Anne Gwynne
"A Universal Treasure"

  Versatile Movie Star with over 55 films in such various genre as Westerns, Musicals, Dramas, Comedies, Sci-Fi and Horror, Pinup queen of WWII, Television Pioneer, and a caring devoted friend to millions of admiring fans and one of the recognizable faces of WWII. With a lead like that, we could only be describing Anne Gwynne.
  Marguerite Gwynne Trice was born December 10, 1918, in Waco, Texas. While a teenager, her family moved to Missouri where she later attended Stephens College in Columbia. It was there, under the tutorage of Maude Adams that her interest in acting began to bloom. In 1939, the former "Miss San Antonio, accompanied her father, a wealthy clothing manufacturer, on a business trip to Los Angeles and, through his connections with the company, acquired a job modeling for Catalina Swimwear. She also began appearing in local theater productions. Her talent and stunning beauty quickly brought her to the attention of Universal executives. Over the next five years, she would be featured in some thirty-eight Universal films, and become one of the studio's most recognizable stars. So striking was Gwynne's visual appeal, a screen test was not required before she signed her contract with the studio.
  Following her debut in "Unexpected Father" with Baby Sandy, Anne was to make her mark very quickly as one the studio's most versatile actresses. She costarred with Johnny Mack Brown and sidekick Fuzzy Knight in the Westerns, "Oklahoma Frontier" in 1939 and "Bad Man from Red Butte" in early 1940. The 1940 musical comedy "Spring Parade" found Gwynne featured as the second female lead.

The evil Lady Sonja in "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe"

Gwynne would become the studio's number two "lady in distress" in the 1940's, second only to Evelyn Ankers. She appeared as the evil Lady Sonja in the science fiction serial "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" in 1940. Gwynne's first foray into the realm of horror films came later that same year in the classic "Black Friday," with Boris Karloff, Stanley Ridges, Bela Lugosi and Anne Nagel. In 1941, Gwynne's talent was put to good use in the horror-comedy "The Black Cat." She held the female lead in a cast that included Broderick Crawford, Basil Rathbone, Hugh Herbert, Gale Sondergaard, Gladys Cooper and Bela Lugosi. The next year would find her appearing with Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Samuel S. Hinds and Mantan Moreland in "The Strange Case of Doctor Rx," In 1944, following her brief hiatus from the horror films, Gwynne was cast in three of the studio's thrillers. She was top billed in the B mystery, "Murder in the Blue Room," a remake of the 1933 classic "Secret of the Blue Room" "Weird Woman," also released in 1944, featured Gwynne, Lon Chaney, Jr., Evelyn Ankers and Lois Collier in what was to be the second of the studio's popular Inner Sanctum mysteries.

Not that Anne wasn't busy in between Horror films, she was one of the busiest actresses at Universal always involved in some project such as "Nice Girl?" followed in 1941, or the 1941 for the Abbott and Costello comedy classic, "Ride 'Em Cowboy." A flurry of westerns including the 1941 western, "Road Agent," the 1942, "Men of Texas," and "Sin Town." In 1943, she appeared in another class "A" western, "Frontier Badman," which also featured Lon Chaney, Jr. as the villain. Her more dramatic roles included the patriotic offerings, "We've Never Been Licked" in 1943 and "Ladies Courageous" with Evelyne Ankers, Lois Collier and Loretta Young in 1944. The war years at Universal found Gwynne at her peak. Anne Gwynne was also one of the most photographed women during World War II. Billed as the TNT girl (trim, neat, terrific), she became a popular pin up, and voted "The Girl We Would Most Like to Corral" by a regiment of the U.S. Calvary. Ms Gwynne was selected a YANK MAGAZINE Pin-up girl five times. The pin-up girls were rated by the amount of mail received from GIs requesting autographed pin-up photographs. The Top Five in 1943 (in no particular order) were Dorothy Lamour, Ann Sheridan, Maureen O'Hara, Anne Gwynne and Alexis Smith. Gwynne was indeed kept busy during this period. Besides her feature and publicity work at Universal, she toured military bases with the "Hollywood On Parade" shows, along with other stars such as John Garfield. She also appeared in a national print ad campaign, giving her endorsement to Royal Crown Cola.


The Strange Case of Dr X

Just because her tenure at Universal was over didn't mean that Gwynne was through with horror films. She found herself in peril at the hands of Boris Karloff yet again in RKO's 1947 release "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome." That same year she appeared with James Ellison and Edward Everett Horton in Republic's supernatural comedy "The Ghost Goes Wild."
  In 1957, Gwynne worked on the Howco International production of "Teenage Monster." In addition to the fantasy film credits, Gwynne carried on her work in the western genre after leaving Universal. In 1948, she costarred alongside Rod Cameron in "Panhandle." In 1950, Gwynne appeared in Columbia's "The Blazing Sun" with Gene Autry and Pat Buttram. That same year, she co-starred with her former leading man Kirby Grant in "Call of the Klondike," a Monogram offering based on a story by James Oliver Curwood. Grant had appeared with Gwynne in the musical "Babes on Swing Street" at Universal in 1944. Her last western film was "King of the Bullwhip," which starred an icon of the 1950's, Lash LaRue. Many performers were attracted to the lure of television during this period, and Gwynne was no different. She did guest appearances on such hit shows as "Death Valley Days" and "Northwest Passage" in the late 1950's. However, she also holds the distinction of starring in what is perhaps the first series produced strictly for the new medium. In 1947-48, she filmed 26 episodes of "Public Prosecutor" for NBC. John Howard and Walter Sande were also featured in this television first.

Apart from her film life, Gwynne and husband Max Gilford busily raised their two children. Widowed in 1965, Anne Gwynne resurfaced in the late '60's for some commercial work, and appeared as Michael Douglas' mother in one of his early features, "Adam at 6 a.m." in 1970. Health problems in the early 1990's ultimately forced a move to the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, California.

Anne Gwynne always appreciated her fans, and continued to go to collector shows, meeting and greeting fans, signing pictures, and having her picture taken with fans, up until the last year of her life. Anne Gwynne, "a Universal Treasure" passed away on March 31, 2003. She was 84.

 


The Ultimate Anne Gwynne

Glamour Shot

Anne in "Weird Woman"

Pinup Queen

House of Frankenstein

WW II Yank Magazine Cover

With Lon Chaney in "Weird Woman"