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|Born||September 17, 1907|
Beaumont, Texas, USA
|Died||October 7, 1999 (aged 92)|
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
|Spouse(s)||Harry Vickerman (1925-1930)|
Fred Perry (1935-1940)
Donald Hardenbrook (1946-1976)
Helen Vinson (September 17, 1907 - October 7, 1999) was an American film actress.
Vinson was born Helen Rulfs in Beaumont, Texas. She was a tall and distinguished-looking woman with brown eyes and naturally curly hair. Miss Vinson's father was an oil man. Her personal life included a passion for horses she developed during her youth. She studied at the University of Texas at Austin.
In Austin, she met Mrs. March Culmore, director of the Houston, Texas Little Theater. Culmore took Helen as a pupil and soon the young woman was playing leads with The Little Theater Group. From Texas, she moved quickly to Broadway. Her first success in New York City was in a play called Los Angeles. A succession of performances followed and led to a contract with Warner Brothers. Later, she regretted her quick leap to Hollywood and motion pictures. She lamented, "If I'd stayed in New York longer, I'd be getting a much bigger salary out here now."
Vinson's screen career often featured her in roles in which she played the part of the other woman or (pre-Code) loose women with active romantic lives. Her first film role was Jewel Robbery (1932), which starred William Powell and Kay Francis. She appeared as Doris Dulafield in The Kennel Murder Case, which starred Powell as Philo Vance. She followed that role with the role of Helen Draque in The Thin Man Goes Home. One of her memorable roles was in The Wedding Night (1935). She played the wife of Gary Cooper and the rival of Anna Sten, in a story about the Connecticut tobacco fields. Another performance was in the RKO film In Name Only (1939), in which she was cast as the treacherous friend of Carole Lombard, Kay Francis, and Cary Grant. Another stand-out role for Vinson was as an undercover federal agent posing as a femme fatale opposite Richard Cromwell in Universal Pictures's anti-Nazi action drama entitled, Enemy Agent (1940). Vinson's film career petered out in 1945.
Private life and death
Away from film-making and following her retirement, Vinson's activities made frequent trips to New York City to see Broadway shows, visited friends in her home state of Texas, and enjoyed the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. She was married to noted tennis player Fred Perry. She loved horses and had a private and personal mount named Arrabella. Helen Vinson died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1999, aged 92.
- "Close-Up of a Real Trooper". Oakland Tribune. March 17, 1935. p. 70.
- "For Women Only". Port Arthur News. November 26, 1939. p. 47.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Helen Vinson|
- Helen Vinson at the Internet Movie Database
- Helen Vinson and Fred Perry New York Public Library Digital Gallery image (1935)
- Helen Vinson at Find a Grave