JOYCE MORTON AND HER JOURNEY IN AFGHAN HOUNDS
(By Marianne Elliston, November 2017)
By 1940 Joyce's mother Lya was in an unhappy marriage to John Gunnerson, a controlling man who didn't like children. The last straw came while Lya was busy on a film and John Gunnerson sent
Joyce away to boarding school at a convent. When Joyce returned in 1941, the situation at home had really deteriorated. She was heartbroken to discover that her mother had given Sita back to Venita and was taking Joyce to New York. Lya promised Joyce that Sita would be shipped to them when they got settled but that never happened.
Joyce's mother's personal life was always quite eventful. She would have 'ups and downs' with two more husbands before her 1954 marriage to George Feit, a Los Angeles attorney, with whom she lived until her death in 1986.
Joyce and her mother lived at the Mayflower Hotel on Madison Ave across from Central Park where Joyce remembered laying on the bed listening to the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her mother was worried about her. She had gone into a deep depression when Sita didn't arrive as promised. Neither of them knew it at the time but they never would see the dog again. As time went by, Joyce began to feel that she had been tricked and ended up never forgiving either her mother or Venita..
3. Sita of Oakvardon to Am Ch Shirkhan Of Grandeur
Venita Oakie bred Sita to her imported stud dog from India - Umberto. The ensuing litter included Am. Ch. Oakvardon Charon who would become a prolific stud for Dr. William Henry Ivens Jr. (Ivardon). In particular Dr. Ivens used him on his homebred bitch Adera. That litter was whelped on 29th May 1949,and Sunny Shay (Grandeur) obtained two bitches from it (Mahdi of Grandeur and Zillah of Grandeur)..
Sunny then bred Mahdi to her Am.Ch. Blue Boy of Grandeur in 1954. From that cross came Am.Ch. Shirkhan of Grandeur who was awarded BIS at Westminster Kennel Club in Feb. 1957.
Am Ch Shirkhan Of Grandeur pedigree with Sita of Oakvardon highlighted
|Quite a story so far - a little girl gets a beautiful Afghan Hound puppy, then it's taken away from her and she never sees it again.|
Years later her pet Afghan hound is a contributor to the pedigree of one of the most famous Afghan hounds in the world
4. Joyce and Marion Florsheim (Five Mile Afghan hounds)
Coincidentally, Marion Florsheim (Five Mile Afghan hounds) also lived on Madison Ave. Even though they hadn’t
yet met, another Afghan puppy would soon become the catalyst in a life long friendship
between the movie star and the well known aviatrix. Marion and Harry Florsheim had another
residence in Darien, Connecticut where their home and kennel were situated on a sprawling estate.
It was so spacious that sometimes dog shows would be held there.
The first two AHCA sanction matches were held on the Florsheim Estate in September 1941 and
September 1942. In the photo below, Marion is second from the left, and to her right is the Judge John Hill
First AHCA Sanctioned Match, September 1941 held on the Florsheim Estate
Marion had a lot of friends in the film industry and one day Lya was invited to bring Joyce to an 'after movie' cocktail party hosted by the Florsheim's......asked when that was, Joyce told me that she didn't remember other than that she was too young to drive!
5. Joyce's second Afghan hound
Joyce described Harry as "a husky little man with glasses" and Marion, "as beautiful as her mother". She added that both were very kind to her that evening.
After learning how much Joyce loved dogs, Marion took her out to see the star of her
kennel, the great Int. Ch. Rudiki of Prides Hill. A black masked gold with a long silky
coat, the son of Ch. Badshah of Ainsdart x Ch. Shireen of Prides Hill, Rudiki had been
called “majestic” and “ sparkling”. He was so beautiful that young Joyce was falling in
love again and her depression was lifting. The girl’s enthusiasm prompted Marion to ask Lya
if her daughter could come help with the dogs. She said she could use help grooming, feeding and cleaning.
And thus it happened that Joyce Morton would start a new chapter in her life as well as a new Afghan hound.
Am Ch El Mio Bambi of Chamee
Joyce's second Afghan hound "Bambi" with Joyce in her car
There are two versions of how Joyce Morton got her new puppy - Ch.El Mio Bambi of Chamee (1943-1955)
cream male. Breeder-owner Joseph Cole Sire: Int. Ch Rudiki of Pride’s Hill Dam: Kerrin Fachamis.. One
version has Lya buying Bambi for Joyce in an attempt to make up for the loss of Sita. The other version
has Marion giving her the puppy as a reward for doing a good job at the kennel. The truth may be a
little of both. Since Marion is listed as the owner of one of Bambi’s siblings, a black masked red bitch
called El Mio Zabu of 5 Mile, she may have co-owned the litter with Mr. Cole and been
instrumental in Lya’s getting Bambi for her daughter. No one knows but it marked the
beginning of a happy time in Joyce Morton’s life.
Bambi was the litter brother of the Afghan
hound bitch featured in this newspaper photo/article
6. Joyce and Sunny Shay (Grandeur)
In a letter to me, Joyce’s daughter Tara, continues the story. She says ” While in New
York my grandmother found Sunny Shay to help my mother show the new puppy” and
Bambi won Best of Breed, finishing his championship in 1944. The newspaper article
below says Bambi was 15 mos. old. at the time.
Lya and Bambi featured in this newspaper photo/article
The notes I took listening to Joyce included the following - "I wanted to show Rudiki at Madison Square Garden but Sunny wanted to do it".
(I think, maybe Joyce mispoke and mentioned the wrong Afghan hound). We have recently found a photograph of Joyce with Minx Of Grandeur taken
at WKC in Febtuary 1952, but we dont know if she handled Minx or whether this is just a posed photo .
Joyce with Minx Of Grandeur WKC 1952
7. Joyce the model and racing cars
Joyce had loved Sita and now she was almost as devoted to her new pup. Even Lya
may have liked him, (but she always enjoyed the publicity). There was publicity when she
handled him to that win at Westport and she arranged for professional photos to be
taken of herself and the dog. As for Joyce, she simply loved Bambi with no strings attached.
Joyce, who was her mother’s ‘look alike’, was in the limelight herself. After becoming a
professional model, she would go on to marry Louis Caruso (1929-2011) of auto racing
fame. His family owned midgets, Sprint cars and Indy cars,employing the legendary
drivers Mario Andretti and Andy Granatelli. Louis himself worked as head mechanic and
crew chief on Granatelli's team. He and Joyce had three children. Just after their middle
child Mike Caruso was born in 1955 Joyce’s beloved Bambi passed away. He was much
loved and enjoyed a pampered life. He was 15 years old.
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