Brenda Joyce (actress)

Brenda Joyce

Joyce in the 1940s
Born Betty Graftina Leabo
(1917-02-25)February 25, 1917
Excelsior Springs, Missouri, U.S.[1][2]
Died July 4, 2009(2009-07-04) (aged 92)
Santa Monica, California
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Other names Betty Ward
Occupation Actress
Years active 19391949

Owen Ward (19411960),

? Bemis (?-?),

Howard Mager (?-?)

Brenda Joyce (February 25, 1917[3] July 4, 2009[4]) was an American film actress.

Early years

The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Grafton Leabo,[5] Joyce was born Betty Graftina Leabo in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, although family and friends referred to her as Graftina.

When she was 5 years old, she moved with her mother to San Bernardino, California, staying there through her junior high school years. They moved to Los Angeles, California, where she attended high school. She entered the University of Southern California on a scholarship but transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles after one semester.[6]


Between her years in college and those in film, Joyce was a model for photographers. She appeared "in current magazines -- in new automobiles, using toothpaste, modeling shoes, smiling her way through the glossy life of a magazine girl."[6]


Although she appeared in many B-movies of the 1940s, she had a prominent supporting role in the major 1939 film The Rains Came opposite George Brent and Myrna Loy, and was cast as Maris Hanover in the 1942 film, Little Tokyo, U.S.A.. She is best-remembered as the seventh actress to play Jane in the Tarzan series of films. She succeeded Maureen O'Sullivan in the series and appeared in the role five times.

Her first four appearances as Jane were opposite Johnny Weissmuller. However, her last performance as Jane, in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949), was with Lex Barker as Tarzan. Joyce and Karla Schramm, from the silent era, were the only two actresses to play Jane opposite two different actors playing Tarzan.

She retired from acting in 1949.

Later years

Joyce retired "at the peak of her career to raise a family."[7] Later, as Betty Ward, she became director of the Catholic Resettlement Office in Monterey, California, and "helped hundreds of refugees find new lives in America."[7]

Personal life

She was married to Owen Ward, whom she had known "since her junior high school days,"[6] from 1941 until their divorce in 1960; they had three children, Pamela Ann, Timothy Owen and Beth Victoria.


Joyce died of pneumonia[8] on July 4, 2009, in a nursing home in Santa Monica, California.[4]

Selected filmography


  1. "Brenda Joyce Brenda Joyce, who died on July 4 aged 97, swung to fame opposite Johnny Weissmuller and then Lex Barker as the seventh actress to play Jane in the durable Tarzan series of films.". The Daily Telegraph. London. July 24, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  3. Other sources indicate 1912 or 1915 as her year of birth. A friend of Joyce's confirmed after her death that she was 92, making 1917 the most likely date of birth.
  4. 1 2 Barnes, Mike (July 17, 2009). "'Tarzan' actress Brenda Joyce dies". Hollywood Reporter.
  5. "School Romance Will Lead Couple to Altar". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. January 16, 1941. p. 13. Retrieved June 2, 2016 via
  6. 1 2 3 "Girl from Paris in Movie Debut". Moberly Monitor-Index. Missouri, Moberly. May 16, 1939. p. 16. Retrieved June 2, 2016 via
  7. 1 2 "Playing Jane in Tarzan movies 'wasn't a challenge'". Santa Cruz Sentinel. California, Santa Cruz. July 13, 1985. p. 35. Retrieved June 2, 2016 via
  8. "Obituary in the News". Porterville Reporter. California, Porterville. Associated Press. July 23, 2009. p. 5. Retrieved June 2, 2016 via

External links

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