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Ann Carter, a former child actress who starred in the haunting 1940s fantasy The Curse of the Cat People before her career was curtailed by polio, has died. She was 77.
Carter died Jan. 27 in North Bend, Wash., after a nine-year battle with ovarian cancer.
Carter also appeared as Veronica Lake‘s daughter in I Married a Witch (1942), as a young Norwegian girl opposite Paul Muni in the war movie Commandos Strike at Dawn (1942) and as Humphrey Bogart‘s daughter in the murder thriller The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947), also starring Barbara Stanwyck.
At age 7, Carter starred as the lonely child Amy Reed with an imaginary friend in RKO’s The Curse of the Cat People (1944), produced by Val Lewton and directed by Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise (his first directing credit).
She effectively left acting after she contracted polio in 1948, caused, she believed, by swimming in polluted waters off the coast of Catalina.
A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Carter was in 17 films from 1941 through 1949, including The North Star (1943) with Anne Baxter and Dana Andrews; And Now Tomorrow (1944) starring Alan Ladd and Loretta Young; Incendiary Blonde (1945) with Betty Hutton; The Virginian (1946) with Joel McCrea; The Boy With Green Hair (1948) with Pat O’Brien and Robert Ryan; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) with Bing Crosby; and Blondie Hits the Jackpot (1949).
She later attended Occidental College in Los Angeles (passing up a role in the 1955 Stanley Kramer movie Not as a Stranger because she had a final that day), did work for Lux Radio Theater and taught school in California and in the Seattle area.
Carter talked about the perils of child acting in an interview with Tom Weaver for his 2009 book, I Talked With a Zombie: Interviews With 23 Veterans of Horror and Sci-fi Films and Television.
“I would say the only negative thing was having to go to all these lessons my mother made me go to, which were dancing lessons, singing lessons, diction lessons, drama lessons and so on,” she said. “A kid would be off doing some other things. For instance, I don’t know how to ride a bicycle. I was never allowed to ride a bicycle, ’cause you might fall down, hurt yourself, do something that ‘shows.’ ”
Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who masqueraded for years as supposed Rockefeller heir Clark Rockefeller and was convicted in August of murder, claimed in 2008 that Carter was his mother. “He’s not my son,” she said.
She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Stephen, three children and three grandchildren.
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