Ona Munson

Ona Munson was an American leading and supporting actress in 1930s and 40s Hollywood, her background included both vaudeville and the Broadway musical stage.

 

Ona Munson

 

Munson was born Owena Wolcott on June 16, 1903 in Portland, Oregon. She first came to fame on Broadway as the singing and dancing ingenue in the original production of “No, No, Nanette”. From this, she had a very successful stage and radio career in 1930s in New York. She introduced the song “You’re the Cream in My Coffee” in the 1927 Broadway musical “Hold Everything”. Munson’s first movie starring role was in a Warner Brothers talkie called “Going Wild” (1930). She then appeared the next year in a musical comedy “Hot Heiress” (1931) in which she sings several songs along with her co-star Ben Lyon. She also starred in “Broadminded” (1931) and “Five Star Final” (1931).

 

 

 

 

 

Ona Munson as ‘Belle Watling’ in “Gone With The Wind” (1939)

 

Munson briefly retired from the screen, only to return in 1938. She is probably best remembered for her role as the prostitute ‘Belle Watling’ in “Gone With The Wind” (1939). Another memorable role was as the madame ‘Mother Gin Sling’ in the “The Shanghai Gesture” (1941). Munson made a few more movies over the next few years including “Drums Of The Congo” (1942) and “The Cheaters” (1945). She retired from film in 1947.

 

Ona Munson in The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

 

Ona Munson was married three times, to actor and director Edward Buzzell in 1927, to Stewart McDonald in 1941, and designer Eugene Berman in 1949. In 1955, plagued by ill health, she committed suicide at the age of 51 with an overdose of barbiturates in her apartment in New York. A note found next to her deathbed read, “This is the only way I know to be free again…Please don’t follow me.”
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Ona Munson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6211 Hollywood Boulevard.

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