Audrey Totter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Audrey Totter
Audrey Totter in The Postman Always Rings Twice trailer.jpg
in the trailer for The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Born Audrey Mary Totter
(1917-12-20)December 20, 1917
Joliet, Illinois, U.S.
Died December 12, 2013(2013-12-12) (aged 95)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death Stroke
Occupation Actress
Spouse(s) Leo Fred (m. 1953–95) (his death); 1 child
Children Mea Lane[1]

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[2][3][4] 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. She had two brothers, Folger and George, and a sister, Collette.[5]

Early years[edit]

A native of Joliet, Illinois, Totter graduated from Joliet High School, where she "acted in a number of school dramas."[5]


Totter began her acting career in radio in Chicago in the late 1930s. She played in soap operas, including Painted Dreams, Road of Life, Ma Perkins, and Bright Horizons.[5]


Following success in Chicago and New York, Totter 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.[6]

Among her successes were:

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.[citation needed]

In 1954, she appeared in the pilot episode of the later 1957-1958 detective series, Meet McGraw with Frank Lovejoy.[7] 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.[8]

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.

Personal life[edit]

Totter was married to Dr. Leo Fred,[9] assistant dean of the UCLA School of Medicine from 1953 to his death in 1995; they had one child. Their granddaughter, Eden Totter, is a voice artist.[citation needed]


Totter died of a stroke on December 12, 2013, eight days before her 96th birthday.[2] Upon her death, her remains were donated to science at the UCLA Medical School.[10]


Totter was quoted in August 1999, "The bad girls were so much fun to play. I wouldn't have wanted to play Coleen's good-girl parts."[11]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Notice of death of Audrey Totter, L.A. Times, December 14, 2013.
  3. ^ Most references cite 1918 as her year of birth but Intelius indicates the year was 1917, as do'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
  4. ^
    Year: 1920
    Census Place: Joliet Ward 1, Will, Illinois
    Roll: T625_416
    Page: 2A
    Enumeration District: 185
    Image: 109 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]
    Provo, UT, USA: 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)
  5. ^ a b c Zylstra, Freida (March 20, 1950). "Joliet's Audrey Totter Climbs to Movie Stardom". Illinois, Chicago. Chicago Tribune. p. Part 2 - Page 5. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  6. ^ Schudel, Matt (December 15, 2013) "Actress was known as film noir femme fatale" The Washington Post, page C8. Retrieved December 16, 2013 [1]
  7. ^ "’’Meet McGraw’’". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  8. ^ "The Empty Gun: Cheyenne". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  9. ^ "'Women Of Today Are Fools!'". Ohio, Dover. The Daily Reporter. August 1, 1959. p. 13. Retrieved December 11, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  10. ^
  11. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]