(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.