Beatrice Joan Caulfield
June 1, 1922
West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||June 18, 1991 (aged 69)|
(m. 1950; div. 1960)
(m. 1960; div. 1966)
|Relatives||Genevieve Caulfield (aunt)|
Beatrice Joan Caulfield (June 1, 1922 - June 18, 1991) was an American actress and model. After being discovered by Broadway producers, she began a stage career in 1943 that eventually led to signing as an actress with Paramount Pictures. In the opinion of Ephraim Katz in The Film Encyclopedia, published in 1979, "For several years she was among Paramount's top stars, radiating delicate femininity and demure beauty but rarely much else."
Beatrice Joan Caulfield was born on June 1, 1922 in West Orange, New Jersey. She attended Miss Beard's School in Orange, New Jersey. Caulfield was the niece of Genevieve Caulfield, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 for her work with blind children. During her teenage years, the family moved to New York City, where she eventually attended Columbia University. While at Columbia, Caulfield was active in many plays presented by the university's drama group. She also ventured into being a model with the Harry Conover Agency and "became a favorite with top-drawer fashion magazines," with her pictures appearing in many national magazines, including being on the cover of Life magazine's May 11, 1942, issue.
She had a great success portraying the troublesome teenager Corliss Archer in the 1943 hit comedy play Kiss and Tell, also under the direction of Abbott. It was a huge success, running for 956 performances until 1945. After a year in the role, Caulfield left the production to pursue offers from Hollywood and she was replaced by her sister Betty Caulfield. (Shirley Temple would play Caulfield's role in the 1945 film version of Kiss and Tell.) Paramount offered her a contract which gave her six months off a year to do a play.
The film was not released for a number of months due to a backlog of films. Made after but released earlier was Duffy's Tavern (1945), in which Caulfield had a cameo along with most of Paramount's talent roster.
She was with Bing Crosby and Paul Draper in Blue Skies (1946). When original director Mark Sandrich died, Caulfield was pulled out of the film but Crosby insisted she stay. Eventually Draper was replaced with Fred Astaire. The result was a huge box office success. Caulfield waived her right to take time off to do stage work.
One of Caulfield's most memorable film roles was when she was loaned out to Warner Bros. to appear in The Unsuspected (1947) with Claude Rains and Audrey Totter. Caulfield, taking over a role intended for Virginia Mayo, was billed over Rains.
Universal borrowed her for a film noir, Larceny (1948).
Paramount offered Caulfield $100,000 for 40 weeks work but she walked out on it to do Voice of the Turtle and Coquette on stage on the east coast. She said she did this because "I want to become a really great actress one day," and felt she needed the experience from stage. "Actresses in the movies spend most of their acting time with the hairdresser and the costumer." She returned to Paramount to do a sequel to Dear Ruth, Dear Wife (1948).
Caulfield went to Columbia to make a musical with Robert Cummings, The Petty Girl (1950) which she said she did to change from the "sweet young thing" parts she did at Paramount. She said she intended on staying in Hollywood.
In the early 50s Caulfield began guest starring on television shows such as Robert Montgomery Presents, Lux Video Theatre, The Ford Television Theatre, Schlitz Playhouse and Hollywood Opening Night. She said she preferred working in television.
In 1953, she signed a contract with CBS. In the 1953 and 1954 seasons, she had co-starred with Barry Nelson (the original James Bond, albeit on television) in the television version of My Favorite Husband, which was based upon the Lucille Ball radio series that had evolved into I Love Lucy.
Being the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life in 1957 brought Caulfield to the attention of television executives. In the words of a newspaper writer, "She photographed so beautifully that the show was hardly over before she was being approached for television appearances."
During the 1957-1958 season, Caulfield starred in Sally, a short-lived situation comedy, in the role of a traveling companion to an elderly widow, played by Marion Lorne. At midseason, Gale Gordon and Arte Johnson joined the cast.
When the series ended, Caulfield continued to guest star on shows like Pursuit, General Electric Theater, Hong Kong, Cheyenne, Burke's Law, and My Three Sons. She did stage shows like I Am a Camera and had the occasional role in a feature, such as Cattle King (1963), Red Tomahawk (1967) and Buckskin (1967).
In 1967, she starred in the TV series The High Chaparral as Annalee Cannon in the pilot episode. She was murdered in the episode and that was the premise for the whole plot.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Caulfield was active in touring companies of plays, summer stock theater and dinner theater across the country. She guest starred in a 1966 episode of My Three Sons as Florence, a visiting former girlfriend who Steve could not remember ever knowing. She could be seen in the pilot for The Magician (1973), The Daring Dobermans (1973), The Hatfields and the McCoys (1975), The Space-Watch Murders (1975), Pony Express Rider (1976), and episodes of Baretta and Murder, She Wrote.
An urban legend states that Caulfield's film Dear Ruth (1947) inspired author J.D. Salinger to name the protagonist of his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) "Holden Caulfield" after seeing a movie theater marquee with the film's stars: Caulfield and William Holden. However, Holden Caulfield was mentioned in Salinger's short story "Last Day of the Last Furlough" in the July 15, 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, three years before Dear Ruth. The earliest known use of the Caulfield name, including a mention of Holden, is in the unpublished 1942 story "The Last and Best of the Peter Pans." A more common version of the legend claims that Salinger was taken by Joan Caulfield upon first seeing her in a modeling photo or a publicity still or an acting performance. Since Joan was a leading model by 1941 and her acting career began in 1942 with an appearance in the short-lived Broadway musical Beat the Band, this version of the legend makes his using her surname for his character at least possible.
In 1950, Caulfield married film producer Frank Ross, with whom she had a son, Caulfield Kevin Ross (born 1959). Ross produced and directed her 1951 film The Lady Says No, with David Niven taking second billing as her romantic interest. Caulfield was in a car accident in 1959. She separated from Ross, blaming the stress of working on Sally, then she found out she was pregnant. Ross and Caulfield were divorced in 1960.
At the time of her death, she had one grandchild. She died within 24 hours of actress Jean Arthur, the first wife of her husband Frank Ross. Arthur had been married to Ross in 1932, and they divorced in 1949.
At Miss Beard's, a local private school, Joan made her stage debut in A Kiss for CinderellaAccessed October 23, 2007