Anne Gwynne, leading lady in scores of sci-fi and horror films including the 1940 serial ''Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe'' and ''Black Friday'' with Boris Karloff, has died. She was 84.
Gwynne died March 31 of a stroke following surgery at the
Motion Picture Country Hospital in Woodland Hills, her family
Born Marguerite Gwynne Trice in Waco, Texas, she studied
drama at Stephens College in Missouri and moved to Los Angeles with her
family. Her father was a wealthy apparel manufacturer, and the former Miss
San Antonio first gained attention as a model for Catalina
Billed as Anne Gwynne, she began acting in small
theaters and was spotted by a talent scout who invited her to stop by
Universal Studios. She was signed to a contract in 1939.
churning out B pictures as leading lady to such Western stars as Johnny
Mack Brown and moved on to the space serial with Buster Crabbe as Flash
Gordon, alternately titled "Perils From the Planet Mongo" and "Purple
Death From Outer Space."
But Gwynne did her most memorable work in
horror films, working with Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi and Lon
Chaney Jr. Among those 1940s scream-fests, in addition to "Black Friday,"
were "The Black Cat," "House of Frankenstein," "The Strange Case of Doctor
Rx," "Weird Woman," "Murder in the Blue Room" and the 1947 movie "Dick
Tracy Meets Gruesome."
"To fans of the Universal horror films of
the 1940s, Anne was one of the best and most popular leading ladies," said
Tom Weaver, an author and expert on the horror genre. "Unlike the exotic
1930s horror heroines who generally were, or at least acted English or
European or 'mid-Atlantic' at best, Anne was the spunky, bubbly, very
American girl-next-door type -- the stuff of instant crushes for these
movies' mostly male audiences."
Among Gwynne's favorite films were
"The Black Cat" and two Westerns, "Ride 'Em Cowboy" with Abbott and
Costello in 1942 and "Men of Texas" with Robert Stack and Broderick
Crawford the same year.
Working constantly in the years of World
War II, Gwynne became a favorite pinup. She reduced her workload in 1945
when she married Hollywood attorney Max M. Gilford. He died in
The actress also worked in television, including the 1951-52
series "Public Prosecutor." She continued to appear in TV guest spots and
commercials, and made her final motion picture in 1970, cast as Michael
Douglas' mother in "Adam at 6 A.M."
Gwynne had been in ill health
since her first stroke about 10 years ago.
She is survived by her
daughter, Gwynne Pine of Los Angeles; son, Gregory Gilford of New York
City; and grandchildren Katie Pine and Christopher Pine.
Services are private. The family has
asked that any memorial donations be made in her name to the Motion Picture and