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Helen Walker Quick Facts
|photo of Walker by Whitey Schafer|
|Birth Date/Birth Place||(1920-07-17)July 17, 1920
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Death||March 10, 1968(1968-03-10)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||cancer|
|Resting place||Oak Hill Cemetery, Sterling, Massachusetts|
|Relationship(s)||Edward DuDomaine (1950-1952) (divorced)
Robert Blumofe (1942-1946) (divorced)
Helen Walker is an American actress, born on 17 July 1920 in Worcester (Massachusetts ), died of cancer the in Los Angeles – North Hollywood District (California).
Her friends and fans nicknamed her “The Honorable Betty Cream” as a tribute to her role in Ernst Lubitsch’s The Crazy Husband (Cluny Brown).
Helen Walker’s Biography
Helen Walker’s film career is that of a meteor. It can be summed up in a few tragic words: famous at 22 years, injured and involved in a painful trial at 26, she never quite recovered from this drama. After a meritorious comeback, she disappeared from the screens after her house caught fire. Finally, she fell ill and died at age 47 of cancer.
Youth and Beginnings
Orphaned at the age of four, she navigates very early in the artistic community. She is nicknamed, she and her sisters “naughty girls Walker ” After a good high school education, she made herself known at the head of a play built around the life of Jane Eyre and took a chance in New York. Engaged as a model for a company in shirt making, she becomes the lining of Dorothy McGuire. At the same time, she landed a job at the theater, and played Broadway in 1942, in a play by Samson Raphaelson, Jason. This will be his only appearance on New York boards.
Helen arrives at 21 in Hollywood. Engaged by Paramount, she has only eight dollars in her pocket. She gradually emerges from the role of gourd, model and advertising object that try to make him play the studios and binds with Robert Benchley, then June Havoc, and finally marries a lawyer of the Paramount, Robert Blumhofe , which she separates without a crash soon after. Her connections include Gail Russell, who introduces her to vodka.
In less than three years, Walker has been hitching close to the top ten movies, including the wacky Murder, he says George Marshall (1945). They help to give it the aura of an actress with varied jobs, mixing tragedy and comedy, capable of playing both seductress and “deus es machina”. After a prominent role in The Man in Half Moon Street (1945, directed by Ralph Murphy), she turns in the penultimate film of Ernst Lubitsch, Cluny Brown (The Crazy Engineer, 1946). During these years of war, she participated in the national effort by recording some records for the army, and performing during tours to raise the morale of the troops.
In 1946, she finally played in Nightmare Alley (The Charlatan, directed by Edmund Goulding) the role of the magician Lilith Ritter. The film is released the following year.
But in the meantime, on New Year’s Eve 1946, on the road from Palm Springs, California, to Los Angeles, she hitchhikes a 21-year-old soldier named Robert E. Lee , and two other soldiers, Philip Mercado and Joseph Montaldo. The alcohol seems to be the cause of the accident that follows, then, near Redlands, while Helen Walker is driving. The car (owned by the director ‘Lucky’ Humberstone) makes several rolls, Robert E. Lee dies, the two other hitchhikers are injured. Helen Walker is seriously injured (fractured pelvis, collarbone, toes). The ensuing lawsuit ruins the reputation and career of the rising star. In 1947, she was charged with manslaughter, then released, but again harassed by the other two passengers, who claimed 150,000 dollars in compensation and loaded her heavily. Immediately, the studios replaced her with Marjorie Reynolds on the set of the film she had started, Heaven Only Knows by Albert S. Rogell (released in 1947). Lucky Humberstone remains by his side.
A quick end of career
In April 1947, she renews her contract with 20th Century Fox. In 1949, she married Edward DuDomaine, a department store executive, whom she separated in 1952. In the meantime, she entered St. John’s Hospital for first aid.
Although it does not stand out in its subsequent interpretations, notably Call Northside 777 (Call North 777, 1948, directed by Henry Hathaway), Impact (1949, directed by Arthur Lubin), and The Big Combo (Criminal Association, 1955, directed by Joseph Lewis), Helen Walker never finds a real place in the Hollywood of the 1950s. She is what is then called in Hollywood a “Smart Beauty ” In 1953, she became friends with Bill Hudson.
When she retired from the cinema, Helen Walker played in nineteen American films only, all made between 1942 and 1955. She worked with partners such as Charles Boyer (La Folle Ingénue, 1946) and Tyrone Power. (The Charlatan, 1947), James Stewart (Call North 777, 1948), Kirk Douglas (My dear secretary, 1949), Mickey Rooney (director of My True Story, 1951) or Cornel Wilde (Criminal Association, 1955, his last movie.). In the late 1950s, alcohol made her slip into paranoia and fainting fits.
After retiring from the big screen in 1955, Helen Walker appeared on television again, in three series, in 1956, 1957, and 1960, when the fire destroyed her home. Dinah Shore, Hugh O’Brian, Ruth Roman and Vivian Blaine offer him the benefits of a support gala. Walker retired permanently after this blow in a small apartment in North Hollywood, suffering from cancer of the jaw. She died there in 1968. Her mother and sister buried her in Boylston.
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