Joyce Gordon, First Female President of Screen Actors Guild Branch, Dies at 90

Gordon was elected president of the New York branch of SAG in 1966 after having appeared in numerous network promos and commercials.

Joyce Gordon, a commercial actress, voiceover performer and the first female president of a Screen Actors Guild branch, died Friday, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris confirmed in a statement on the guild website. She was 90.

"Joyce was everything you could want in a SAG-AFTRA member and leader: intelligent, talented, unceasingly dedicated to her fellow performers, and a warm and generous friend,” wrote Carteris. "Her stature as a pitchwoman and voiceover talent was indispensable in convincing the advertising industry to take seriously the concerns of commercial performers in the early days of that contract. Our hearts go out to Joyce’s family."

Gordon was elected president of the New York branch of the Screen Actors Guild in 1966 after having appeared in numerous promos and commercials. She went on to serve the union for four decades, as well as being a trustee of the Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension and Health Plans and the SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Motion Picture Player Welfare Fund.

According to SAG, Gordon was the first woman to do network promos, the first female announcer for a political convention on network television and also the first woman to wear glasses while appearing as herself on television. 

Gordon was born on March 25, 1929, in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in Chicago. She moved to New York at the age of 19 to pursue her career in entertainment, making early appearances on the radio and live television, including Studio One and Robert Montgomery Presents, among others. In later years, Gordon appeared in live commercials on The Price Is Right and The Jack Paar Show before moving into recorded commercials, where she made further significant contributions to the industry.

"I am deeply grieved at the loss of my dear friend and colleague of nearly 40 years," said former SAG New York branch president Maureen Donnelly in her own statement to the guild website. "Joyce was a tremendous advocate for our union, its members and especially actors and their families. She was one of the creators of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Scholarship in honor of Jack Dales providing crucial financial support to members and their children pursuing an education. Joyce was a passionate advocate for New York members in her work as a trustee for MPPWF."

Gordon, who was married to actor Bernard Grant until his death in 2004, is survived by her son, Mark Grant; her daughter, Melissa Grant; her grandson Dirk Vanderzwan; and her sister, Jill Gordon.