Today is the 114th birthday of the actress Helen Vinson. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Helen Vinson
AKA: Helen Rulfs
DATE OF BIRTH: 17-Sep-1907
PLACE OF BIRTH: Beaumont, TX
DATE OF DEATH: 7-Oct-1999
PLACE OF DEATH: Chapel Hill, NC
CAUSE OF DEATH: Natural Causes
REMAINS: Buried, Oak Grove Cemetery, Nacogdoches, TX
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME 1560 Vine St. (motion pictures)
BEST KNOWN FOR: Helen Vinson was an American film actress, who appeared in 40 films between 1932 and 1945.
Vinson was born in Beaumont, Texas, the daughter of oil man Edward Rulfs. She was a tall and distinguished-looking woman with brown eyes and naturally curly hair. Her personal life included a passion for horses she developed during her youth. She studied at the University of Texas at Austin.
In Austin, she met Mrs. March Culmore, director of the Houston, Texas Little Theater. Culmore took Helen as a pupil and soon the young woman was playing leads with The Little Theater Group. From Texas, she moved quickly to Broadway, where her credits included Los Angeles (1927), Death Takes a Holiday (1931), Berlin (1931), and The Fatal Alibi (1932). A succession of performances followed and led to a contract with Warner Bros. Later, she regretted her quick leap to Hollywood and motion pictures. She lamented, “If I’d stayed in New York longer, I’d be getting a much bigger salary out here now.”
Vinson’s screen career often featured her in roles in which she played the part of the other woman or (pre-Code) loose women with active romantic lives. Her first film role was Jewel Robbery (1932), which starred William Powell and Kay Francis. She appeared as Doris Delafield in The Kennel Murder Case, which starred Powell as Philo Vance. One of her memorable roles was in The Wedding Night (1935), when she played the wife of Gary Cooper’s character and the rival of Anna Sten’s, in a story about the Connecticut tobacco fields. Another performance was in the RKO film In Name Only (1939), in which she was cast as the treacherous friend of Carole Lombard, Kay Francis and Cary Grant’s characters. Another standout role for Vinson was as an undercover federal agent posing as a femme fatale opposite Richard Cromwell in Universal Pictures’s anti-Nazi action drama entitled, Enemy Agent (1940). She followed that role with that of Helen Draque in The Thin Man Goes Home. Vinson’s film career ended in 1945.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Vinson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street.
Vinson married Harry Nelson Vickerman, a carpet manufacturer, in Houston, Texas, in May 1925. They divorced on February 7, 1934. In 1935, she married Fred Perry, a British tennis champion. They lived in England before moving to Hollywood. They divorced in 1938, after which she married Donald Hardenbrook, a “wealthy New York socialite”.
Away from film-making and following her retirement, Vinson made frequent trips to New York City to see Broadway shows, visited friends in her home state of Texas, and enjoyed the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. She loved horses and had a private and personal mount named Arrabella.
Helen Vinson died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1999, aged 92.
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Thin Man Goes Home (25-Jan-1945) · Helena Draque
The Lady and the Monster (17-Apr-1944)
Nothing But the Truth (10-Oct-1941)
Beyond Tomorrow (26-Sep-1940) · Arlene Terry
Torrid Zone (18-May-1940) · Gloria Anderson
Married and in Love (19-Jan-1940)
In Name Only (4-Aug-1939) · Suzanne
Live, Love and Learn (29-Oct-1937)
Vogues (19-Aug-1937) · Mary Curson
The Tunnel (27-Oct-1935)
Age of Indiscretion (10-May-1935) · Eve Lenhart
The Wedding Night (16-Mar-1935)
Private Worlds (9-Mar-1935)
Broadway Bill (21-Nov-1934)
The Captain Hates the Sea (22-Oct-1934) · Janet Grayson
Let’s Try Again (22-Jun-1934) · Ann
The Life of Vergie Winters (13-Jun-1934)
The Kennel Murder Case (28-Oct-1933) · Doris Delafield
The Power and the Glory (6-Oct-1933) · Eve Borden
Midnight Club (29-Jul-1933)
The Little Giant (14-Apr-1933) · Polly Cass
Grand Slam (22-Feb-1933) · Lola
Lawyer Man (24-Dec-1932) · Barbara
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (19-Nov-1932) · Helen
They Call It Sin (20-Oct-1932) · Enid Hollister
Two Against the World (3-Sep-1932) · Corinne Walton
Jewel Robbery (23-Jul-1932) · Marianne