Born in Chile to English parents on August 17, 1918, beautiful actress Evelyn Ankers found fame in the 1940s as Universal's reigning scream queen. Upon her parents' relocation to England in the 1920s, Ankers began harboring a desire to act. By the time she completed her studies in school in the mid 1930s, Ankers was landing small roles in British film productions, including Fire Over England (1937; with Raymond Massey) and Bells of St. Mary's (1937). Even in these small parts, Ankers beauty and talent shined through, so much that she soon was cast in starring roles in the low budget crime dramas The Villiers Diamond (1938) and The Claydon Treasure Mystery (1938). With these early successes, the young actress crossed the Atlantic and headed for Hollywood, where she signed with Universal in 1940. The studio cast her in the highly successful comedy-horror release Hold That Ghost (1941; with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello) and the classic horror film The Wolf Man (1941; with Lon Chaney Jr.), thus beginning Ankers' association with Universal's popular horror franchises. In 1942, Ankers married handsome B-movie lead Richard Denning. While he went off to war, Ankers' signature blood-curdling scream heightened the tension in such horror flicks as The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942; with Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi), The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944; with Jon Hall), and The Frozen Ghost (1945; with Lon Chaney Jr.).

Evelyn AnkersEvelyn Ankers

Pretty 1940s pinups of Evelyn Ankers

After the war, Ankers' career began to dim as Universal's monster movies went out of favor with audiences. She left the studio in 1945 and freelanced at PRC, Republic, and Columbia, mainly in mysteries and dramas. She also acted with husband Richard Denning in the 20th Century Fox release Black Beauty (1946). By 1950, Ankers had settled into married life and motherhood and walked away from her film career.

the films of evelyn ankers

Burma Convoy (1941)

Evelyn Ankers, Keye Luke, Turhan Bey, and C. Montague ShawEvelyn Ankers and Turhan Bey

From the low-budget Universal adventure Burma Convoy. LEFT: With Keye Luke, Turhan Bey, and C. Montague Shaw. RIGHT: Turhan Bey romances Evelyn Ankers

Hold That Ghost (1941)

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

From the Universal comedy-horror flick Hold That Ghost with Richard Carlson, Bud Abbott, Joan Davis, and Lou Costello

The Wolf Man (1941)

Lon Chaney Jr.Lon Chaney Jr.

With Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man, in Universal's classic The Wolf Man

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Evelyn Ankers and Lon Chaney Jr.Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney Jr., and Bela Lugosi

In Universal's entertaining The Ghost of Frankenstein, Evelyn Ankers gets carried around so much that she should have come with a handle. LEFT: Ankers recoils from Lon Chaney Jr. as Frankenstein's monster. RIGHT: With Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi as Ygor

North to the Klondike (1942)

Lon Chaney Jr., Evelyn Ankers, and Dorothy Granger

With Lon Chaney Jr. and Dorothy Granger in Universal's adventure North to the Klondike

Pierre of the Plains (1942)

Ruth Hussey, John Carroll, Evelyn Ankers, and Bruce Cabot

Ankers was loaned out to MGM for the drama Pierre of the Plains. Pictured are Ruth Hussey, John Carroll, Ankers, and Bruce Cabot

Captive Wild Woman (1943)

John Carradine, Evelyn Ankers, and Crash CorriganMilburn Stone and Evelyn Ankers

LEFT: Mad scientist John Carradine turns an eye to Evelyn Ankers and decides to transform gorilla Ray 'Crash' Corrigan into beautiful Acquanetta in Universal's campy horror flick Captive Wild Woman. RIGHT: Milburn Stone protects Evelyn Ankers

The Mad Ghoul (1943)

Evelyn Ankers and Turhan BeyEvelyn Ankers and Turhan Bey

From the fun Universal science fiction/horror film The Mad Ghoul with Evelyn Ankers

Son of Dracula (1943)

Robert Paige, Frank Craven, Louise Allbritton, and Evelyn Ankers

From Universal's Son of Dracula with Robert Paige, Frank Craven, and Louise Allbritton. Watch the theatrical trailer

The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944)

Evelyn Ankers and Alan Curtis

Ankers and Alan Curtis are terrified of The Invisible Man's Revenge

The Pearl of Death (1944)

Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, and Basil Rathbone

Ankers starred alongside Nigel Bruce and Basil Rathbone in the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Pearl of Death, released by Universal

Weird Woman (1944)

Lon Chaney Jr. and Evelyn Ankers

Ankers with frequent co-star Lon Chaney Jr. in Weird Woman, part of Universal's Inner Sanctum series of films

The Frozen Ghost (1945)

Evelyn Ankers and Lon Chaney Jr.

Ankers is hypnotized by Lon Chaney Jr. in Universal's The Frozen Ghost

Last of the Redmen (1947)

Evelyn Ankers and Jon Hall

With Jon Hall in the Columbia adventure Last of the Redmen

later years

After bowing out of films in 1950, while raising her daughter Ankers worked sporadically in the then-new medium of television, finally retiring from acting in the late 1950s. She and Richard Denning moved to Hawaii in the 1960s, and the couple enjoyed a marriage that lasted until her death from cancer on August 29, 1985, at the age of 67. She was survived by her husband, Richard Denning, a daughter, Diana, and two grandchildren.

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evelyn ankers trailers

Watch the theatrical trailer for Son of Dracula (1943)


The Texan Meets Calamity Jane (1950) with James Ellison and Grace Lee Whitney
Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949) with Lex Barker, Brenda Joyce, Albert Dekker, Charles Drake, and Alan Napier
Parole, Inc. (1948) with Michael O'Shea, Turhan Bey, and Lyle Talbot
The Lone Wolf in London (1947) with Gerald Mohr Eric Blore, and Alan Napier
Last of the Redmen (1947) with Jon Hall, Michael O'Shea, Julie Bishop, and Buster Crabbe
Spoilers of the North (1947) with Paul Kelly
Flight to Nowhere (1946) with Alan Curtis, Jack Holt, and Jerome Cowan
Black Beauty (1946) with Richard Denning and Mona Freeman
Queen of Burlesque (1946) with Carleton Young and Craig Reynolds
The French Key (1946) with Albert Dekker and Mike Mazurki
The Fatal Witness (1945) with Richard Fraser
The Frozen Ghost (1945) with Lon Chaney Jr., Elena Verdugo, and Milburn Stone
Pardon My Rhythm (1944) with Gloria Jean, Patric Knowles, and Mel Torme
Bowery to Broadway (1944) with Maria Montez, Jack Oakie, Turhan Bey, Ann Blyth, Louise Allbritton, Rosemary DeCamp, Leo Carrillo, Andy Devine, and George Dolenz
The Pearl of Death (1944) with Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, and Rondo Hatton
The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) with Jon Hall, Leon Errol, John Carradine, Alan Curtis, and Gale Sondergaard
Jungle Woman (1944) with J. Carrol Naish, Milburn Stone, and Acquanetta
Weird Woman (1944) with Lon Chaney Jr. and Anne Gwynne
Ladies Courageous (1944) with Loretta Young, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Anne Gwynne, Phillip Terry, and Kane Richmond
His Butler's Sister (1943) with Deanna Durbin and Franchot Tone
The Mad Ghoul (1943) with David Bruce, George Zucco, Robert Armstrong, Turhan Bey, and Milburn Stone
Son of Dracula (1943) with Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Paige, and Louise Allbritton
You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith (1943) with Allan Jones, Billie Burke, and David Bruce
Keep 'Em Slugging (1943) with Huntz Hall, Elyse Knox, Frank Albertson, Don Porter, Shemp Howard, and Milburn Stone
Hers to Hold (1943) with Deanna Durbin and Joseph Cotten
All by Myself (1943) with Rosemary Lane, Patric Knowles, Neil Hamilton, and Grant Mitchell
Captive Wild Woman (1943) with John Carradine, Milburn Stone, Acquanetta, Martha Vickers, and Ray 'Crash' Corrigan
The Great Impersonation (1942) with Ralph Bellamy
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) with Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, and Reginald Denny
Pierre of the Plains (1942) with John Carroll, Ruth Hussey, and Bruce Cabot
Eagle Squadron (1942) with Robert Stack, Diana Barrymore, Jon Hall, Eddie Albert, Nigel Bruce, Leif Erickson, Alan Hale Jr., and Don Porter
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) with Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, and Lionel Atwill
North to the Klondike (1942) with Broderick Crawford, Andy Devine, and Lon Chaney Jr.
The Wolf Man (1941) with Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya
Burma Convoy (1941) with Charles Bickford, Frank Albertson, Cecil Kellaway, and Turhan Bey
Hold That Ghost (1941) with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Richard Carlson, Joan Davis, Mischa Auer, Shemp Howard, and the Andrews Sisters
Hit the Road (1941) with Huntz Hall and Billy Halop
Bachelor Daddy (1941) with Edward Everett Horton and Franklin Pangborn
The Claydon Treasure Mystery (1938)
Coming of Age (1938)
Murder in the Family (1938) with Glynis Johns, Roddy McDowall, and Jessica Tandy
Second Thoughts (1938)
The Villiers Diamond (1938)
Bells of St. Mary's (1937)

Cheyenne, episode The Gamble, originally aired January 28, 1958
The 20th Century-Fox Hour, episode The Empty Room, originally aired May 30, 1956
Screen Directors Playhouse, episode The Silent Partner, originally aired December 21, 1955
The Star and the Story, episode Dark Stranger, originally aired January 8, 1955
The Adventures of Falcon, episode The Paper Finger, originally aired November 30, 1954
G.E. True Theater, episode The Hunted, originally aired November 15, 1953
Cavalcade of America, episode Sam and the Whale, originally aired September 29, 1953
Mr. & Mrs. North, episode The Nobles, originally aired December 19, 1952
Your Show Time, episode The Adventure of the Speckled Band, originally aired March 25, 1949

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Watch Evelyn Ankers' 1947 Republic drama Spoilers of the North
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This page premiered April 30, 2004.
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