Madge Meredith (July 15, 1921 – September 16, 2017) was an American film actress. She was best known, however, for being wrongfully convicted for kidnapping.
Meredith was born Marjorie May Massow in Iowa Falls, Iowa, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F.A. Massow. Her father was a construction superintendent, and she was the middle child of five. As a youth, she overcame a stammer while focusing on dramatics in high school. Her accomplishments there led to her receiving a tuition-only scholarship to the Rice School of the Theater in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Her family's funds were limited, so she worked at the school to pay for her room and board.
In 1941, Meredith and her family moved to Culver City, California, in hopes of her finding work in films. In June 1943, a friend helped her obtain a job in a coffee shop at 20th Century Fox studios.
Actress Jennifer Jones noticed Meredith at the coffee shop's cashier desk late in the summer of 1943 and asked, "Wouldn't you like to make a screen test?" The test was successful—except for a slight problem with Meredith's nose. Following plastic surgery, she had a film contract with 20th Century Fox. Her first film appearance was in a bit part in Without Reservations. She next had the female lead in Take It or Leave It (1944).
She changed her name to Madge Meredith in 1945.
In 1946, after making a few uncredited appearances in films, Meredith signed a contract with RKO Pictures. She soon had roles in Child of Divorce (1946), The Falcon's Adventure (1946), and Trail Street (1947).
Following her conviction and imprisonment related to a kidnapping case, Meredith resumed her career, primarily in supporting roles. Her later films included Tumbleweed (1953), To Hell and Back (1955), The Guns of Fort Petticoat (1957), and The Ten Commandments (1956). She also appeared on television in episodes of Racket Squad, Fireside Theatre, and Cowboy G-Men.
On July 2, 1947, a warrant was issued for Meredith's arrest, charging her with being responsible for the kidnapping and beating by three men of Nick Gianaclis, Meredith's business manager, and Verne Davis, his bodyguard. Meredith denied being involved in the kidnapping and said that Gianaclis was trying to get even with her after she sued him regarding his actions in the purchase of a house—a lawsuit that was decided in her favor. She added that he became angry with her when she resisted his efforts toward a more personal relationship between the two.
On December 12, 1947, the jury in a four-week trial found Meredith and two co-defendants guilty of five felony charges. Meredith still proclaimed her innocence, but her attorney's motion for a new trial was denied. Her conviction was upheld by both the District Court of Appeal and the State Supreme Court. On May 9, 1949, she entered the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, California, to begin serving her sentence.
In March 1951, the California Adult Authority's parole board recommended that Meredith be released from prison after it decided that she had been unjustly convicted. Additionally, an interim committee on crime and corrections of the California State Assembly issued a report saying, "The case of Miss Meredith, from beginning to end, is a mockery of investigation, of defense counseling, of trial procedure, and of justice itself."
On July 14, 1954, California's Governor Earl Warren ordered Meredith's release from prison, commuting her sentence to time served. In doing so, he observed, "This is a bizarre case, perhaps more fantastic than any moving picture in which the defendant acted—but certainly having many of the attributes of a scenario."
After retiring from acting, Meredith devoted her time to helping other people who were victims of injustice.
|1944||Take It or Leave It||Kate Collins||as Marjorie Massow|
|1944||In the Meantime, Darling||Mrs. Cook||as Marjorie Massow|
|1946||Child of Divorce||Joan Carter Benton|
|1946||The Falcon's Adventure||Louisa Braganza|
|1947||Trail Street||Susan Pritchett|
|1955||To Hell and Back||Corinne||uncredited|
|1956||Tea and Sympathy||Alumna||uncredited|
|1956||The Ten Commandments||Slave||uncredited|
|1957||The Guns of Fort Petticoat||Hazel McCasslin||uncredited|
- "Madge Meredith, 96". Classic Images (510): 55–56. December 2017.
- "Madge Meredith Returns To Iowa Falls for Visit". Box Office. April 19, 1947. p. 67. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
- Stinson, Herb (29 July 1951). "The Madge Meredith Story". The Des Moines Register. Iowa, Des Moines. p. Section 7 - Page 1. Retrieved January 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
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- "Quick Takes" (PDF). Billboard. December 5, 1953. p. 10. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
- Renner, Joan (June 20, 2013). "A Story Fit for Film: Did Actress Madge Meredith Kidnap Her Manager?". Los Angeles Magazine. Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
- "Madge Meredith Set for Fight To Clear Name, Return to Fame". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Texas, Corpus Christi. Associated Press. February 10, 1952. p. 10-B. Retrieved January 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- Stinson, Herb (5 August 1951). "What Comes Next For the Pretty Girl from Iowa Falls Who Has Had Hollywood and Prison in Her Career?". The Des Moines Register. Iowa, Des Moines. p. Section 7 - Page 1.
- "Movie Star Said Framed In Court". The Circleville Herald. Ohio, Circleville. March 27, 1951. p. 9. Retrieved January 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- Hopper, Hedda (September 30, 1953). "Madge Meredith Becomes Bride". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. 27. Retrieved January 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.