Mary Lee (actress)
|Born||Mary Lee Wooters
October 24, 1924
Centralia, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||June 6, 1996
Sacramento, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Harry J. Banan (1945-1990)|
Mary Lee (born October 24, 1924, Centralia, Illinois – died June 6, 1996, Sacramento, California) was a B-movie actress and singer from the late 1930s well into the 1940s, starring mostly in westerns.
Born Mary Lee Wooters, she maintained a youthful look well into her thirties. She sang with the Ted Weems Orchestra in the late 1930s, coming to the attention of Republic Pictures. In 1942 she recorded 8 tracks in 2 sessions with Bob Crosby's Bob Cats, reissued on a Swaggie CD (CD504) in Australia.
Her first screen appearance was with Warner Bros., in Nancy Drew... Reporter (1939); she portrayed Mary Nickerson, the younger sister of Nancy Drew's (Bonita Granville) boyfriend, Ted Nickerson (Frank Thomas Jr.). The film utilized Lee's vocal talents in the song "Nursery Rhyme Melody". Lee accepted a job at Republic Pictures, where she starred alongside Gene Autry in South of the Border. Republic signed her to a five-year contract in 1940. She would star in another six films with Autry and leading lady June Storey, with Lee playing Storey's character's younger sister "Patsy," and by herself as the same character in three subsequent Autrey films
World War II
When Gene Autry left acting for a time to serve during World War II, Lee made a few appearances in the films of Roy Rogers. Republic soon billed her as "America's Little Sister", and starred her in B musicals like Shantytown and Nobody's Darling. She retired from pictures in 1945.
Around that same time she married Harry J. Banan, Master Sergeant, United States Army, returning from World War II, to whom she would remain married until his death in 1990. Mary Lee died in Sacramento, California on June 6, 1996, aged 71, and is interred alongside her husband at Sacramento's East Lawn Sierra Hills Cemetery.
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