Joan Leslie

Active - 1936 - 2014  |   Born - Jan 26, 1925   |   Died - Oct 12, 2015   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Musical, Western

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Biography by Hal Erickson

A stage actress from the age of 3, Joan Leslie toured vaudeville in a singing act with her two sisters. At ten, Leslie was an established advertising model. She came to Hollywood in 1936, making her screen debut in Camille under her given name of Brodel. In 1940 she was signed by Warner Bros., who changed her professional name to Leslie. Though not yet 18, Leslie was cast in such meaty and demanding roles as the selfish clubfooted ingenue in High Sierra (1941) and Mrs. George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Loaned out to RKO in 1942, Leslie was given an opportunity to display her considerable terpsichorean skills in the Fred Astaire vehicle The Sky's the Limit. In Warners' Hollywood Canteen (1944) Leslie played herself, as did her real-life sister Betty Brodel. When her Warners contract ended in 1947, Leslie free-lanced for several years, turning in admirable performances in such second-echelon productions as Repeat Performance (1947) and The Woman They Almost Lynched (1956). She more or less retired from film acting in the late 1950s, devoting herself to humanitarian work and to her new career as a dress designer, though she occasionally took on a TV role. Fans of Joan Leslie all felt just a little older when Leslie was teamed with fellow 1940s ingenue Teresa Wright as a pair of doddering Arsenic and Old Lace-type sisters on a late-1980s episode of TV's Murder She Wrote. Leslie died in 2015, at age 90.

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