in the trailer for The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
|Born||Audrey Mary Totter
December 20, 1917
Joliet, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 12, 2013
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Stroke|
|Spouse(s)||Leo Fred (m. 1953–95) (his death); 1 child|
Audrey Mary Totter (December 20, 1917 – December 12, 2013) was an American actress and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player.
Audrey (some sources indicate "Audra") Mary Totter was born in 1917 and raised in Joliet, Illinois. Her parents were John (born in Slovenia with birth name Janez) and Ida Mae Totter. Her father was of Austro-Slovenian descent and her mother was Swedish American.
Totter began her acting career in radio in the late 1930s, and, following success in Chicago and New York, was signed to a seven-year film contract with MGM. She made her film debut in Main Street After Dark (1945) and established herself as a popular female lead in the 1940s. Although she appeared in various film genres, she became most widely known to movie audiences in film noir productions.
Among her successes were:
- The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) with John Garfield and Lana Turner
- Lady in the Lake (1947) with Robert Montgomery and Jayne Meadows
- The Unsuspected (1947 for Warner Bros.) with Claude Rains
- High Wall (1947) with Robert Taylor
- The Saxon Charm (1948) with Montgomery and Susan Hayward
- Alias Nick Beal (1949) with Ray Milland
- The Set-Up (1949) with Robert Ryan
- Any Number Can Play (1949) with Clark Gable and Alexis Smith
- Tension (1950) with Richard Basehart
By the early 1950s, the tough-talking "dames" she was best known for portraying were no longer fashionable, and as MGM began to work towards creating more family-themed films, Totter was released from her contract. She reportedly was dissatisfied with her MGM career and agreed to appear in Any Number Can Play only after Clark Gable intervened. She worked for Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox, for example, FBI Girl (1951), but the quality of her films dropped, and by the end of the 1950s, her career was in decline.
In 1954, she appeared in the pilot episode of the later 1957-1958 detective series, Meet McGraw with Frank Lovejoy. She appeared with Joseph Cotten and William Hopper in the 1957 episode "The Case of the Jealous Bomber" of NBC's anthology series, The Joseph Cotten Show. In 1957, she was cast as a woman doctor, Louise Kendall, in the episode "Strange Quarantine" of the NBC western series, The Californians.
In 1958, Totter was cast as Martha Fullerton, the widow of a man killed by the gunfighter Matt Reardon (John Russell) in the episode "The Empty Gun" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Cheyenne, with Clint Walker in the title role. In the story line, Reardon is befriended by Cheyenne Bodie as Reardon tries to make amends to Martha, the woman he once loved. Standing between them is her vengeful son, Mike (Sean Garrison), who calls out Reardon for a final gunfight with a tragic ending. Tod Griffin plays Sheriff Frank Day.
Later in 1958, Totter played boarding house owner Beth Purcell in another NBC western series, Cimarron City. The episodes were supposed to have rotated among star George Montgomery as the mayor, John Smith as blacksmith/deputy sheriff Lane Temple, and Totter, but when the writers failed to feature her character, she left the series. From 1962–1963, she starred as homemaker Alice MacRoberts in the ABC situation comedy Our Man Higgins, with Stanley Holloway, Frank Maxwell, and Ricky Kelman. In 1964, she made a guest appearance on CBS's Perry Mason as defendant Reba Burgess in the title role of "The Case of the Reckless Rockhound."
Totter played a continuing role from 1972 to 1976, that of Nurse Wilcox, the efficient head nurse, in the CBS television series Medical Center, with James Daly and Chad Everett. Her last acting role was in a 1987 episode of CBS's Murder, She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury.
- Main Street After Dark (1945)
- Dangerous Partners (1945)
- Bewitched (1945) (uncredited voice) as Karen
- The Sailor Takes a Wife (1945)
- The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) as Madge Gorland
- The Cockeyed Miracle (1946) as Jennifer Griggs
- Lady in the Lake (1947) as Adrienne Fromsett
- The Beginning or the End (1947) as Jean O'Leary
- The Unsuspected (1947) as Althea Keane
- High Wall (1947) as Dr. Ann Lorrison
- The Saxon Charm (1948) as Alma
- Alias Nick Beal (1949) as Donna Allen
- The Set-Up (1949) as Julie Thompson
- Any Number Can Play (1949) as Alice Elcott
- Tension (1950) as Mrs. Claire Quimby
- Under the Gun (1951) as Ruth
- The Blue Veil (1951) as Helen Williams
- FBI Girl (1951) as Shirley Wayne
- The Sellout (1952) as Cleo Bethel
- Assignment – Paris! (1952)
- My Pal Gus (1952) as Joyce
- Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)
- Man in the Dark (1953) as Peg Benedict
- Cruisin' Down the River (1953) as Sally Jane
- Mission Over Korea (1953)
- Massacre Canyon (1954) as Flaxy
- Women's Prison (1955) as Joan Burton
- A Bullet for Joey (1955) as Joyce Geary
- The Vanishing American (1955) as Marion Warner
- Jet Attack (1958)
- The Carpetbaggers (1964) as Prostitute
- Harlow (1965) as Marilyn
- Chubasco (1968) as Theresa
- Medical Center (1969–76) (TV series) as Eve Wilcox
- The Nativity (1978) (TV) as Elizabeth
- The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979) as Martha Osten
- Notice of death of Audrey Totter, L.A. Times, December 14, 2013.
- Most references cite 1918 as her year of birth but Intelius indicates the year was 1917, as do Ancestry.com's United States census records, which give her age in April 1930 as 12 years old, and in January 1920 (see below) as 2 years old
Census Place: Joliet Ward 1, Will, Illinois
Enumeration District: 185
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29
National Archives, Washington, D.C.
For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City)
- Schudel, Matt (December 15, 2013) "Actress was known as film noir femme fatale" The Washington Post, page C8. Retrieved December 16, 2013 
- "’’Meet McGraw’’". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
- "The Empty Gun: Cheyenne". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
- Bernard Weinraub (August 23, 1999). "They're Gorgeous, Mysterious and Ready to Make a Sap Out of You". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Audrey Totter.|
- Audrey Totter at the Internet Movie Database
- Audrey Totter at Find a Grave
- "Audrey Totter". GeoCities. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27.