Frances Gifford

Mary Frances Gifford (December 7, 1920 - January 22, 1994) was an American actress who played leads and supporting roles in many 1930s and 1940s movies. Gifford was born and raised in Long Beach, California and at the age of 16 had applied to UCLA School of Law with no intention of pursuing an acting career. With a friend, she visited the studios of Samuel Goldwyn to watch a film being made and while there was spotted by a talent scout who brought her to the attention of Goldwyn, who signed her for an acting contract. After only receiving minor roles, she moved to RKO where she was cast in several uncredited supporting roles in films of the late 1930s, including Stage Door (1937) starring Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. In 1938 at the age of 18, she married character actor James Dunn and in 1939 landed her first leading role, in the low-budget Mercy Plane, opposite her husband. A planned retirement was interrupted briefly when she played another uncredited role in James Stewart's break-out film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).


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