Tarzan and the Slave Girl 1950 with Lex Barker and Vanessa Brown

Lex Barker, here with a new Jane – Vanessa Brown.

I must have another viewing of this film which looks a good one – and Vanessa Brown certainly looks to be a good reason for watching it

 

Tarzan

 

ABOVE - At RKO, Vanessa Brown was a far-from-plain Jane to Lex Barker’s apeman in Tarzan And The Slave Girl (1950). “The swinging in the trees was not too difficult,” Vanessa explained. “My muscles were in good shape. Playing the role itself as I thought it should be played required much more effort.”

Vanessa Brown with Lex Barker

 

Vanessa Brown was born Smylla Brind in Vienna, the daughter of language teacher Nah Brind and psychologist Anna Brind. Her family fled the Nazis when she was nine, moving first to France and then to New York. In 1941, aged 13, the precocious child, who spoke German, French, Italian and English, was in elementary school in Manhattan, when she heard that the producer of the first production of Watch On The Rhine was looking for a little girl with a German accent to play the role of the 10-year-old Viennese girl. She borrowed the subway fare and went directly to author Lillian Hellman, who offered her the part. However, her parents refused to allow her to leave school, so she understudied Ann Blyth and stepped into the role at the end of the Broadway run.

Vanessa Brown 2

While in Chicago with the play she was a guest on the popular radio show Quiz Kids, featuring a panel of five exceptional children answering questions from listeners and the studio audience. She did so well that she was offered and accepted a regular spot on the panel. After two years on radio, she made her first movie, billed as Tessa Brind in Youth Runs Wild (1944), in which she shone as a star-crossed lover.

While taking an English degree at the University of California, she signed a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox, and became Vanessa Brown. For the studio she played the demur friends of the juvenile leads in Margie (1946) and Mother Wore Tights (1947), and appeared in two Joseph M Mankiewicz films in 1947 – The Late George Apley and The Ghost And Mrs Muir.

Tarzan and the Slave Girl 1950

At RKO, she was a far-from-plain Jane to Lex Barker’s apeman in Tarzan And The Slave Girl (1950). “The swinging in the trees was not too difficult,” Vanessa explained. “My muscles were in good shape. Playing the role itself as I thought it should be played required much more effort.”

Vanessa Brown

ABOVE – She looks very beautiful in this photograph

More demanding was her role as Celia to Katharine Hepburn’s Rosalind in the touring company of As You Like It in the same year.

After appearing opposite Richard Conte in The Fighter, and in a minor role in Vincente Minnelli’s The Bad And The Beautiful (both 1952), she made a spectacular return to the stage in The Seven Year Itch. She was described as “looking nothing like so much as a taboo perfume ad” to entice 39-year-old married man Tom Ewell.

After this long run, she married plastic surgeon Robert Alan Franklyn, and starred in a TV sitcom, My Favourite Husband. She then retired from acting. Following her divorce in 1959, she married TV director Mark Sandrich, with whom she had two children.

She made her film comeback in Rosie! (1967) as wealthy widow Rosalind Russell’s grasping daughter, and appeared in TV series such as General Hospital, Murder, She Wrote, and Homicide: Life on the Streets as late as 1997.

• Vanessa Brown, actress, was  born March 24, 1928, and sadly  died May 21, 1999.

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