Nona Josephine Goddard
October 19, 1930
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
|Died||July 10, 1986 (aged 55)|
Ojai, California, U.S.
|Pocahontas in "Captain John Smith and Pocahontas"|
|Spouse(s)||Robert Wolf Herre (m. 1962–1986)|
Bruce Michael Tilton (m. 1956–1961)
|Children||Victoria P. Tilton, Robert Wolf Herre, Jr., Chrissy A Herre|
Jody Lawrance (October 19, 1930 – July 10, 1986), sometimes known by the surname Lawrence, was an American actress who starred in many Hollywood films during the 1950s through the early 1960s.
She was born October 19, 1930 as Nona Josephine Goddard, or Josephine Lawrence Goddard (sources disagree) in Fort Worth, Texas to Ervin Silliman "Doc" and Eleanor Roeck Goddard. In 1935, Jody's father, Doc, married Grace Mckee (née Clara Grace Atchinson). Grace and her foster daughter, Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe) moved in with the family in Van Nuys, California and the two become stepsisters.
As a teenager, Jody attended Beverly Hills High School and The Hollywood Professional School training as an actor with Bento Schneider. In 1946, Jody performed as a swimmer in the Larry Crosby Water Show.
In 1949, she adopted the screen name Jody (short for Josephine) Lawrance (her maternal grandmother's maiden name) for her first role as Mary on The Silver Theater television show.
Her first big break came in 1949 when she was signed to a 7-year contract with Columbia Pictures, earning $250 per week. In 1951, Jody made her screen debut in Mask of the Avenger starring John Derek. The Family Secret was her second film, again starring Derek along with Lee J. Cobb, followed by Ten Tall Men co-starring Burt Lancaster, which premiered in October 1951. As the leading lady in three major movies, Jody was on her way to becoming a star.
In 1952, she won the lead role in The Son of Dr. Jekyll with Louis Hayward and The Brigand starring Anthony Dexter. In 1953, Columbia asked Jody to make a musical, All Ashore with Mickey Rooney. Unsure of her singing ability, Jody asked to be replaced by another actor who would be better suited for the role. Columbia refused, and Jody reluctantly made the movie, but the studio branded Jody as a troublemaker, and in 1953 she was released from her contract.
Wanting to continue working, Jody took the role of Pocahontas in the controversial independent film Captain John Smith and Pocahontas which was universally panned and was a box office failure due to film's low budget and depiction of violence. Jody, on a budget, dyed her own hair black and suffered a horrible allergic reaction, but persevered and delivered one of her most memorable performances. Jody changed her last name to Lawrence for this film. It is unknown if it was because of contractual obligations, or simply a spelling mistake.
In 1954, in order to make ends meet, Jody took a job as a waitress at Robb's Restaurant in the Westwood district of Los Angeles and Blum's Ice Cream and Candy Shop in Beverly Hills. During one of her shifts, she waited on Lancaster, her former co-star in Ten Tall Men. Burt exclaimed, "What is Jody Lawrance, a movie star, doing working as a waitress?" Jody explained her situation and Burt vowed to help get her back into show business. A few weeks later, true to his word, Burt introduced Jody to his friend, the director of Casablanca Michael Curtiz, who cast Jody in the film The Scarlet Hour with Carol Ohmart and Tom Tryon.
Now a blonde, Jody's career was reignited and Paramount Pictures signed her to a contract, earning $300 a week. In October, Jody was named as one of the Deb Stars of '55 along with Anita Ekberg and Kathryn Grant, and 1956 brought the release of The Leather Saint, reuniting her with John Derek and starring Cesar Romero.
In 1957, just as her career was getting back on track, Paramount suddenly released Jody from her contract. Studio executives found out that she secretly married Bruce Michael Tilton, an airplane parts company executive, in Las Vegas, Nevada and was pregnant with their first child.
Her daughter, Victoria, was born in Los Angeles on October 6, 1957.
Jody’s career and home life were at a crossroads; she still held on to the belief that she could once again resurrect her career, but Bruce wanted a wife and mother to stay home and raise their family. Unsure about what path to choose, in April, 1958 Jody travelled to Las Vegas twice to file, then changed her mind and dismissed each divorce complaint.
Both citing emotional cruelty, Bruce Tilton was granted a divorce from Jody Lawrance on March 26, 1958, and asked for custody of their daughter, Victoria, now 2 years old.
Jody continued to find work even though her personal life was in turmoil. She landed a minor role opposite Shirley MacLaine in The Hot Spell, and a leading role in an episode of the Perry Mason television series, "Case of the Perjured Parrot."
On June 3, 1960 Jody temporarily lost custody of Victoria.
Jody continued to try to find work, but the roles became increasingly smaller, and she resigned herself to bit parts in television programs like The Loretta Young Show, The Red Skelton Hour and The Rebel. Her last film, The Stagecoach to Dancer’s Rock starring Martin Landau, was released in 1962.
It was during this time that Jody met and fell in love with Robert Wolf Herre. Unlike her previous relationships, Bob was not blinded by the limelights of Hollywood. Instead he was an avid outdoorsman who appealed to Jody’s adventurous side. Playing golf, camping and going on fishing trips, were a regular part of life together for almost 25 years.
Josephine Lawrance married Robert Wolf Herre on November 1, 1962 in Las Vegas.
On May 16, 1961 Jody gave birth to her son, Robert Wolf Herre, Jr. Their daughter Abigail Christian "Chrissy" Herre was born on October 10, 1963.
As Josephine Lawrance Herre, she died at age 55 in Ojai, California on July 10, 1986. Her interment was in California.
- "Names". 1975: 236.
- Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 100.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jody Lawrance.|