biography

Born on July 17, 1920, in Worcester, Massachusetts, pretty Helen Walker aspired to be an actress from an early age. As a young adult, Walker made her way to New York, landing a role on Broadway in the drama Jason in 1942. During the run of the play, she was spotted by Paramount talent scouts, who put her under contract in 1942 and soon cast her in a starring role in the noirish comedy Lucky Jordan (1942; with Alan Ladd and Marie McDonald). Although she was being cast in starring roles, increasingly Walker became frustrated with the films offered to her, and she began turning down scripts. Rather than putting her on suspension, which was the usual way studios punished actors, instead Paramount fired the actress outright. Walker turned to freelancing in B movies such as the Republic mystery Murder in the Music Hall (1946; with Vera Ralston), before signing with 20th Century Fox in 1946. She seemed poised for a great film career. However, on December 31, 1946, Walker was driving to Los Angeles from Palm Springs and picked up three servicemen who were hitchhiking. She lost control of her convertible and flipped it, killing one of the servicemen and seriously injuring herself and the other two servicemen. Walker was released from the hospital in February 1947, but the ensuing publicity damaged her career. The two surviving servicemen accused her of being drunk and driving too fast. Eventually, Walker was acquitted of all charges, but her image was tainted in the public eye. A seemingly clever switch from girl-next-door roles to femme fatales in such film noir thrillers as Impact (1949; with Brian Donlevy and Ella Raines) and Problem Girls (1953; with Susan Morrow and Beverly Garland) failed to revive her career.

the films of helen walker

Lucky Jordan (1942)

Alan Ladd and Helen WalkerHelen Walker, Alan Ladd, and Marie McDonald

LEFT: With Alan Ladd in Paramount's noir comedy Lucky Jordan. RIGHT: With Alan Ladd and Marie McDonald

Abroad with Two Yanks (1944)

Helen WalkerDennis O'Keefe, Helen Walker, and William Bendix

LEFT: As Joyce Stuart in the wartime comedy Abroad with Two Yanks. RIGHT: With costars Dennis O'Keefe and William Bendix

Brewster's Millions (1945)

Helen Walker, Mischa Auer, June Havoc, Dennis O'Keefe, Gail Patrick, and Eddie Rochester Anderson

From the comedy Brewster's Millions with Mischa Auer, June Havoc, Dennis O'Keefe, Gail Patrick, and Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson

Murder, He Says (1945)

Fred MacMurray and Helen WalkerHelen Walker

LEFT: With Fred MacMurray in the Paramount comedy Murder, He Says. RIGHT: Walker as Claire Matthews

Cluny Brown (1946)

Reginald Owen, Charles Boyer, Peter Lawford, Helen Walker, and Margaret Bannerman

From the 20th Century Fox romantic comedy Cluny Brown with Reginald Owen, Charles Boyer, Peter Lawford, Helen Walker, and Margaret Bannerman

Her Adventurous Night (1946)

Herb Vigran, Dennis O'Keefe, and Helen Walker

With Herb Vigran and Dennis O'Keefe in the Universal comedy Her Adventurous Night

People Are Funny (1946)

Jack Haley, Phillip Reed, Helen Walker, and Ozzie Nelson

With Jack Haley, Phillip Reed, and Ozzie Nelson in the Paramount musical People Are Funny

Nightmare Alley (1947)

Helen WalkerHelen Walker and Tyrone Power

From the 20th Century Fox film noir classic Nightmare Alley. LEFT: Walker portrays psychologist Lilith Ritter. RIGHT: With carnie/mentalist Tyrone Power

My Dear Secretary (1948)

Kirk Douglas and Helen WalkerKeenan Wynn, Helen Walker, and Kirk Douglas

LEFT: With Kirk Douglas in the comedy My Dear Secretary, released by United Artists. RIGHT: With Keenan Wynn and Kirk Douglas

Impact (1949)

Helen Walker

From the film noir thriller Impact

My True Story (1951)

Helen WalkerHelen Walker and Willard Parker

LEFT: As jewel thief Ann Martin in the Columbia film noir thriller My True Story. RIGHT: With Willard Parker

later years

Although she was a skilled actress, Walker's career floundered in the 1950s, and a series of personal tragedies effectively ended her acting career. Her two brief marriages ended in divorce. She was arrested for DUI in the mid 1950s, and in 1959, she was diagnosed with cancer. To add insult to injury, in 1960 her Hollywood home burned. A number of celebrities, including Ruth Roman and Dinah Shore, held a benefit for Walker to financially assist her. By this time, alcoholism was also taking a toll on her health, and beyond stage work, Walker's career was finished at the age of 40. Sadly, after battling cancer and alcoholism for years, Helen Walker passed away on March 10, 1968, at 47 years of age in North Hollywood. She was survived by her mother.

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filmography

FILM
The Big Combo (1955) with Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy, Jean Wallace, Robert Middleton, Lee Van Cleef, and Earl Holliman
Problem Girls (1953) with Ross Elliott, Susan Morrow, Beverly Garland, Joyce Jameson, Nan Leslie, Mara Corday, and Tandra Quinn
My True Story (1951) with Willard Parker, Elisabeth Risdon, and Aldo Ray
Impact (1949) with Brian Donlevy, Ella Raines, Charles Coburn, and Anna May Wong
My Dear Secretary (1948) with Laraine Day, Kirk Douglas, Keenan Wynn, Rudy Vallee, Florence Bates, Alan Mowbray, Irene Ryan, and Grady Sutton
Call Northside 777 (1948) with James Stewart, Richard Conte, and Lee J. Cobb
Nightmare Alley (1947) with Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, and Mike Mazurki
The Homestretch (1947) with Cornel Wilde, Maureen O'Hara, and Glenn Langan
Her Adventurous Night (1946) with Dennis O'Keefe, Scotty Beckett, and Fuzzy Knight
Cluny Brown (1946) with Charles Boyer, Jennifer Jones, and Peter Lawford
Murder in the Music Hall (1946) with Vera Ralston, William Marshall, Nancy Kelly, Ann Rutherford, Julie Bishop, and Jerome Cowan
People Are Funny (1946) with Jack Haley, Rudy Vallee, Ozzie Nelson, Phillip Reed, Art Linkletter, Frances Langford, and Clara Blandick
Murder, He Says (1945) with Fred MacMurray, Marjorie Main, and Barbara Pepper
Brewster's Millions (1945) with Dennis O'Keefe, June Havoc, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Gail Patrick, and Mischa Auer
The Man in Half Moon Street (1945) with Nils Asther
Abroad with Two Yanks (1944) with William Bendix and Dennis O'Keefe
The Good Fellows (1943) with Cecil Kellaway and James Brown
Lucky Jordan (1942) with Alan Ladd, Sheldon Leonard, and Marie McDonald

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
Lock Up, episode Dead Man's Shoes, originally aired February 13, 1960
Lock Up, episode The Manly Art of Murder, originally aired January 2, 1960
The 20th Century-Fox Hour, episode The Marriage Broker, originally aired June 12, 1957
Dragnet, episode The Big Revision, originally aired March 22, 1956

helen walker film now showing

Watch Helen Walker in a 1960 episode of Lock Up
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This page premiered June 20, 2011.
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