Filled Under: Peggy Dow
Peggy Dow made nine films in Hollywood from 1949-51 when she suddenly walked away from stardom to get married and raise a family.
Peggy Dow was born Margaret Josephine Varnadow on March 18, 1928 in Columbia, Mississippi. Her father was business man and the family moved from place to place. They finally settled in Louisiana where Dow attended both Louisiana State University and Northwestern State University. While at college Dow majored in drama and appeared in several college plays. After brief modeling and radio experience, she was spotted by a talent agent and cast in a TV show in February 1949. Shortly after that exposure, Universal offered her a seven-year contract. Dow made a successful feature film debut co-starring with Scott Brady in the thriller “Undertow” (1949) and then a second successful appearance in “Woman in Hiding” (1950) which co-starred Ida Lupino and Stephen McNally. She went on to make nine films in three years, with her most notable role in 1950 as Nurse Kelly in the hit comedy “Harvey” with James Stewart. Dow also starred with Arthur Kennedy in the touching war drama “Bright Victory” (1951), the story of a soldier who is blinded and must learn to readjust to civilian life. Proving she could handle both comedic and dramatic roles, her star was on the rise when she decided to walk away from it all after only three years in Hollywood.
Despite a promising Hollywood career, Peggy Dow suddenly retired from the film business in 1951 to marry Walter Helmerich, an oil driller. The couple relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma and had five sons together, Rik, Zak, Mat, Hans, Jon, and twelve grandchildren.
In 1998 Peggy Dow received an honorary degree from the University of Oklahoma for her devotion to improving health care education and cultural events in Tulsa. Dow helped establish the Tulsa Library Trust and the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award given each year to writers on behalf of the Tulsa community.