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May Wynn Profile

May Wynn
May Wynn
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(Donna Lee Hickey)
8 January 28 is born in New York City, the daughter of a vaudevillian
? has her first love with the tallest boy in the neighborhood in her hometown of Elmhurst, Long Island
? debuts at New York's Copacabana at age 17
? talent scouts pass her up because she is too young for the movies
? as Donna Lee Hickey, she's crowned "Miss American Legion," "Miss Miami Beach," "Miss Fire Fighter," and "Miss See"
8 January 50 is chosen from among hundreds of competitors for the title of "Queen of the New York Press Photographers' Ball of 1950." She will reign at the ball on February 3.
November 50 says: "I want to get married. I've won beauty contests. I have a good job dancing at the Copacabana. I got movie offers and stage offers and television offers, but none of them include marriage." She stands five feet, six inches tall, and weighs 112 pounds. She wants a man between 30 and 38. He can earn $50 or $500 a week; it doesn't matter, she says. But he must be ambitious, honest, sincere and considerate. "Is that asking too much?"
? goes to Hollywood and unsuccessfully tours the studios. She is about to head east when she discovers a letter she had mislaid. It is a note of introduction from 20th Century-Fox's New York talent scout to William Gordon of the studio's casting department. Gordon gives her a contract.
April 51 columnist Earl Wilson reports that she passed her MGM screen test sensationally
August 51 lands a part in MGM's upcoming Skirts Ahoy!
November 51 20th Century-Fox tests her for a long-term contract and snatches her for their upcoming The Girl Next Door. Later she remembers: "I didn't even work during my last six months there. Every week I hired a taxi, drove to the studio, picked upon my check and drove home. They said they would hire me for another year at the same salary. I said no thanks."
? takes off for Las Vegas, Nevada, where she is seen by Max Arnow, Columbia's talent head. He wanted to sign her before, but he couldn't locate her. He tests her for From Here to Eternity, but she loses out to Donna Reed.
November 52 columnist Jimmy Fidler heralds that she has a better figure than Marilyn Monroe and comments "Well. It's your turn to say something..."
is among 16 film stars planning a trip to Korea. The others are Paul Douglas, Jan Sterling, Richard Allan, Walter Pidgeon, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Ruick, Peggy King, Carleton Carpenter, Carolina Cotton, Beverly Tyler, Bill Shirley, Pat Moran, Jack O'Connor, Rory Calhoun, and Lita Baron. 15 others will be added to the group by the date of the take-off.
19 December 52 her troupe takes off for a 10-day-tour of the Far East to entertain US troops over the Christmas holiday
? Stanley Kramer, producer of The Caine Mutiny, decides that her own name has to go. There hasn't been a May on the screen since the days of May McEvoy and Mae Murray, so he changes her name to May Wynn, from the nightclub singer she plays in his film. He considers May Wynn also good because it can't be mispronounced.
Early June 53 filming of The Caine Mutiny starts in Yosemite Valley, where her romance with Willie Keith, played by Robert Francis, takes place. Then the company will spend a few days in San Francisco, where the USS Thompson will be used.
June 53 the press warns that there will be romance items about her and Robert Francis, both in The Caine Mutiny and both young and unattached
columnist Louella Parsons reports that actor Peter Lawford is seeing her. "They were a dinner twosome Friday night at Romanoff's."
July 53 she and fellow newcomer Merv Griffin, both in Western garb, attend a party at the Mocambo
54 does a promo pictorial with Bob Francis for The Caine Mutiny
December 54 Frank Sinatra squires her to Gilmore's
January 55 declares that she will start the new year "heart-whole and fancy free"
has a big promo layout in Movie Life magazine with Kim Novak in Columbia’s wardrobe department
shares her apartment with many aspiring actresses
February 55 she and Joe Kirkwood, Jr., discover each other. Kirkwood is shedding his mate, actress Cathy Downs.
Mid-March 55 she and Joe Kirkwood, Jr., are at Tom Arden's opening at the Mocambo. Other ringsiders are Bob Calhoun and Marian Carr, Bob Neal and Barbara Lockhart, and the Harry Jamesons.
April 55 young actor Robert Francis escorts her to a booth at Romanoff's
Summer 55 is on the beach for a Modern Screen publicity layout with Robert Francis, Kim Novak and Scott Brady
3 August 55 attends the funeral service held at Forest Lawn, Hollywood, for Robert Francis, the 25-year-old actor who was killed along with with two others in the crash of a light private plane on July 31. Fellow attendees are Jeff Donnell, Jack Lemmon, and Vince Edwards.
October 55 columnist Walter Winchell reports that "May Wynn's fella and Kim Novak's fiancé trust Frank Sinatra as O. Baby Sitter when they leave town..."
December 55 attends The Thalians' show at Ciro's, alone
56 marries young actor Jack Kelly, her co-star in They Rode West
January 56 attends Frank Sinatra's bon voyage party at Hollywood's Villa Capri restaurant
End January 56 Winchell notes "the New York ad exec and the Coaster fighting over the affections of May Wynn..."
February 56 Reed Sherman is among the pursuitors trying to win her
March 56 is heralded television's newest young star. "She has her eighth TV assignment in the three months since she left Columbia."
September 56 announces that she will move soon from her Hollywood apartment into a house in the San Fernando Valley
14 October 56 marries actor Jack Kelly, brother of Broadway actress Nancy Kelly, in Quartzide, Arizona. The ceremony is performed by a justice of the peace at 2 a.m. Later in the day, they return to Hollywood. He's 29; she's 28. The press gives her age as 26. It's the first marriage for each. About the surprise wedding the press notes that six days before the elopement, she told a magazine writer: "Marriage isn't for me. I'm a career girl."
10 November 56 she and Kelly have their church ceremony
November 56 remembers meeting Marilyn Monroe for the first time when they were stock girls at 20th Century-Fox: "Someone introduced us in the wardrobe department. Marilyn had her back to me. She answered the introduction by turning slowly. It was fantastic. Each part of her moved by itself."
c. mid-57 follows her husband to the Far East just to be with him for the filming of his Hong Kong Incident. Once over there, she has to step in and to play the female lead because the Hong Kong actress engaged for the part can't handle the English dialogue.
December 57 she and Kelly are the latest Hollywoodites to buy a home in Palm Springs
January 58 she and Kelly put the finishing touches on a "Maverick" script for Warner Brothers, the TV hit he stars in
March 58 confesses to address her spouse lovingly as "Kelly" because she says he doesn't seem like "Jack" to her
May 58 she and Kelly visit New York City. He's a native of Astoria, New York.
November 58 she and Kelly reside in Studio City, California
3 December 58 she and her husband guest at the Los Angeles Press Club's "gang dinner"
May 59 she and Kelly dine with columnist Earl Wilson at Danny's Hideaway. There she tells Wilson: "Did you ever hear how I got the name of May Wynn? I was good and mad about it when I heard they were going to change my name to May Wynn because that was the name of the girl I was to play in The Caine Mutiny. So I was all set for Harry Cohn whose idea I heard it was. The day he called me in I was boiling mad. He said 'What's all this bit about changing your name to May Wynn? I think it's a horrible name.' I was so obstinate and so mad I shouted 'I love the name!' He said 'All right, your name's May Wynn.' Two days later I went to him on bended knee and said I'd made a mistake but he said 'You were such a smart aleck, your name is staying May Wynn.' And it has until now."
June 59 she and Kelly will take an early vacation at the Hawaiian Village Hotel in Honolulu, with a stop-off in San Francisco before returning to work
columnist Hedda Hopper reports that she and Jack are busy writing a cookbook
November 59 tells columnist Harrison Carroll that she and Jack are celebrating their third wedding anniversary on two days, October 14 and November 10
April 60 she and Kelly plan a summer tour and take piano lessons at home
May 60 she and Kelly form their own independent film company, Majak Productions. They hope to make a film version in England of a novel entitled The Trouble with Paradise.
October 60 she and her husband Jack Kelly are shopping for a larger house
December 62 columnist Earl Wilson reports that she and Kelly are writing a Broadway show
24 February 64 the Kellys separate
July 64 despite the fact that their marriage has been regarded as one of the happiest in Hollywood, she and Jack Kelly announce a trial separation. He's off for a stage show in Chicago; she may resume acting.
19 October 64 divorces Kelly in Los Angeles. They have no children. She testifies that he stayed out all night several times. "When I asked where he had been, he would say it was none of my business," she says.
columnist Dorothy Kilgallen reports that Kelly's lawyer reached an out-of-court settlement in his divorce case with May
August 68 columnist Earl Wilson reports "Donna Lee Hickey May Wynn Kelly visited the Copa and said: 'I used to dance right over there!'"
3 October 68 marries Jack W. Custer in Orange County. Both are 40.
October 75 in the New York Times, Peters Andrews asks: "The back lots of Hollywood are salted down with the bones of performers who crashed through as stars in their first movie after a nation-wide talent search only to be forgotten. Has anyone heard from Rudolph Valentino's look alike, Anthony Dexter, lately? And what ever happened to May Wynn since The Caine Mutiny?"
30 January 79 divorces Custer in California
January 03 attends the Hollywood Collectors & Celebrities Show in North Hollywood
? as Donna L. Custer, she resides in Newport Beach, California
Sources:
Picture Show Who's Who on the Screen, Modern Screen, Movie Annual of 1954, Screen Stories, Photoplay, Movie Show, Silver Screen, Screenland, The New York Times, The Lima News, The Daily Register, Mansfield News-Journal, The Monessen Daily Independent, Syracuse Herald-Journal, The Times Recorder, The Era, Nevada State Journal, Redlands Daily Post, The Kerrville Times, Pottstown Mercury, The Lethbridge Herald, Indiana Evening Gazette, Oakland Tribune, The Odessa American, The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, The Vidette-Messenger, Bismarck Tribune, Great Bend Daily Tribune, The Coshocton Tribune, Van Nuys News, Daily Intelligencer, Denton Journal, The Charleroi Mail, Classic Images, www.Ancestry.com
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