Image of Frances Gifford

Frances Gifford

Frances Gifford had a somewhat unorthodox introduction to the movie business. Born and raised in Long Beach, California, she had no ambition to be an actress, and in fact had applied to UCLA when, at age 16, she and a friend got to visit the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, where they watched a movie being shot. A studio exec saw her and asked if she would take a screen test. She did, the studio was impressed with the result and put her under contract. Nothing much came of it, however, other than bit parts, and she moved to RKO. Nothing much happened there, either. She had married actor James Dunn and decided to retire, which she did, in 1938. Off the screen for almost two years, she got a small part in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and her career began to revive. She was signed by Paramount, which soon loaned her to Republic, where she made the film she is probably most remembered for: the serial Jungle Girl (1941), based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs story. Unfortunately, her career never really took off, and she bounced around among several studios. In 1948 she was involved in an auto accident in which she received severe head injuries. Although she seemed to recover physically, her career took a nosedive, and she made her last film in 1953. In 1958 newspaper stories reported that as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident, she was admitted to a California state mental hospital. Nothing further was heard from her or about her until 1983, when a writer for a film magazine found her in Pasadena. She had apparently fully overcome her physical and mental problems and was working for the city library. She died of emphysema in Pasadena in 1994.

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Dec 7, 1919
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie New Faces of 1937 1937-07-02
Latest Project:
Movie Walt Disney's Fables - Vol.6 2004-05-31
Known For
Poster of General Electric Theater
Poster of The Arnelo Affair
Poster of West Point Widow
Poster of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Movie Walt Disney's Fables - Vol.6 Doris 2004-05-31
Series General Electric Theater Unknown 1953-02-01
Movie Sky Commando Jo McWethy 1953-08-21
Movie Riding High Margaret Higgins 1950-04-12
Movie Luxury Liner Laura Dene 1948-11-09
Movie The Arnelo Affair Anne Parkson 1947-02-13
Movie Little Mister Jim Jean Tukker 1947-04-01
Movie Thrill of a Romance Maude Bancroft 1945-05-23
Movie Our Vines Have Tender Grapes Viola Johnson 1945-09-06
Movie She Went to the Races Dr. Ann Wotters 1945-11-04
Movie Twenty Years After Unknown 1944-01-01
Movie Marriage Is a Private Affair Sissy Mortimer 1944-08-23
Movie Tarzan Triumphs Zandra 1943-01-20
Movie Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour Hilary Dane 1943-04-30
Movie Cry 'Havoc' Helen 1943-11-23
Movie The Remarkable Andrew Miss Halsey 1942-03-05
Movie Star Spangled Rhythm Frances Gifford (uncredited) 1942-03-05
Movie Tombstone: The Town too Tough to Die Ruth Grant 1942-06-13
Movie The Glass Key Nurse 1942-09-08
Movie Beyond the Blue Horizon Charlotte (uncredited) 1942-06-25
Movie American Empire Abigail 'Abby' Taylor, Dan's Sister 1942-12-11
Movie My Heart Belongs to Daddy Grace Saunders 1942-11-07
Movie Border Vigilantes Helen Forbes 1941-04-18
Movie The Reluctant Dragon Doris 1941-06-19
Movie Jungle Girl Nyoka Meredith 1941-06-21
Movie West Point Widow Daphne 1941-06-20
Movie Forty Little Mothers Granville Girl 1940-04-26
Movie Hold That Woman! Mary Mulvaney 1940-06-28
Movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Hopper Girl (uncredited) 1939-10-19
Movie Mercy Plane Brenda Gordon 1939-12-04
Movie Night Spot Nightclub Patron 1938-02-25
Movie Having Wonderful Time Salesgirl (uncredited) 1938-07-01
Movie New Faces of 1937 Showgirl 1937-07-02
Movie Living on Love Bus Passenger 1937-11-12
Movie There Goes the Groom Undetermined Role (uncredited) 1937-10-29