Actress Mona Freeman, cast as a perpetual teenager throughout the 1940s and ’50s in such films as The Heiress, Junior Miss, Dear Ruth and I Was a Shoplifter, has died. She was 87.
Freeman died May 23 in her Beverly Hills home after a long illness, her daughter, actress Monie Ellis, told the Los Angeles Times.
Freeman also was a painter, whose portrait of Mary See has been displayed for years in See’s Candies stores across the U.S.
Freeman played Marian Almond, the cousin of Olivia de Havilland‘s character who gets engaged in William Wyler‘s acclaimed film The Heiress (1949). In Junior Miss (1945), she starred as 13-year-old Lois Graves, who with her older sister (Peggy Ann Garner) meddle in people’s love lives. And she portrayed Ziggy, who learns some terrible habits from her mother in That Brennan Girl (1946).
Freeman also starred as Miriam Wilkins, a teen who has a pen-pal romance with a soldier (William Holden) during World War II but signs her older sister’s name to the letters, in Dear Ruth (1947). She then reprised the role in Dear Wife (1949) and Dear Brat (1951).
The blonde and youthful Freeman also appeared in such films as Till We Meet and Again Together Again, both released in 1944; the musical Mother Wore Tights (1947), as the daughter of Betty Grable‘s character; Streets of Laredo (1949), opposite Holden and Macdonald Carey; I Was a Shoplifter (1950), as a petty thief and daughter of a judge; and Otto Preminger‘s Angel Face (1952).
Her TV work included episodes of Maverick, Perry Mason, Wagon Train, The Millionaire and Branded. Her final onscreen credit came in the 1972 telefilm Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol.
Always cast as a bobbysoxer even as she approached age 30, Freeman became bored with acting and turned to portrait painting.
Born in Baltimore, Freeman worked as a teenage model in New York City and was named “Miss Subways” in 1941, the first one picked. She was signed to her first movie contract by RKO’s Howard Hughes.
In addition to Ellis — who starred as Gidget in the 1972 TV movie Gidget Gets Married — survivors include six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.