Trader Horn (1931) was starlet, Edwina Booth’s big break and first credited role.
As Nina Trent, the White Goddess, Booth not only had the opportunity to be the female lead in the picture but be a part of one of the first ever location shoots in Africa. Her long, natural blonde hair and inexperience made her a perfect choice for director W.S. Van Dyke who wanted a low maintenance actress. When the film was released in May 1931 it showed a radiant, youthful Booth elegantly wondering through the picture in scant jungle attire.
But in reality, the making of the film ruin Booth’s health making her sickly, gaunt and, at some parts, close to death. She contracted malaria and dysentery during the filming, almost fractured her skull after falling from a tree and suffered sunstroke. Her rough clothing made of monkey fur chaffed her skin and cuts from trees and grass made her body even more fragile. When she returned to Hollywood following the shoot, she was a changed woman. Her new husband, Anthony Shuck, annulled their union soon after and left her to the care of her family. Following the release of the film, she sued MGM for $1 million to compensate her for her illnesses. She claimed the company didn’t provide her with adequate clothing to withstand the harsh African environment. Apparently, she received a settlement of only $35,000. She was reportedly confined to bed for the next five years only completing four more films before retiring in 1935 aged only 31.