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Valerie Leslie

Valerie Leslie

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Joan Leslie was an American actress who appeared in over 50 films throughout the 1940s and '50s, including the Golden Age classics "High Sierra" (1941), "Sergeant York" (1941), and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942). Leslie was born in Highland, Michigan in 1925, but never set out to become an actress. In fact, her mother, who was an accomplished pianist, had her young daughter learn how to play a number of musical instruments at a very young age, including the banjo, saxophone and the accordion. Leslie had a relatively stress-free early life until the Great Depression sunk her family, like most, into a pit of financial distress. With no work and no options to work, Leslie's father had Joan and her two young sisters embark on a career in vaudeville in order to make ends meet. Joan quickly became the standout of the three for her spot-on impressions of such iconic actors of the day, including Katharine Hepburn. It wasn't long before a Hollywood talent scout took notice and signed the 11-year-old to a contract with MGM. Over the next few years Leslie appeared in a number of films in uncredited roles, including "Camille" (1936), "Men with Wings" (1938), and "Love Affair" (1939). Leslie was eventually dropped...

Joan Leslie was an American actress who appeared in over 50 films throughout the 1940s and '50s, including the Golden Age classics "High Sierra" (1941), "Sergeant York" (1941), and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942). Leslie was born in Highland, Michigan in 1925, but never set out to become an actress. In fact, her mother, who was an accomplished pianist, had her young daughter learn how to play a number of musical instruments at a very young age, including the banjo, saxophone and the accordion. Leslie had a relatively stress-free early life until the Great Depression sunk her family, like most, into a pit of financial distress. With no work and no options to work, Leslie's father had Joan and her two young sisters embark on a career in vaudeville in order to make ends meet. Joan quickly became the standout of the three for her spot-on impressions of such iconic actors of the day, including Katharine Hepburn. It wasn't long before a Hollywood talent scout took notice and signed the 11-year-old to a contract with MGM. Over the next few years Leslie appeared in a number of films in uncredited roles, including "Camille" (1936), "Men with Wings" (1938), and "Love Affair" (1939). Leslie was eventually dropped from her contract at MGM, but was quickly signed by Warner Bros. It was during her contract at Warner that Leslie appeared in some of her best-known films, including "High Sierra," "Sergeant York," and "This Is the Army" (1943), the latter of which also starred future President Ronald Reagan. Leslie was dropped from Warner in 1946 after a dispute with the studio over the types of roles she was being offered, and despite appearing in a number of films (mostly B-movies) in the late '40s and early '50s, never regained the prestige of her early '40s heyday. She all but gave up acting after 1956's "The Revolt of Mamie Stover" to raise her children, appearing only on a few TV shows in the ensuing decades. Leslie's last credited screen role was in the 1991 made-for-TV movie "Fire in the Dark." Leslie died at her home in Los Angeles on October 12, 2015. She was 90.

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