Filled Under: Joan Leslie
Joan Leslie was born Joan Agnes Theresa Sadie Brodel on January 26, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan. She began performing as a singer at the age of nine as part of a vaudeville act with her two sisters, Betty and Mae Brodel. She later began her Hollywood acting career while still a child, performing under her real name in several movies, beginning with her debut in the MGM movie “Camille” (1936) with Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. Leslie signed a contract with Warner Bros. and at age 16 got her first major role in “High Sierra” (1941) with Humphrey Bogart, playing a crippled girl under her new billing as “Joan Leslie”. In 1941 Leslie also starred in “Sergeant York” with Gary Cooper and “The Wagons Roll at Night” with Humphrey Bogart. In 1942 she appeared as James Cagney’s wife in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and in “The Male Animal” with Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland. In 1943 Leslie danced and co-starred with Fred Astaire in “The Sky’s the Limit”. During WWII Leslie was a regular volunteer at the Hollywood Canteen where she danced with the servicemen and granted hundreds of autographs. In 1944, she starred with Robert Hutton in the Warner Bros. film, “Hollywood Canteen”. Over the next dozen years Leslie had roles in several movies such as “Two Guys From Milwaukee” (1946), “Born To Be Bad” (1950), “Man In The Saddle” (1951) and “Jubilee Trail” (1954). Her last movie role was in “The Revolt of Mamie Stover” in 1956.
Joan Leslie married Dr. William Caldwell on March 17, 1950. Leslie and Caldwell remained married for fifty years until his death in 2000. They had two children together, identical twin daughters Patrice and Ellen. Leslie retired from Hollywood in 1956 to raise her daughters. Over the years she has appeared in several television commercials and has made guest appearances on television in shows such as “Murder, She Wrote”, “Branded”, and “Charlie’s Angels” to name just a few. She has also provided commentary as extras on the “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, “Sergeant York”, and “High Sierra” DVDs.
Joan Leslie has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street.