The Lone Star State: Classic Movie Actors From Texas

As mentioned in my post from a few weeks ago about classic movie actors from Wisconsin, I decided to start a series highlighting the birth states of other well known classic movie stars, eventually covering the remaining 49 states over the course of this year. Not wanting to play favorites, I came up with a way to randomly assign a number order to the other states. So next up in the series . . . the Lone Star State, Texas.

Here are just a few stars from that state:

Joan Crawford

Born:  March 23, 1905 in San Antonio, TX

Died:  May 10, 1977 (aged 72)

Married five times including marriages to actors Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Franchot Tone

Known for the Movies: Grand Hotel, The Women, Mildred Pierce, Humoresque, Daisy Kenyon



Interesting Facts About Joan Crawford:

  • Her real name was Lucille Le Sueur. MGM did not feel that was a fitting name for a star so they held a contest in Photoplay magazine asking readers to vote on a new name for her, which is how she became known as Joan Crawford. In private however, she preferred to be called by her childhood nickname, Billie.
  • She married the Chairman of the Board of the Pepsi-Cola Co. in 1956 and continued on as an executive and spokesman for the company even after her husband died in 1959.
  • She was Fred Astaire’s first onscreen dance partner, appearing with him in the movie Dancing Lady (1933).

Debbie Reynolds

Born:  April 1, 1932 in El Paso, TX

Still Living

Married three times with her most publicized marriage being to Eddie Fisher

Known for the Movies: Singin’ in the Rain, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, The Unsinkable Molly Brown



Interesting Facts About Debbie Reynolds:

  • Her movie career started at age 16 after winning the Miss Burbank beauty contest and being discovered by talent scouts from Warner Brothers. Her first name was then changed from Mary Frances to Debbie.
  • She was not a dancer before she was selected to be Gene Kelly’s partner in the movie Singin’ in the Rain (1952).
  • She is one of only a few actresses who danced with both Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.

Cyd Charisse

Born:  March 8, 1921 in Amarillo, TX

Died: June 17, 2008 (aged 86)

Married twice including a 60 year marriage to singer and actor Tony Martin, who is still alive today at age 97

Known for the Movies: Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Brigadoon, Silk Stockings



Interesting Facts About Cyd Charisse:

  • Along with Debbie Reynolds, she had the distinction of dancing with both Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Unlike Debbie, she was a dancer nearly all her life.
  • She had her legs insured for $5 million in 1952.
  • She was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in March 2002.

Ann Sheridan

Born:  February 1, 1915 in Denton, TX

Died: January 21, 1967 (aged 51)

Married three times, all to fellow actors; Edward Norris, George Brent, and Scott McKay

Known for the Movies: Angels with Dirty Faces, They Drive By Night, Kings Row, I Was a Male War Bride



Interesting Facts About Ann Sheridan:

  • In a situation similar to Debbie Reynolds, she earned a contract with Paramount after winning a contest called “Search for Beauty”. She was 19 at the time.
  • She was given the nickname “the oomph girl”, a name she absolutely hated.
  • The Fashion Academy of New York named her one of the eight best dressed women in America in 1952.

Tex Ritter

Born:  January 12, 1905 in Murvaul, TX

Died: January 2, 1974 (aged 68)

Married once

Known for the Movies: Trouble in Texas and numerous other westerns

Interesting Facts About Tex Ritter:

  • He was the father of actor John Ritter.
  • He sang the title track to the movie High Noon (1952), which won the Academy Award for Best Song.
  • He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1964.

Gene Autry

Born:  September 29, 1907 in Near Tioga, TX

Died: October 2, 1998 (aged 91)

Married twice including a 48 year marriage which ended with the death of his first wife and a 17 year marriage which ended with his death in 1998

Known for the Movies: In Old Santa Fe and numerous “singing cowboy” westerns
Interesting Facts About Gene Autry:

  • He wrote over 200 songs including the popular holiday song “Here Comes Santa Claus”.
  • He was awarded five different stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame; for recording, movies, TV, radio, and live theater.
  • Okay, so this one will probably only mean something to me, but he shared the same birth date (September 29th) as my mom, who just happened to be one of his biggest fans. :-)

Other Actors from the state of Texas

With the state of Texas being as large as it is, it wasn’t surprising that there were many other actors and actresses I could have chosen including Guy Kibbee, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Miller, Linda Darnell, Kathryn Grant, and Mary Martin. What did come as a surprise to me was the small number of big name male stars. Most of them were female and many of the men I did find were probably more well known for their singing than their acting abilities.

If I missed any of your favorite actors or actresses from Texas, let me know!

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  1. […] of fell off my pace, waaayyy off my pace. I only ended up covering ten states overall; Wisconsin, Texas, Indiana, Massachusetts, Colorado, Georgia, Connecticut, Nebraska, Utah, and Montana. So it will […]

  2. John says:

    I always loved Ann Sheridan as an actress. Interesting fact was that she worked on the films, The Man Who Came To Dinner and Kings Row simultaneously. She would be on one set in the morning and then the other set in the afternoon. Playing such two contrasting roles and giving two great performances was quite an achievement.

    I always liked her with Cagney. They did three films together with Torrid Zone being the forgettable one. She is very good as James Cagney’s love interest in both Angels With Dirty Faces and City For Conquest. Two of my favorite Cagney films.

    One hidden gem people might enjoy is It All Came True where she is paired with Humphrey Bogart. The Doughgirls is a pretty silly film but any film with Jack Carson is well worth a try.

    Sad fact that Ann was a chain smoker and died very young. When hearing about her cancer, Cagney said, “She never had a chance.” Ann Sheridan an actress who deserves more credit than she receives today. Classic film fans surely miss her.