Bonita Granville

Bonita Granville

from the trailer for the film
The Beloved Brat (1938)
Born (1923-02-02)February 2, 1923
New York City, U.S.
Died October 11, 1988(1988-10-11) (aged 65)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City
Occupation Actress
Years active 1932–1981
Spouse(s) Jack Wrather (1947–1984; his death)
Children Molly Wrather (step-daughter)
Jack Wrather III (1944–1973) (stepson)
Linda Wrather
Christopher Wrather

Bonita Granville (February 2, 1923 – October 11, 1988) was an American film actress and television producer.[1] She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1936 for her performance in These Three.

Early life

She was born on February 2, 1923 in New York City, the daughter of Rosina (née Timponi 1892-1984)[2] and Bernard "Bunny" Granville. Both of her parents were stage performers.[1][3]

She made her film debut at the age of nine in Westward Passage (1933), and appeared that same year in a credited but nearly wordless supporting role as the young dancer Fanny Bridges in Cavalcade, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Over the next couple of years, she played uncredited supporting roles in such films as Little Women (1933) and Anne of Green Gables (1934). She next played the role of Mary Tilford in the 1936 film adaptation of Lillian Hellman's 1934 stage play The Children's Hour. Renamed These Three, the film told the story of three adults (played by Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, and Joel McCrea) who find their lives almost destroyed by the malicious lies of an evil attention-seeking child. For her role as that child, Granville was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, then the youngest person to be nominated for that award. Despite this success, and although she continued to work, the next few years brought her few opportunities to build her career.[4]

In 1938, she starred as the saucy mischievous daughter in the multi-Academy Awards nominated hit comedy film Merrily We Live and as girl detective Nancy Drew in the hit film Nancy Drew: Detective. The Nancy Drew film success led to Granville reprising the role in three sequels from 1938 to 1939, including Nancy Drew... Reporter (1939).

Later career

As a young adult, she was once again cast in supporting roles, often in prestigious films such as Now, Voyager (1942), as well as two Andy Hardy films with Mickey Rooney, Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble (1944) and Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (1946).[5] She is also remembered for her starring role in the World War II anti-Nazism film Hitler's Children (1943). Her career began to fade by the mid-1940s.

She was the heroine of the novel Bonita Granville and the Mystery of Star Island written by Kathryn Heisenfelt, published by Whitman Publishing Company in 1942. The novel's subtitle is "An original story featuring BONITA GRANVILLE famous motion-picture player as the heroine". The story was probably written for a young teenage audience and is reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. It is part of a series known as "Whitman Authorized Editions", 16 books published between 1941-1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.[6]

On February 5, 1947 Granville married Jack Wrather at the Bel-Air Hotel.[7] He had produced some of her films. He formed the Wrather Corporation, and bought the rights to characters from both The Lone Ranger and Lassie. Granville worked as a producer for several film and television productions featuring these characters, including the 1954 TV series Lassie. She appeared in the film version of The Lone Ranger in 1956, and made her final screen appearance in a cameo role in The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981).[8]

In 1949, she appeared with Rod Cameron in the comedy film Strike It Rich, filmed about Tyler, Kilgore, and Lindale in east Texas.

Bonita Granville's grave, next to that of her husband Jack Wrather, at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California

The marriage lasted until Wrather's death in 1984, shortly after release of the movie The Magic of Lassie, which starred Wrather's pal James Stewart.


Granville died on October 11, 1988 of lung cancer at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 65.[1] She was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[9]

Their children are daughters Molly and Linda, and sons Jack and Christopher. Jack and Molly were from Wrather's previous marriage to Mollie O'Daniel, a daughter of Governor of Texas and U.S. Senator W. Lee O'Daniel.


Bonita Granville has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6607 Hollywood Boulevard, for her contributions to motion pictures. She was honored at the Disneyland Hotel, which Jack Wrather owned until it was sold to the Walt Disney Company. The Bonita Tower and the Granville's Steak House were named in her honor.

Partial Filmography

(As actress, unless otherwise specified)

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Family Theater The Promise[10]


  1. 1 2 3 Peter B. Flint (October 12, 1988). "Bonita G. Wrather, 65, an Actress and Executive". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-30. Bonita Granville Wrather, a child film star of the 1930's and a longtime executive in the Wrather Corporation, a complex of oil, entertainment and real estate businesses founded by her husband, Jack Wrather, died of cancer yesterday at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 65 years old and had homes in Holmby Hills, Calif., and London. ...
  2. Granville marriage record accessed 8-3-2015
  3. "Granville, Actor, Dies In Hollywood. Film Comedian Well Known on New York Stage for Many Years. Victim of Pneumonia. Discovered By Ziegfeld. Long Career Included Roles in Minstrel Shows, Circuses and Outstanding Plays". New York Times. October 7, 1936. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
  4. "Remembering Bonita Granville – Biography". Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  5. "Andy's Girls". Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  6. Whitman Authorized Editions for Girls
  7. "Bonita Granville Becomes Bride". New York Times. February 5, 1947. Retrieved 2015-01-30. Bonita Granville, motion-picture actress, was married here today to Jack D. Wrather, Jr. of Dallas, Texas, oilman and film producer. The wedding was at the Bel-Air Hotel. ...
  8. "Bonita Granville – Biography – Movies & TV –". 1923-02-02. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  9. Bonita Granville at Find a Grave
  10. Kirby, Walter (March 2, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 28, 2015 via
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