Olive At The Sunshine Mission

Olive in 1946

Olive had been one Hollywood's highest paid actresses but by 1945 she was unemployed and bankrupt. She also had a serious drinking problem. After being honorably discharged from the Army in 1942 Olive worked several odd jobs. She said she was unable to keep them because "something always goes wrong". Since Olive could no longer afford a place to live she moved into the Sunshine Mission, a home for destitute women in the "skid row" section Los Angeles. Her mother Sibbie had worked in the mission's commissary for several years. The Sunshine Mission had been founded in 1941 by Sister Essie Binkley West. Olive spent her days scrubbing floors, answering the phone, and taking care of the children who lived there. On Thanksgiving she served Turkey dinner to the homeless people in the neighborhood.

Olive at the mission                                                                     Olive & her mother Sibbie in 1928

Her final acting performance was in the mission's 1946 Christmas pageant. Olive claimed that while living at the mission she had become a born again Christian. She told a reporter "I have found the one thing Hollywood couldn't give me - happiness." Her mother Sibbie said that Olive got restless and missed being an actress. In the Spring of 1947 Olive became very depressed and ran away the mission. Sibbie found her several months later living in a run down motel. Olive returned to the Sunshine Mission but she was suffering from pneumonia. She passed away just a few weeks later at the young age of forty-one. At her funeral Sister Essie Binkley West said "She played her greatest role when she became a star for Jesus".


Sister Essie Binkley West at The Sunshine Mission