The Best "Girl Next Door" in Classic Films

by qbine3 | created - 05 Feb 2017 | updated - 05 Feb 2017 | Public

They say, if you want the girl-next-door, go next door. That's exactly what we've done. Take a look at 25 of the prettiest, perkiest, loveliest girl next door types from the 1930's, 40's and 50's

1. Donna Reed

Actress | It's a Wonderful Life

Donna Reed was born in the midwestern town of Denison, Iowa, on January 27, 1921, as Donna Belle Mullenger. A small town - a population of less than 3,000 people - Denison was located by the Boyer River, and was the county seat of Crawford County. Donna grew up as a farm girl, much like many young ...

2. Teresa Wright

Actress | Shadow of a Doubt

A natural and lovely talent who was discovered for films by Samuel Goldwyn, the always likable Teresa Wright distinguished herself early on in high-caliber, Oscar-worthy form -- the only performer ever to be nominated for Oscars for her first three films. Always true to herself, she was able to ...

3. Joan Leslie

Actress | Yankee Doodle Dandy

She was born of Irish ancestry as Joan Agnes Theresa Brodel, the daughter of an accountant and a pianist. She was educated at Catholic schools in Toronto, Montreal and Detroit. There were three sisters, her older siblings being Mary and Betty. Together, they made up a successful vaudeville act, the...

4. Ann Rutherford

Actress | Gone with the Wind

Ann Rutherford was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The daughter of a former Metropolitan Opera singer, John Rutherford, and her actress mother, Lillian Mansfield, was destined for show business. Not long after her birth, her family moved to California, where she made her stage debut in...

5. Marsha Hunt

Actress | Pride and Prejudice

Stardom somehow eluded this vastly gifted actress. Had it not perhaps been for her low-level profile compounded by her McCarthy-era blacklisting in the early 1950s, there is no telling what higher tier Marsha Hunt might have attained. Perhaps her work was not flashy enough, or too subdued, or ...

6. Barbara Hale

Actress | Perry Mason

Barbara was born on 18 April 1922, as one of two children. As a young girl, Ms. Hale intended to major in art and drawing; she began her professional career as a model for a comic strip called "Ramblin' Bill", during the time she was working her way through The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. She ...

7. Jeanne Crain

Actress | State Fair

Jeanne Crain was born in Barstow, California, on May 25, 1925. The daughter of a high school English teacher and his wife, Jeanne was moved to Los Angeles not long after her birth after her father got another teaching position in that city. While in junior high school, Jeanne played the lead in a ...

8. Ellen Drew

Actress | Isle of the Dead

Talented Missouri-born Ellen Drew was born Esther Loretta Ray in 1915, the daughter of an Irish barber. She worked various jobs (accountant, salesgirl) to support her family until her fresh-faced good looks and high-wattage smile earned her a couple of beauty pageant trophies. Encouraged to try her...

9. Cathy O'Donnell

Actress | The Best Years of Our Lives

Born and raised in Alabama as Ann Steely, O'Donnell attended high school and college in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then worked as a stenographer to finance a trip to Hollywood, where she was spotted by a talent scout, leading to her being signed to a contract by producer Samuel Goldwyn.

Samuel Goldwyn...

10. June Allyson

Actress | Executive Suite

American leading lady whose sweet smile and sunny disposition made her the prototypical girl-next-door of American movies of the 1940s. Raised in semi-poverty in Bronx neighborhoods by her divorced mother, Allyson (nee Ella Geisman) was injured in a fall at age eight and spent four years confined ...

11. Priscilla Lane

Actress | Arsenic and Old Lace

Priscilla Lane attended the Eagin School of Dramatic Arts in New York before she began touring with her sisters in the Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians Dance Band. She was a popular singer with her sisters and, after 5 years, she was signed to a Hollywood contract with Warner Brothers in 1937. ...

12. Gail Russell

Actress | The Uninvited

Gail Russell was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 21, 1924. She remained in the Windy City, going to school until her parents moved to California when she was 14. She was an above-average student in school and upon graduation from Santa Monica High School was signed by Paramount Studios.

...

13. Bonita Granville

Actress | Now, Voyager

Daughter of Bernard Granville, Bonita Granville was born into an acting family. It's not surprising that she herself became a child actor, first on the stage and, at the age of 9, debuting in movies in Westward Passage (1932). She was regularly cast as a naughty little girl, as in These Three (1936)...

14. Jeff Donnell

Actress | In a Lonely Place

A reliable featured player and occasional co-star, actress Jeff Donnell was born Jean Marie Donnell in a boy's reformatory in South Windham, Maine in 1921. The younger of two daughters, her father (Howard) was a penologist and mother (Mildred) a schoolteacher. Raised in Maryland, she took piano and...

15. Betty Lynn

Actress | The Andy Griffith Show

Missouri born-and-bred Betty Ann Lynn was born in Kansas City. Her name is as light, breezy and innocent as the characters she played on film and TV. She is pleasantly remembered for playing TV's sweet-as-apple-pie "Thelma Lou" who had the tough end of the bargain as the ever-patient girlfriend of ...

16. Deanna Durbin

Soundtrack | Mad About Music

The girl who one day would be known as "Winnipeg's Sweetheart" was born at Grace Hospital on December 4, 1921, as Edna Mae Durbin. In her early childhood there were no obvious signs that one day she would be a bigger box office attraction than Shirley Temple. Renamed Deanna Durbin for show business...

17. Marjorie Reynolds

Actress | The Time of Their Lives

Bright, vivacious Marjorie Reynolds (née Marjorie Goodspeed) was born in Idaho on August 12, 1917 to a doctor and homemaker, and raised in Los Angeles. Making her film debut at age 6, she "retired" after only a few years in favor of a normal education. She returned in the mid-30s, as a teenager ...

18. Debbie Reynolds

Actress | Singin' in the Rain

Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas, the second child of Maxine N. (Harmon) and Raymond Francis Reynolds, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Her film career began at MGM after she won a beauty contest at age 16 impersonating Betty Hutton. Reynolds wasn't a ...

19. Kathryn Grayson

Actress | Kiss Me Kate

Kathryn Grayson was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, NC, on February 9, 1922. This pretty, petite brunette with a heart-shaped face was discovered by MGM talent scouts while singing on the radio. The studio quickly signed her to a contract, and she was given acting lessons ...

20. Ann Blyth

Actress | Mildred Pierce

The dark, petulant beauty of this petite American film and musical star worked to her advantage, especially in her early dramatic career. Ann Marie Blyth was born of Irish stock to Harry and Nan Blyth on August 16, 1928, in Mt. Kisco, New York. Her parents split while she was young and she, her ...

21. Frances Dee

Actress | I Walked with a Zombie

Dee was born in Los Angeles, where her Army officer father was stationed, and grew up in Chicago after her father was transferred there. In 1929, he was re-assigned to L.A., and, as a lark, the 19 year old Dee began working in motion pictures as an extra. Her debut was in Words and Music (1929) ...

22. June Haver

Actress | Love Nest

June Haver was born on June 10, 1926, in Rock Island, Illinois, with the birth name of Beverly June Stovenour. Her parents divorced at an early age and she was adopted by Bert Haver, her stepfather. Her mother and new father moved to Cincinnati, where she appeared on the stage for the first time at...

23. Olivia de Havilland

Actress | The Heiress

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents Lilian Augusta (Ruse), a former actress, and Walter Augustus de Havilland, an English professor and patent attorney. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine, was born the following year. Her ...

24. Martha Scott

Actress | The Ten Commandments

Martha Ellen Scott was born in Jamesport, Missouri, to Letha (McKinley) and Walter Alva Scott, an engineer and garage owner. She entered films in the early 1940s, following an initial appearance in stock. Her first film appearance was Our Town (1940), playing the same character as she played on the...

25. Nancy Olson

Actress | Sunset Blvd.

Milwaukee-born Nancy Ann Olson was the daughter of Henry, a physician, and Evelyn Olson, and educated at the University of Wisconsin. Discovered on stage after transferring to California's UCLA, the pretty, peaches-and-cream blonde was quickly signed by Paramount Studios in 1948 and almost ...

26. Janet Leigh

Actress | Psycho

Janet Leigh was the only child of a couple who often moved from town to town. Living in apartments, Janet was a bright child who skipped several grades and finished high school when she was 15. A lonely child, she would spend much of her time at movie theaters. She was a student, studying music and...

27. Vera Miles

Actress | The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Born in Boise City, Oklahoma, Vera Miles attended school in Pratt, Kansas and Wichita, Kansas. The patrician beauty of Miss Miles won her the title of "Miss Kansas" in 1948, leading soon to small roles in Hollywood films and television series. Fame came to the forthright, spirited Miles when she ...

28. Rochelle Hudson

Actress | Imitation of Life

Rochelle Hudson was born on March 6, 1916 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. She was an actress, known for Imitation of Life (1934), Harold Teen (1934) and Born Reckless (1937). She was married to Robert L. Mindell, Dick Irving Hyland, Harold E. Thompson and Charles Brust. She died on January 17, ...

29. Janet Gaynor

Actress | Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Gainor on October 6, 1906, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, she & her parents moved to San Francisco, California, where she graduated from high school in 1923. She then moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in a secretarial school. She got a job at a shoe ...

30. Cecilia Parker

Actress | Ah Wilderness!

Canadian-born Cecilia Parker, daughter of a British army officer, moved with her family to Hollywood when she was a child. After graduation from high school she got a job as an extra. She did extra work for about a year before she was noticed by Fox executives, who signed her to a contract in 1931....



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