She said. " Don't tell them you are 24, say you're 21."
My first job was the recurring role of Bud's friend Claude on "Father Knows Best." That is when I had to change my name. There was a Jack Stweart, so the casting office at Screen Gems asked me other family names. I said Edwards, they said no, there was a Jack Edwards. "Grinnage", I said. They said, "That's good." I did a couple of episodes of "Father Knows Best", but they found out how old I really was...not on the show anymore!
Then, of course, came "Meet Corlis Archer", directed by Leon Benson, who would use me on any show he directed that had a young man in it. Then "Forbidden Planet" and "Rebel Without a Cause" came along. Isabel said, "You know you have a part in "Forbidden Planet" but they haven't decided on the cast for Rebel yet. They both film at the same time. Which one do you want to do?" I said, "You decide." She said, "No, you have to." So I decided to wait for Rebel.
She personally took me around to the studios and introduced me to all the casting people. I remember at Warner Bros., when I was going up to meet Nick Ray and David Weisbart, the Rebel director and producer, they told me to go upstairs and Isabel started with me. Hoyt Bowers, the casting man, said, "No Isabel, you stay here." So she was the mother hen to all her clients.
Isabel was very good to me, and then I left her. I told her my family didn't want me to be in the film industry anymore, which was true of a very wealthy aunt of mine, but it was a big lie. I just went to another agent, and never spoke to that aunt again. Of course, Isabel found out and called me one morning and said "How is my little liar?!" Wish I would have handled that better and just told her I was going to another agent.
She was very good and made the rounds to all the studios every day. She lived with her parents or mother at the time. I am totally grateful to her for my career. Without her, I would not have gotten my foot in the door. I think Jimmy Dean was even with her at one time. She got a lot of people started in the business. My friend Kathie Browne eventually married Darren McGavin. Brings back some very pleasant memories. Take care. Jack G."
Jack Grinnage as "Moose" in "Rebel Without a Cause"
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