Phyllis Brooks
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Phyllis Brooks
Phyllis Brooks
Phyllis Brooks (circa 1935).jpg
Brooks in the 1930s
Born(1915-07-18)July 18, 1915[1]
Boise, Idaho, U.S.
DiedAugust 1, 1995(1995-08-01) (aged 80)
OccupationActress, model
Years active1934-1952
Torbert H. Macdonald
(m. 1945; died 1976)

Phyllis Brooks (July 18, 1915 - August 1, 1995) was an American actress and model. She was born in Boise, Idaho. Some sources have also inaccurately cited 1914 as her year of birth, but 1915 is the correct year according to Social Security records.


She was a model for two years before progressing to a career in film. She stated, "I started posing for photographers as a lark, and it was a lot of fun."[2]

She had been known as the "Ipana Toothpaste Girl", due to her work for that product.[1]


Initially known as Mary Brooks, she began her career in films in 1934[1] at age 20, in I've Been Around.[3] Brooks, who had about 30 performances in films, was a B-movie leading lady during the 1930s and 1940s, with roles in such films as In Old Chicago (1937), Little Miss Broadway (1938) and The Shanghai Gesture (1941).

She appeared in Sidney Toler's Charlie Chan series, in the Shirley Temple films Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and in Little Miss Broadway.[4]


On Broadway, Brooks appeared in Stage Door (1936-37), Panama Hattie (1940-42), The Night Before Christmas (1941), and Round Trip (1945).[5]

Wartime activities

Phyllis Brooks (middle) with Gary Cooper and Una Merkel at a Brisbane press conference on their way to entertain the troops (1943)

Brooks was reported (UK Sunday Telegraph December 1942) as being president of Parties Unlimited Inc. in an article about Hollywood at war. Along with actress Una Merkel and accompanied by film star Gary Cooper, Brooks was the first civilian woman to travel to the Pacific theater of war during World War II on a USO tour.

Personal life

Brooks was engaged at one time to Cary Grant.[6] She married Torbert Macdonald on June 23, 1945, in Tarrytown, New York.[7] Macdonald, who had been John F. Kennedy's roommate at Harvard University, went on to become an 11-term Massachusetts Congressman.

Brooks moved East to Cambridge, Massachusetts with her new husband in 1945 so that he could complete his studies at Harvard Law School. He had been a Harvard football captain and a decorated PT boat captain in World War II. He died in office in 1976.[8][9]

Brooks continued performing in summer stock theater after his death, and hosted the first television interview program in Boston in the early 1950s (on WBZ-TV). She retired from public performances after that, concentrating on raising her family. The couple had four children, the eldest of whom was President Kennedy's godson.[]


Brooks died on August 1, 1995, in Cape Neddick, Maine, aged 80. She was survived by sons, Torbert Jr. and Brian, daughters Laurie and Robin, and eight grandchildren.[3] She was also survived by her brother, playwright Norman Allen Brooks.[3][10]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ a b c Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books; ISBN 0-399-50601-2, pg. 170.
  2. ^ Keavy, Hubbard (August 31, 1935). "Their Modeling Days Are Over -- Phyllis and Marsha Play Leads". Altoona Tribune. p. 6. Retrieved 2015 – via access
  3. ^ a b c "Phyllis Brooks; Model Acted on Stage, Screen". Los Angeles Times. August 5, 1995. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ "Phyllis Brooks, 80, Actress and Hostess". The New York Times. August 3, 1995. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ "Phyllis Brooks". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ "Phyllis Brooks, 80, Actress and Hostess". The New York Times. August 3, 1995. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ "Marriages". Billboard. July 28, 1945. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ "Phyllis Brooks, 80, Actress and Hostess". The New York Times. August 3, 1995. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Biographies of the Representatives of the 7th District of Massachusetts". Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ Norman Allen Brooks profile,; accessed May 6, 2016.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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