I have painted a tribute image of actress Adrian Booth as part of the Artprize event. Mrs. Adrian Booth Brian was born Virginia Pound in Grand Rapids in 1917. The image, an approximately 16 ft. high painting on wood panels was mounted outside “the B.O.B.” nightclub on Fuller at Monroe. It is visible from the street and the sidewalk. It portrays one of her most well known characters, Vultura, from the ” Perils of Nyoka” I940’s serial movie.
Special thanks to Adrian Booth Brian herself who supplied stills and enthusiasm for the project. Also special Thanks should go to John Douglas, a former film critic from the Grand Rapids Press, who contributed the historical written information at the bottom of the painting. And further-more thanks to Tommy Hildreth, Eric Stedman, Chuck Anderson, John Beifuss, and Ray Nielsen who supplied stills or contact information that were extremely helpful.
The idea came about as a site-specific Artprize entry. The concept was to use a historical or celebrity figure from The Grand Rapids region to give local viewers a strong connection with the artwork, as well as to serve an educational purpose about local cultural history. The eventual goal is to use this as a starter artwork to create a series of paintings of historical figures placed throughout Grand Rapids ( or other towns ) to create a kind of art and history walk.
The Character portrayed in the painting is the evil Vultura in Adrian Booth’s most famous Republic serial, “Perils of Nyoka,” which starred Kay Aldridge as a sort of female Indiana Jones. The male lead was the future Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore.
Still alive, and now living in California, Adrian Booth had a busy career in the 30’s and 40’s and occasionally thereafter. Before that she was a “Miss Grand Rapids” and a “Miss Michigan” and later a stage performer. Born as Virginia Pound in Grand Rapids, MI, she was “discovered” by a Columbia Pictures agent. She was given a screen test, and Columbia was impressed enough to sign her. She started performing as “Lorna Gray”, a name she kept until 1945, when she changed it to “Adrian Booth”. She worked mainly in the studio’s B unit, and sometimes worked with Republic or Monogram studios. She also occasionally worked with the “Three Stooges”, Buster Keaton and W.C. Fields in comedy shorts . Once she left Columbia, she worked mostly with Republic Pictures after 1941, appearing in westerns ( working with cowboy stars like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, the Durango Kid and Wild Bill Elliott), thrillers, horror movies, and in the serials in which the studio was best known for. She married actor David Brian in 1948, and after making films for a few more years, retired from the screen in 1951. She presently engages in philanthropy.