Barbara Britton a popular film actress of the 1940s

Barbara Britton was an American film and television actress best known for her western film roles opposite Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Gene Autry and for her two-year tenure as inquisitive amateur sleuth Pam North on the television series “Mr. and Mrs. North”.

 

Barbara Britton (September 26, 1919 – January 17, 1980)

Barbara Britton
(September 26, 1919 – January 17, 1980)

Barbara Britton was born Barbara Maurine Brantingham on September 26, 1919, in Long Beach, California. Britton attended Polytechnic High School and Long Beach City College, majoring in speech with the intention of working as a speech and drama teacher. While in school she started to show an interest in acting and began working on local stage productions. In 1941, while appearing in a Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, a photo of Britton was used on the front page of a local newspaper. A talent scout took notice and she was soon signed to a Paramount Pictures contract. Paramount thought that the name Brantingham would be “too long to fit on a marquee”, so Barbara chose as her stage name ‘Britton’, a cherished family surname. Shortly after signing with Paramount Britton appeared in her first two films, a William Boyd western “Secrets of the Wasteland” (1941) and “Louisiana Purchase” (1941) starring Bob Hope. Her first major film appearance was in a small role in the John Wayne film “Reap the Wild Wind” (1942).

 

Brian Donlevy, Barbara Britton, and Joel McCrea in "The Virginian" (1946)

Brian Donlevy, Barbara Britton, and Joel McCrea
in “The Virginian” (1946)

 

Britton would go on to appear in twenty seven movies and shorts during the 1940s including roles in popular films such as “So Proudly We Hail!” (1943), “Till We Meet Again” (1944), “The Virginian” (1946) opposite Joel McCrea , “The Return of Monte Cristo” (1946), “Gunfighters” (1947) with Randolph Scott, and “Albuquerque” (1948) also with Randolph Scott. With her growing popularity during the 40s, Britton’s picture would appear on more than one hundred magazine covers over a two year span, including those of Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion, and McCall’s. In 1949, a newspaper article reported, “Today, Barbara Britton’s picture has appeared on more national magazine covers than any other motion picture actress in the world.”

 

Barbara Britton, Randolph Scott, and Dorothy Hart in a promo for "Gunfighters" (1947)

Barbara Britton, Randolph Scott, and Dorothy Hart
in a promo for “Gunfighters” (1947)

 

During the 1950s, Britton would turn to television, starring in the 1950s television show “Mr. and Mrs. North”, a Thin Man-like mystery show, with Richard Denning and Francis De Sales. Britton became well known for being the spokesperson for Revlon products in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in ads and commercials that included live spots on “The $64,000 Question”. She also portrayed Laura Petrie in Carl Reiner’s “Head of the Family”, the 1959 pilot for the later Dick Van Dyke Show. In between her television roles Britton co-starred intermittently in such “B” films as “Bandit Queen” (1950), “The Raiders” (1952), “Bwana Devil” (1952), “Dragonfly Squadron” (1954), “Ain’t Misbehavin'” (1955), “Night Freight” (1955) and with her final movie role in “The Spoilers” (1955) opposite Jeff Chandler and Rory Calhoun.

 

Barbara Britton (far right) with Mamie Van Doren, Dani Crayne, Rory Calhoun, and Piper Laurie in "Ain't Misbehavin'" (1955)

Barbara Britton (far right) with Mamie Van Doren,
Dani Crayne, Rory Calhoun, and Piper Laurie in
“Ain’t Misbehavin'” (1955)

 

During the late 50’s and 60’s Britton had roles in various Broadway Shows and appeared in a some of the more popular television roles of that period. Her last role was as a regular on the daytime soap “One Life to Live” in 1979. Her time on this show was short-lived though as the actress was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer not long after.

 

Barbara Britton with Ray Danton in "The Spoilers" (1955)

Barbara Britton with Ray Danton in
“The Spoilers” (1955)

 

In 1944, Britton suffered from nervous exhaustion due to overwork and was advised to seek the help of physician and psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene J. Czukor. The two fell in love and Britton and Czukor, who was 22 years her senior, were married on April 2, 1945. They raised two children together, a son Theodore who appeared on the Canadian Shakespearean stage and later became a yoga instructor, and daughter Christina who grew up to become a model, actress, opera singer, music therapist and romance novelist. Both used the surname Britton during their careers. The couple remained married until her death.

 

Barbara Britton with Sonny Tufts on the set of "The Untamed Breed" (1948)

Barbara Britton with Sonny Tufts on the set of
“The Untamed Breed” (1948)

 

Barbara Britton died of pancreatic cancer in New York City on January 17, 1980, at the age of 60.
On February 8, 1960 Britton received a star for television on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1719 Vine Street.

 

Barbara Britton in "Return of Monte Cristo" (1946)

Barbara Britton in “Return of Monte Cristo” (1946)

Be sociable...Share!!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest9Share on StumbleUpon0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Tumblr0

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

*