Joan Woodbury (December 17, 1915 – February 22, 1989) was an American actress beginning in the 1930s and continuing well into the 1960s.
Early life, entrance into acting
Born Joanne Woodbury in Los Angeles, California, she first studied for seven years in a convent, later trained in dance, and eventually graduated from Hollywood High School. Woodbury began dancing for the Agua Caliente dance company, and at 19 decided to attempt a career in acting. She moved to Hollywood and that same year received her first acting role in the 1934 film Eight Girls in a Boat, which was uncredited. Another uncredited role followed, with her first credited role being in the 1934 film One Exciting Adventure, which starred Binnie Barnes. Woodbury appeared in fifteen films from 1934 through 1935, of which ten were uncredited.
In 1936, her career began to become more successful, with appearances in eight films that year, of which five were uncredited. However, of the three roles that were credited, Woodbury made an impact, and caught the attention of studios. Her mixture of Danish, British and Native American heritage gave her an exotic appearance, and allowed her to be cast in many different ethnicities, from Hispanic to French and Asian. By 1937 her career had taken off, mostly in B-movies such as Living on Love and Bulldog Courage, but also with her receiving many credited roles.
In 1937, Woodbury starred in her first of several credited Charlie Chan films, titled Charlie Chan on Broadway. She also began appearing in numerous westerns, portraying the heroine opposite some of the 1930s biggest cowboy actors, to include William Boyd of Hopalong Cassidy fame, Roy Rogers, and Johnny Mack Brown. Woodbury would appear in fifty films from 1937 to 1945, almost all of which were credited. Her most memorable of that period was her lead role in the serial Brenda Starr, Reporter, in 1945.
On December 17, 1938, Woodbury married actor and producer Henry Wilcoxon, with whom she would have three daughters: Wendy Joan, Heather Ann and Cecilia Dawn.
Founding of Valley Players Guild and retirement
From 1946 her career declined, more due to her desire to spend more time with her family than her not having acting offers. After her marriage to Wilcoxon ended in divorce, she married actor Ray Mitchell, with whom she founded the company Valley Players Guild in Palm Springs. The Valley Players Guild staged plays featuring other veteran actors and actresses. In addition to managing their company, she continued to act on occasion, with her biggest role after 1946 being a minor credited part in the 1956 epic The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Anne Baxter. Her last film appearance was a supporting role in the movie The Time Travelers (1964). When Woodbury retired, she had appeared in 81 films. Woodbury eventually settled in Desert Hot Springs, California, where she was residing at the time of her death at the age of 73.
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