JOYCE MORTON AND HER JOURNEY IN AFGHAN HOUNDS
(By Marianne Elliston, November 2017)
1. Background and Intoduction to Joyce Morton
My husband Don and I are retired from the horse transport business, a service that took us to many places. We often hauled show horses for an Arab breeder named Tara, who is the daughter of our subject Joyce Morton. We were visiting them at their home about 5 years ago when I noticed on the wall,a portrait of an attractive woman with an Afghan. When I inquired about it, I was told that it was Joyce's mother, movie actress Lya Lys and their hound Am.Ch. El Mio Bambi of Chamee. The portrait would have been dated around 1943/44. We have since found a press photo of Lya Lys and Bambi taken at the Devon County Show, PA in May 1944.
Photo 1944 Lya Lys (Joyce's mother) with Am Ch El Mio Bambi Of Chamee
On that day Joyce, who was happy to have an eager listener to talk 'dogs'with, shared with me the interesting story of her Afghans.
Born Natalia Leycht in Berlin, Joyce's mother became a model whose stage name was Lya Lys. Thru professional connections she was able to come to New York and get into the film industry. From there she went to Hollywood. She was glad to escape the turmoil in Europe at that time. But one couldn't really escape it.
Over the course of her career Miss Lys would work with such well known performers as Edward G. Robinson, Maureen O'Sullivan, Janet Gaynor, Humphry Bogart and even the future President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. One of her films was called "Confessions of a Nazi Spy". Even though she came to the U,S to get away from it, the politics in its plot caused Lys to fear for the safety of her family in Berlin. The sad fact was, that some members of her family would actually disappear before peace came again to Europe..
In 1931, the "Statuesque blond 1930s leading lady of Hollywood films" as Lya was called, married the handsome silent film actor and "hunk" of his day, Charles Morton and in the spring of 1932 they became the parents of Joyce Morton
When I first met Joyce Morton, little did I realize that I was listening to someone who not only owned an important early Afghan Hound (Sita of
Oakvardon who was the maternal great grand-dam to AM Ch Shirkhan Of Grandeur), but that Joyce personally knew Venita Oakie (Oakvardon),
Marion Florsheim (Five Mile) and Sunny Shay (Grandeur), more on these connections later in this article.
Since this initial contact with Joyce I had largely communicated with Joyce via her daughter Tara. (Joyce rarely talked via the telephone, or wrote letters, or used
a computer). Joyce was born in 1932 and and had become ill and feeble in recent times, and sadly passed earlier this year. I am grateful to Tara with whom I
continue to enjoy correspondence and who has kindly provided additional information.
2. Joyce and Sita Of Oakvardon
Joyce explained that her mother Lya was a friend and business associate of Jack Oakie and when the Oakies moved to California her mother took her on a visit to
Venita and Jacks Oakvardon kennel where she fell in love with the Afghan hounds. In December 1937 Venita Oakie and Lya decided to give Joyce an
Afghan hound as a christmas present. Joyce was just a young girl, 5 years old at the time. The Afghan hound puppy was named Sita Of Oakvardon a
4 month old fuzzy white. The little girl was delighted and Sita and Joyce became inseparable. Joyce and her Afghan hound would play in the backyard of their Beverly
Hills home for the next three years. In fact Joyce talked about Sita with tears in her eyes. She called her the love of her life. We have been unable to find a photo of
Joyce with Sita, but below we show a photo of Joyce, aged 16, with Am Ch El Mio Bambi Of Chamee
Photo 1948 Joyce with Am Ch El Mio Bambi Of Chamee
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