biography

Born Dorothy Ellen Quackenbush in Portland, Oregon, on January 16, 1916 (some sources cite her birthday as June 22, 1915), actress Wanda McKay grew up in Texas and Missouri. While living in Missouri, McKay embarked upon a modeling career, eventually becoming a familiar face on billboards and magazine covers. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, she became Transcontinental Airline's official model hostess when she won the title "Miss American Aviation" in 1938. This exposure got McKay noticed by Paramount talent scouts, who signed her to a contract in 1939.

Wanda McKay

Paramount publicity photo of Wanda McKay from the late 1930s

McKay toiled, mostly uncredited, in more than a dozen Paramount releases between 1939 and 1941. After her contract with the studio ended, McKay headed to Columbia to make a couple of westerns including The Royal Mounted Patrol (1941; with Charles Starrett and Lloyd Bridges) before going to Monogram and Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Although these were poverty-row studios, McKay finally had starring roles. A number of McKay's films were from the horror genre, including Bowery at Midnight (1942; with Bela Lugosi, Tom Neal, and John Archer), The Black Raven (1943; with George Zucco and Robert Livingston), Voodoo Man (1944; with Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, and George Zucco), and The Monster Maker (1944; J. Carrol Naish and Ralph Morgan). Following World War II, horror films lost favor with audiences, and at the same time McKay's career began to go into decline.

the films of wanda mckay

Twilight on the Trail (1941)

Brad King and Wanda McKay

With Brad King in the western Twilight on the Trail, released by Paramount

One Thrilling Night (1942)

John Beal and Wanda McKay

From the Monogram comedy/mystery One Thrilling Night with John Beal

Danger! Women at Work (1943)

Wanda McKay, Isabel Jewell, Betty Compson, Cobina Wright Sr., Mary Brian, and Patsy Kelly

From the PRC wartime comedy Danger! Women at Work with Isabel Jewell, Betty Compson, Cobina Wright Sr., Mary Brian, and Patsy Kelly

The Monster Maker (1944)

Wanda McKay and Terry Frost

With Terry Frost in the PRC horror flick The Monster Maker

Voodoo Man (1944)

Louise Currie, Wanda McKay, John Carradine, Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, Ellen Hall, and Terry Walker

From Monogram's horror flick Voodoo Man with Louise Currie, John Carradine, Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, Ellen Hall, and Terry Walker

There Goes Kelly (1945)

Sidney Miller, Wanda McKay, and Jackie Moran

With Sidney Miller and Jackie Moran in the Monogram comedy There Goes Kelly

Kilroy Was Here (1947)

Wanda McKay, Patti Brill, Jackie Cooper, Pat Goldin, and Jackie Coogan

From the Monogram Pictures comedy Kilroy Was Here with Patti Brill, Jackie Cooper, Pat Goldin, and Jackie Coogan

The Golden Eye (1948)

Wanda McKay, Roland Winters, Lois Austin, and Bruce Kellogg

From Monogram's late 1940s Charlie Chan series The Golden Eye with Roland Winters, Lois Austin, and Bruce Kellogg

Because of Eve (1948)

Wanda McKayJohn Parker, Wanda McKay, and Joseph Crehan

LEFT: McKay as Sally Stephens in the independently produced campy cautionary tale Because of Eve. RIGHT: With John Parker, Sally's husband and VD carrier, and Joseph Crehan

Jungle Goddess (1948)

George Reeves

From Lippert's low-budget adventure Jungle Goddess with George Reeves and Ralph Byrd. This film aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000 during season two

later years

McKay's career hit the skids by 1950, when she slid back into uncredited roles. Her last credited film role is the low-budget crime drama Roaring City (1951; with Hugh Beaumont). After a few roles in early television series, McKay called a halt to her acting career. In the early 1950s, McKay formed a construction company with her brother, building homes in southern California. With a failed marriage behind her, in 1962 McKay met famed composer Hoagy Carmichael, becoming his constant companion. They eventually married in May 1977, with the union lasting until Carmichael's death in December 1981. Sadly, Wanda McKay passed away on April 11, 1996, at the age of 80. She was survived by a son.

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filmography

FILM
Roaring City (1951) with Hugh Beaumont and Greg McClure
The Golden Eye (1948) with Roland Winters, Mantan Moreland, Victor Sen Yung, Tim Ryan, and Evelyn Brent
Jungle Goddess (1948) with George Reeves, Ralph Byrd, Armida, and Smoki Whitfield; once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
Jinx Money (1948) with Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Sheldon Leonard, and Donald MacBride
Stage Struck (1948) with Kane Richmond, Audrey Long, Conrad Nagel, Ralph Byrd, and Evelyn Brent
Because of Eve (1948)
Jiggs and Maggie in Society (1947) with Joe Yule, Renie Riano, Tim Ryan, and Lee Bonnell
Kilroy Was Here (1947) with Jackie Cooper, Jackie Coogan, Sid Melton, and Gil Stratton
Club Paradise (1945) with Robert Lowery, Doris Merrick, Eddie Quillan, Isabel Jewell, Nestor Paiva, and Minerva Urecal
Hollywood and Vine (1945) with James Ellison, Ralph Morgan, and Franklin Pangborn
There Goes Kelly (1945) with Jackie Moran and Dewey Robinson
Belle of the Yukon (1944) with Randolph Scott, Gypsy Rose Lee, Dinah Shore, William Marshall, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, and Robert Armstrong
Leave It to the Irish (1944) with James Dunn, Jack La Rue, Dick Purcell, and Barbara Woodell
Raiders of Ghost City (1944) with Dennis Moore, Lionel Atwill, Regis Toomey, and Virginia Christine
The Monster Maker (1944) with J. Carrol Naish, Ralph Morgan, and Glenn Strange
Voodoo Man (1944) with Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, George Zucco, and Tod Andrews
What a Man! (1944) with Johnny Downs, Robert Kent, and Lillian Bronson
Smart Guy (1943) with Rick Vallin, Veda Ann Borg, Bobby Larson, and Jack La Rue
The Deerslayer (1943) with Bruce Kellogg, Jean Parker, Larry Parks, Yvonne De Carlo, and Addison Richards
Danger! Women at Work (1943) with Patsy Kelly, Mary Brian, Isabel Jewell, and Betty Compson
The Black Raven (1943) with George Zucco, Robert Livingston, Byron Foulger, Charles Middleton, Robert Middlemass, and Glenn Strange
Corregidor (1943) with Otto Kruger, Donald Woods, and Rick Vallin
Bowery at Midnight (1942) with Bela Lugosi, John Archer, Tom Neal, and Dave O'Brien
Law and Order (1942) with Buster Crabbe, Al St. John, Dave O'Brien, and Kenne Duncan
One Thrilling Night (1942) with John Beal, Barbara Pepper, and Tom Neal
The Lone Rider in Texas Justice (1942) with George Houston, Al St. John, and Arch Hall Sr.
Rolling Down the Great Divide (1942) with Glenn Strange
The Royal Mounted Patrol (1941) with Charles Starrett, Russell Hayden, Donald Curtis, and Lloyd Bridges
Twilight on the Trail (1941) with William Boyd and Andy Clyde
The Pioneers (1941) with Tex Ritter
You're the One (1941) with Albert Dekker, Edward Everett Horton, and Jerry Colonna
Dancing on a Dime (1940) with Peter Lind Hayes, Eddie Quillan, Virginia Dale, William Frawley, and Phillip Terry
All Women Have Secrets (1939) with Virginia Dale, Jeanne Cagney, Peter Lind Hayes, Janet Waldo, Joyce Mathews, and Veronica Lake

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
The Lone Ranger, episode Word of Honor, originally aired November 27, 1952
The Cisco Kid, episode Ride On, originally aired November 19, 1951
The Cisco Kid, episode Medicine Man Show, originally aired October 8, 1951
The Lone Ranger, episode Trouble at Black Rock, originally aired February 8, 1951
The Range Rider, episode The Golden Peso, originally aired 1951
The Range Rider, episode The Grand Fleece, originally aired 1951
The Lone Ranger, episode Paid in Full, originally aired December 28, 1950

wanda mckay film now showing

Watch Wanda McKay's 1942 Monogram horror flick Bowery at Midnight


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