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Robert Archer, aka Tanis Chandler

(left) Robert Archer in The Desert Song
(right) Tanis Chandler
Tanis Chandler was a 20-year-old woman working as a teletypist in a Hollywood brokerage office, but dreaming of becoming a movie star. However, she was having trouble getting any roles, so she decided to try another strategy. There was a shortage of male actors in 1943 because of the war, so Tanis figured she might have better luck if she were a man. She put on a pair of pants and presented herself at a casting office as "Robert Archer." The casting office, believing she was a man, gave her a part as a sheik in a Warner Brothers movie, The Desert Song. Luckily for her, the part required her to wear long flowing robes that covered her curves.

She did so well that Robert Archer was cast in a second movie, My Reputation directed by Curtis Bernhardt. But in one scene she was required to mow a lawn. Since it was a sunny day, the director told "Robert" that he should remove his shirt. Robert balked at doing this. "Okay, okay, I'm a girl," she admitted.

Tanis's deception was widely reported. The media were quick to point out that, despite having posed as a man, she was "slim and indubitably feminine."

Tanis Chandler, as a woman, went on to act in a number of other movies.

Links and References
  • "Leading Man Girl." (Jan 26, 1944). The Lowell Sun.
  • Tanis Chandler, Internet Movie Database.
MoviesHoaxes of the 1940sGender Fakers

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.