Helen Walker

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Helen Walker
Helen Walker in Impact (publicity still).jpg
Walker in 1949
Born (1920-07-17)July 17, 1920
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died March 10, 1968(1968-03-10) (aged 47)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death cancer
Resting place Oak Hill Cemetery, Sterling, Massachusetts
Years active 1942–1960
Spouse(s) Edward DuDomaine (1950-1952) (divorced)
Robert Blumofe (1942-1946) (divorced)
Charles Coburn and Helen Walker in Impact (1949)

Helen Walker (July 17, 1920 – March 10, 1968) was an American film actress of the 1940s and 1950s.[1]


Walker was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and made her film debut in 1942. She earned a solid reputation playing leading roles in comedies - a "reactress" to comic leads, as she described it.[2]

Walker's film debut came in 1942's Lucky Jordan, a comedy about a gangster (Alan Ladd) who ends up drafted in the Army, where Walker's character reports him AWOL. In the farce Brewster's Millions, her sweetheart inherits $8 million, but can't keep it unless he can spend a million of it within a specified time. Walker also played the romantic interest of Fred MacMurray in the popular comedy Murder, He Says in 1945.

After a promising start in Hollywood, Walker was involved in a 1946 car wreck. A hitchhiker was killed, and Helen and two others were seriously injured. She was charged with drunk and reckless driving. She was subsequently acquitted and made a comeback, but her career never fully recovered. Her final big-screen appearance was in Joseph H. Lewis's film noir The Big Combo in 1955. She retired from acting at the age of 35 and died in North Hollywood, California from cancer at the age of 47.[3][4]

Auto accident[edit]

She had just finished making what would become her most well-known film, 1947's Nightmare Alley, and was filming Heaven Only Knows[1] when an auto accident drastically disrupted Walker's career.

On December 31, 1946, while driving the car of director Bruce "Lucky" Humberstone from Palm Springs to Hollywood, she gave a ride to three hitchhiking soldiers named Robert E. Lee, Philip Mercado, and Joseph Montaldo. Near Redlands, California, the car hit a divider and flipped over, killing Lee and causing serious injuries to Walker and the other two passengers. She was charged with drunk driving and reckless driving, and Mercado brought a civil suit for $150,000 against her.[5]

Her criminal trial for manslaughter ended with a dismissal on the motion of San Bernardino County District Attorney Jerome B. Kavanaugh.[6]

Personal life[edit]

According to Yvonne de Carlo, Walker "the good natured but tough talking starlet"... took Gail Russell "under her wing and introduced her to the tranquilizing benefits of vodka" when they were Paramount contractees together.[7] Russell subsequently became an alcoholic.

She was married to Paramount studio lawyer Robert Blumofe (1942, divorced 1946), and department store executive Edward DuDomaine (1950, divorced 1952).[1] When her house burned in 1960, other actresses held a benefit to assist her.[1]




  1. ^ a b c d Obituary Variety, March 13, 1968, page 79.
  2. ^ Helen Walker Clings to Ideals: Recruit From Stage Confidently Waits for 'Grown-up' Parts Stage Recruit Holds Fast to Her Ideals Helen Walker Sure She'll Be Assigned 'Grown-up' Parts Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Nov 1945: B1.
  3. ^ FILM ACTRESS HELEN WALKER DIES OF CANCER Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 12 Mar 1968: b6.
  4. ^ Helen Walker, 47, Dies on Coast; Fdm Actress in '40's and '50's New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Mar 1968: 43.
  5. ^ "Hitchhiker Seeks Damages From Helen Walker" Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1947.
  6. ^ "Helen Walker Cleared in Hitchhiker's Death" Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1947.
  7. ^ De Carlo, Yvonne; Warren, Doug (1987). Yvonne : an autobiography. St Martins Press. p. 72. 

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