Joan Leslie, a star of classic Hollywood, died Monday in Los Angeles. She was 90 years old.
Leslie was icon of the early film industry. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her a candidate for one of the top 25 greatest female screen legends to debut before 1950. Her film career spanned from 1936 to 1956, where she appeared in more than 40 films. She began to gain buzz by appearing in the Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino-starred noir High Sierra in 1941, followed by WWI biopic Sergeant York.
Then Yankee Doodle Dandy hit screens the next year. Leslie shared the screen with James Cagney. It was a biographical feature about the life of entertainer and playwright George M. Cohan, who penned musical standards “Yankee Doodle Boy” and “Give My Regards to Broadway” among others. The teenaged Leslie played a singer and performer herself in Mary, the eventual wife of Cohan.
Leslie was born in Detroit on Jan. 26, 1925. She, along with her sisters Mary and Betty, performed and toured at a young age around Detroit, New York, and Florida. Leslie married William G. Caldwell in 1950 and remained together until his death in 2000. While she sporadically appeared in works after, she focused on her family after marriage, but had small turns in high-profile TV shows such as Charlie’s Angels, The Incredible Hulk, and Murder, She Wrote.
She and Caldwell had two daughters, Patrice and Ellen. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations made to Our Mother of Good Counsel Church or St. Anne’s in L.A.