in The Rogues Tavern (1936)
December 17, 1915
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||February 22, 1989
Desert Hot Springs, California, U.S.
|Other names||Nana Martínez|
Henry Wilcoxon (1938–69; divorced); 3 children
Ray Mitchell (1971–1989; her death)
Joan Woodbury (December 17, 1915 – February 22, 1989) was an American actress beginning in the 1930s and continuing well into the 1960s.
Born Joanne Woodbury in Los Angeles, California, of an English father and Danish mother, she first studied for seven years in a convent, later trained in dance, and eventually graduated from Hollywood High School. Woodbury began dancing for the Agua Caliente dance company, and at 19 decided to attempt a career in acting.
She moved to Hollywood and that same year received her first acting role in the 1934 film Eight Girls in a Boat, which was uncredited. Another uncredited role followed, with her first credited role being in the 1934 film One Exciting Adventure, which starred Binnie Barnes. Woodbury appeared in fifteen films from 1934 through 1935, of which ten were uncredited.
In 1936, her career began to become more successful, with appearances in eight films that year, of which five were uncredited. However, of the three roles that were credited, Woodbury made an impact, and caught the attention of studios. Her mixture of Danish, British and Native American heritage gave her an exotic appearance, and allowed her to be cast in many different ethnicities, from Hispanic to French and Asian. By 1937 her career had taken off, mostly in B-movies such as Living on Love and Bulldog Courage, but also with her receiving many credited roles.
In 1937, Woodbury starred in her first of several credited Charlie Chan films, titled Charlie Chan on Broadway. She also began appearing in numerous westerns, portraying the heroine opposite some of the 1930s biggest cowboy actors, to include William Boyd of Hopalong Cassidy fame, Roy Rogers, and Johnny Mack Brown. Woodbury would appear in fifty films from 1937 to 1945, almost all of which were credited. Her most memorable of that period was her lead role in the serial Brenda Starr, Reporter, in 1945.
On December 17, 1938, Woodbury married actor and producer Henry Wilcoxon, with whom she had three daughters: Wendy Joan, Heather Ann and Cecilia Dawn "CiCi". They divorced in 1969. After the marriage, according to film critic Don Daynard, she "continued her career but never graduated from the minors", featuring in such films as Barnyard Follies, In Old Cheyenne and Brenda Starr, Reporter.
Founding of Valley Players Guild and retirement
From 1946 her career declined, more due to her desire to spend more time with her family than her not having acting offers. After her marriage to Wilcoxon ended in divorce, she married actor Ray Mitchell, with whom she founded the company Valley Players Guild in Palm Springs. The Valley Players Guild staged plays featuring other veteran actors and actresses.
In addition to managing their company, she continued to act on occasion, with her biggest role after 1946 being a minor credited part in the 1956 epic The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Anne Baxter. Her last film appearance was a supporting role in the movie The Time Travelers (1964). When Woodbury retired, she had appeared in 81 films. Woodbury eventually settled in Desert Hot Springs, California, where she was residing at the time of her death at the age of 73.
- One Exciting Adventure (1934)
- The Eagle's Brood (1935)
- Bulldog Courage (1935)
- The Fighting Coward (1935)
- The Rogues Tavern (1936)
- Song of the Gringo (1936)
- There Goes My Girl (1937)
- Super-Sleuth (1937)
- Forty Naughty Girls (1937)
- Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937)
- Living on Love (1937)
- Crashing Hollywood (1938)
- Night Spot (1938)
- Algiers (1938)
- Passport Husband (1938)
- Cipher Bureau (1938)
- Always in Trouble (1938)
- Chasing Danger (1939)
- Barnyard Follies (1940)
- Go West (1940)
- In Old Cheyenne (1941)
- Ride on Vaquero (1941)
- King of the Zombies (1941)
- Paper Bullets (1941)
- I Killed That Man (1941)
- Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941)
- Dr. Broadway (1942)
- A Yank in Libya (1942)
- Sunset Serenade (1942)
- Phantom Killer (1942)
- The Living Ghost (1942)
- You Can't Beat the Law (1943)
- The Desperadoes (1943)
- Here Comes Kelly (1943)
- The Whistler (1944)
- The Chinese Cat (1944)
- Brenda Starr, Reporter (1945)
- Ten Cents a Dance (1945)
- Northwest Trail (1945)
- The Arnelo Affair (1947)
- Yankee Fakir (1947)
- Here Comes Trouble (1948)
- The Ten Commandments (1956)
- The Time Travelers (1964)
- Daynard, Don Henry Wilcoxon in Peter Harris (ed.) The New Captain George's Whizzbang #13 (1971), pp. 4, 7
- Henry Wilcoxon and Katherine Orrison, Lionheart in Hollywood, p.351
- Daynard, Don Henry Wilcoxon in Peter Harris (ed.) The New Captain George's Whizzbang #13 (1971), pp. 2-7
- "Woodbury, Joan (1915–1989)", Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Gale. 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2013 from HighBeam Research
- Wilcoxon, Henry; Orrison, Katherine (1991). Lionheart in Hollywood: the autobiography of Henry Wilcoxon. Metuchen, NJ and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-2476-0.
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