The Independent Voice of the Afghan Hound Breed
43rd Year Of Publication
Pages FromThe Past
(How The Oakvardon Kennels Started)
(Lilian Goodman 1978, Our Afghans, July 2004 Issue)
Extended by Steve Tillotson Dec 2011, Feb 2017
The Oakvardon Kennels were owned by Mr and Mrs Jack Oakie and were first located in Haskell Drivde, Van Nuys, California. They were active in the bred from the middle of the 30's through most of the 40's. Venita Oakie was among the breeders of that era that imported Afghan Hounds, in keeping with the then theory of bringing in new bloodlines to add to those which we already had here
Update May 2013. Our valued researcher colleague Lyall Payne (Bletchley Hall Afghans, New Zealand) has kindly provided some additional info abour the Oakvardens - " Venita was born Frances Evelyn Kemper on 25 Oct 1910. She married Lewis Delaney Offield (better known as Jack Oakie) in Yuma, Arizona during a 15 minute train stop there. Venita Varden was her stage name when a Ziegfeld's Follies girl. Jack vowed to never take a leading male film role convinced that lead males came and went but that as a supporting male would have an enduring career. And he did. His mother was a pschycologist and lived at Oakvarden also. Followed by Venita's Mom Eva Kemper who kept house for Jack despite the on-again off-again relationship Jack and Venita had.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) Tuesday 19 May 1936 - On March 22, Jack Oakie finally took the matrimonial plunge he has avoided boastingly for so many years. Eloping across the desert from Hollywood to Yuma, Arizona, Jack married Vanity Varden, a young woman who once decorated the Ziegfeld Follies chorus. The marriage certificate reminded Oakie's v friends that his real name Is Lewis D. Offleld, and that he is 33 years old.
On June 17, 1948 Jack and Venita were booked on United Airlines Flight 624 departing Los Angeles and headed for New York. But studio demands on Jack for the re-filming of some scene meant he cancelled at the last minute and left Venita to board the flight (intending to attend the Saturday wedding of a niece in New York). The plane crashed into Mt Carme,l Pennsylvanis just 20 minutes short of the La Guardia runway where it should have touched down on. The circumstances were horrific in that leaking CO2 in the cockpit rendered the pilot's useless and the plane under no control, with passengers fully conscious. Back at Oakvarden, it is said that Jack and Venita's mother were inconsolable. Also rumoured was that Jack and Venita were about to re-marry."
It has been said that Barberry Hill Dolly ended her days at Grandeur kennels. Dolly was born in May 1934 and the plane crash that claimed Venita's life was on 17 June 1948. So if Dolly went to Sunny Shay's Grandeur kennel after Venita's death then Dolly was 14 years and one month old. Venita might have been living in NY for up to three years prior (as she divorced Jack in 1945) and as a couple they spent time in NY as Jack often did stage and film work there. So the well known picture of Dolly in the car with the other dogs of Sunny's might have been taken post 1945 or during one of the couple's many stays in NY. Sunny bought a daughter of Dolly's off Venita (sired by Westmill Razuran) - Sunny had a history of gathering dogs sired by English males. The bitch was Exotic Kouki of Grandeur and she bred on from her. Dolly produced a puppy called Oakvarden's Adera for Venita and her daughter Adera produced Mahdi of Grandeur (bred by William Ivens) who sold Mahdi to Sunny and from whom she bred Shirkhan of Grandeur
CH MORGIANA OF KANDAHAR was their first bitch. Although she was American-bred, she was sired by an imported dog, Ch Tufan Of Ainsdart. Morgiana was acquired from the aKandahar Kennels of Amelia E White located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When she was two years old, she was bred to Ch Garrymhor Kishwar, the imported dog ofa R.W. Sampson of Kuhsan Kennels, to produce her firt litter on 7/18/37. Morgiana's second litter on 7/2/38, was sired by Ch Badshah Of Ainsdart, again an import. On 8/3/39, the third litter of Morgiana was whelped, resulting from a union with Oakvardon's import, Ch Umberto. Now, somewhere between the first and thirt litter, in 1938, she was handled to her championship by Venita Vardon Oakie
Pedigree of MORGIANA OF KANADHAR Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents Great-Great-Grandparents Am Ch Tufan of Ainsdart Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Ku-Mari of Kaf Bm Ch Taj Mahip of Kaf Bm Khym Bm Daghai Bm Sonee Bm Ooty Bm Ch Ranee Bm Isis of Kandahar Ch Int Ch Badshah of Ainsdart Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Ku-Mari of Kaf Bm Ch Taj Mahip of Kaf Bm Sonee Bm Zahera of Prides Hill Westmill Omar Danenda of Ghazni Surkh of Ghazni Am Ch Asra of Ghazni Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Shireen of Ghazni
CH BARBERRY HILL DOLLY - was acquired from the prestige kennels of champions of the actor, Charile Ruggles. Dolly had become the first American Champion bitch in the breed in 1935. She was bred by Baynard Warren, the owner of Barberry Hill Kennels in Prides Crossing, Massachusetts.; Mrs Oakie bred Dolly to Hanuman Of Enriallic, also an import (from Ireland) which breeding produced a litter on 8/20/38. Then Dolly was bred to Ch Fatimas's Son Tufan Khan, who was out of two imports - Ch Tufan Of Ainsdart (Morgiana's sire) and Fatima. This litter, whelped 12/31/39, started an unbroken line of brindles, through Oakvarden Dera (a blue brindle) that is behind some of the brindles of Grandeur Kennels, including Ch. Shirkhan Of Grandeur and his dam Mahdi Of Grandeur. Mahdi's litter brothre Avenzoar (also a brindle) produced the brindle Ch Ivardon Salome. Dolly is buried on the Grandeur Kennels property in Long Island. Dolly was a multiple Best-In-Show bitch.
Photo below shows Venita Vardon Oakie (Oakvardon)handling Dolly to BIS at Tuscon Kennel Club Show in 1941. Dolly was the first Afghan hound to go BIS at this show .Judge on the right, Mr Sterling, All-Breed Judge. Dolly was nearly 7 years old when this photo was taken.
Photo below taken at the Tuscon (AZ) KC Show, published 18 March 1941. BIS was Ch Barberryhill Dolly.
The photo above shows the judging underway. Newspaper narrative states "Judge Brockway is looking over the sporting breed . preparatory to selecting his best sporting dog". Some notable people in this photo
DOLLY - you can see Dolly with a male handler. We have yet to identify who the handler was. Usually Phyllis Rainer, Oakvardons Kennel Manager handled Dolly. Russell Zimmerman also handled Dolly around the late 1930's before Venita debuted in the ring with Dolly at the Sahuaro State KC show, California in March 1941. The narrative in the article implies she handled Dolly at the show, but clearly it was a male handler in this photograph. I suppose it could even be Charlie Ruggles, he owned Dolly before Venita. Dolly was the first Afghan Hound to go BIS at this show.
ATHOS NILSON - is handling the Irish Setter on the left. Athos also handled Dolly's litter brother Barberryhill Charle at shows and Charlie was the first Afghan hound BIS at a California show (Los Angeles KC) in 1937
GUY SAT AT TABLE - I Dr F W Galbraith III, the chief ring steward
ENGLISH SETTER - Handled by Archie Srayer
ENGLISH SPRIGER SPANIEL - handled by Hary Sangster
POINTER - handled by John B. Hickey who, five years later in 1946, was handling Rana of Chaman Of Royal Irish for Mr Bamburger (Governor of Utah) and his wife. Rana lived with Mr Hickey in Hollywood, California in the period Mr Hickey handled him
COCKER SPANIEL - handled by the guy kneeling - noted Cocker breeder and judge C B Van Meter
Pedigree of AM CH BARBERRY HILL DOLLY Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents Great-Great-Grandparents Ch Int Ch Badshah of Ainsdart Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Ku-Mari of Kaf Bm Ch Taj Mahip of Kaf Bm Khym Bm Daghai Bm Sonee Bm Ooty Bm Ch Ranee Bm Barberry Hill Illusive Westmill Omar Danenda of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Surkh of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Am Ch Asra of Ghazni Ch Sirdar of Ghazni Parent Not Recorded Parent Not Recorded Shireen of Ghazni Malik of Ghazni Rani of Ghazni
Bea Godsel wrote in 1965 - "In one year, in the days when dogs wer not campaigned as they are today, I remember Dolly won twenty-two Hound Groups out of twenty-six Best Of Breeds. I forget the number of Best In Shows she won, but they were numerous. When she started her show career Dolly was quite reserved but she developed into a real ham in the ring. One of her favourite tricks at home would be to talk up to an eight-foot brick wall in the Oakie;s garden, get this silly monkey look on her face and with no take-off, just as if she were on springs, over she'd go. A few minutes later, back she'd come, just for the sheer joy of jumping."
Dolly produced xxxxx liters for Oakvardon, We were fortunate to find a press photo of a litter of 7 pups born on 20th June 1938 (by Hanuman Of Enriallic x Barberryhill Dolly). The photograph is dated 29th June 1938, so the puppies are only nine days old in this photo -
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