Gloria Winters

Active - 1950 - 2001  |   Born - Nov 28, 1931   |   Died - Aug 14, 2010   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Gloria Winters was best known as a pert, diminutive ingenue in movies and, especially, television during the 1950s. Born in Los Angeles in 1932, Winters started her career as a child actress, and by her early teens getting small roles in Hollywood movies, including the MGM musical Luxury Liner (1948). Her first major break came in 1949 when she won the role of Babs, the daughter in the first television version of The Life of Riley, starring Jackie Gleason, which ran for one season. Winters managed to get bigger roles in feature films around this time, including a co-starring part in the Monogram drama Hot Rod (1950), but it was television, coupled with the fact that she always looked far younger than her actual age, that turned Winters into a star. In 1951, she won the role of Penny King, the niece of the title character in the TV series Sky King. Her youthful appearance allowed Winters to play the part of the young teenager from ages 18 through age 24, until the series ended production in 1958. Winters was immortalized for a generation of television viewers as the pretty, impetuous Penny, who could fly airplanes but sometimes let her curiosity and daring nature get her into trouble. Winters also appeared in several films -- including one Bowery Boys feature -- in the 1950s, and did guest spots and small roles in other series, especially Westerns. She married the sound engineer from Sky King and retired from acting after the series ended production in 1958. In 2002, at age 73, she was awarded the Golden Boot, an honor accorded actors and actresses who have made a significant contribution to Westerns. Her portrayal of Penny King remains one of the most widely and fondly remembered girl characters of any 1950s television series.

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