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Helena Carter
Helena Carter from Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.jpg
Helena Carter in the trailer for
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)
Helen Rickerts

(1923-08-24)August 24, 1923
New York City, U.S.
DiedJanuary 11, 2000(2000-01-11) (aged 76)
Alma materHunter College
Columbia University
Spouse(s)Michael Meshekoff (1953–1997)

Helena Carter (born Helen Rickerts, August 24, 1923 – January 11, 2000) was an American film actress in the 1940s and 1950s who is best known for her work in the film Invaders from Mars as Dr. Patricia Blake. From 1947 to 1953 she would appear in 13 films, during which time she also worked as a model.[1]

Early years

Carter was born in New York City,[2] and her family was of Scottish descent. She graduated from Hunter College and attended graduate school at Columbia University, studying for a teaching degree.[3] She later said her ambition was to be a teacher and marry a college professor.[4]

During this period she worked as a fashion model, which led to her becoming a cover girl. She first modeled sports clothes at Conover, where she became friends with Betsy Drake.[4]


Carter was visiting friends at Universal Studios when spotted by producer Leonard Goldstein. Universal signed her to a seven-year contract in 1946.[5] "I just happened to visit the studio at a good time, I guess", she later said.[4]

Her first film role was a small part in Time Out of Mind in 1947,[2] which starred Ella Raines and Phyllis Calvert.[4] According to Filmink "Carter has poise and beauty, but her inexperience is most evident in her speaking voice – she enunciates like someone who has been to finishing school. However, she already demonstrates what would be more notable attributes – her beauty, spark and intelligence, and her ability to focus her eyes on the person she was performing a scene with."[1]

Universal put Carter in Something in the Wind (1948) with Deanna Durbin. In April 1947 she was loaned out for Intrigue (1948), her biggest part yet, billed third after George Raft and June Havoc.[6] According to Filmink her performance in the latter "helped establish what would be her stock in trade character – a good girl sexually attracted to the bad boy hero; moral, but not a stick in the mud; intelligent and spirited."[1]

Back at Universal she was in River Lady (1948) vying with Yvonne de Carlo for Rod Cameron. That film was shot in July 1947.[7] She did not work again until June 1948. In August 1949 Hedda Hopper reported that Carter became "a little difficult to handle after her first picture. She turned down a part in an Abbott and Costello film, and got the silent treatment from the studio for the year. She finally saw the light, started co operating."[8]

The film that brought her back was being cast as Douglas Fairbanks Jr's love interest in The Fighting O'Flynn (1949), made for Fairbanks' company but released through Universal.[9] Fairbanks took an option on her to for two more films.[4] In 1948 she appeared on the cover of Life.[10]

In June 1948 she told an interviewer, "Cameras don't frighten me even if I have freckles. But I still talk too fast. Sound men tear their hair out when I speak my first words in a picture. They are polite but very firm as they say, between clenched teeth, 'Slow down, Miss Carter, slow down.'"[4]

Conflict with Universal

Carter turned down the part of Richard Long's wife in Ma and Pa Kettle in October 1948; Meg Randall played the role.[11] In November Hedda Hopper reported that Carter wanted out of her Universal contract six months ago, and would get it if she paid back all the salary she had received since September. Hopper reported that the studio got enough money out of her loan outs to Fairbanks and Raft to cover two years of her pay.[12] Filmink suggested Carter knew how good she was and wanted better roles. But Universal executives weren't about to let any uppity ex model college grad tell them what to do and slapped her down."[1] However she stayed with Universal. In July 1949 Carter replaced Dolores Hart in East of Java[13] which became South Sea Sinner (1951). Carter and Shelley Winters reportedly feuded on set, although both denied it.[14][15] She followed it with the female lead in Double Crossbones (1950), a comedy with Donald O'Connor.

Final Films

In April 1950 James Cagney and his brother William borrowed her for Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), made by William Cagney Productions for Warner Bros.[16] The same month she was reportedly reading for the role of Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac (1950).[17]

She supported Randolph Scott in the 1951 western Fort Worth.

William Cagney used her again in Bugles in the Afternoon (1952) with Ray Milland.[18] Sam Katzman used her in The Golden Hawk (1952) and The Pathfinder (1952).

Carter's final film role was in 1953 when she starred in William Cameron Menzies' sci-fi thriller Invaders from Mars. As pointed out by Filmink "For the first time in her entire career, Carter played something other than a love interest for the male lead."[1]

She retired on her second marriage.[19]

Personal life

Carter married twice, the first ending in divorce. On December 31, 1953, she married Michael Meshekoff,[20] with whom she would remain until his death in 1997.


Carter died at age 76 in Los Angeles, California, on January 11, 2000.[21]


Year Title Role Notes
1947 Time Out of Mind Dora Drake
Something in the Wind Clarissa Prentice
Intrigue Linda Parker
1948 River Lady Stephanie Morrison
1949 The Fighting O'Flynn Lady Benedetta
1950 Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye Margaret Dobson
South Sea Sinner Margaret Landis
1951 Double Crossbones Lady Sylvia Copeland
Fort Worth Amy Brooks
1952 Bugles in the Afternoon Josephine Russell
The Golden Hawk Blanca de Valdiva
The Pathfinder Alison
1953 Invaders from Mars Dr. Patricia Blake


  1. ^ a b c d e Vagg, Stephen (February 14, 2020). "Helena Carter: An Appreciation". Filmink.
  2. ^ a b "Helena Carter; Model, Movie Actress of 1940s and '50s". Los Angeles Times. January 25, 2000. Retrieved November 2, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Helena Carter One of Several Standouts in Movie Now Unreeling". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. August 31, 1950. p. 14. Retrieved November 2, 2016 – via CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) open access
  4. ^ a b c d e f Scott, J. L. (June 20, 1948). "GLAMOUR GIRL FOUND TO HAVE ABILITY, TOO". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ THOMAS F. BRADY (April 20, 1948). "COLUMBIA TO FILM BARRY STORM WORK: Studio Acquires Screen Rights to 'Thundergod's Gold,' Tale of Lost Mine in Arizona". New York Times. p. 33.
  6. ^ Schallert, E. (April 28, 1947). "DRAMA AND FILM". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165748138.
  7. ^ Schallert, Edwin. (July 25, 1947). "DRAMA AND FILM: Mrs. Miniver Revives; Unborn Baby 'Siqned'". Los Angeles Times. p. A3.
  8. ^ HEDDA HOPPER (August 8, 1949). Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165991139. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ THOMAS F BRADY (April 20, 1948). "COLUMBIA TO FILM BARRY STORM WORK". New York Times. ProQuest 108401432.
  10. ^ "Movie Fencers". Life Magazine. November 8, 1948.
  11. ^ Schallert, E. (November 10, 1948). "Policing of race tracks stirs up documentary; noted britisher signed". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165870793.
  12. ^ Hopper, Hedda (November 13, 1948). "Jean Peters to Star With Ray Milland". Los Angeles Times. p. 9.
  13. ^ "JANET LEIGH GETS 2 RKO FILM LEADS". New York Times. July 1, 1949. p. 14.
  14. ^ HEDDA HOPPER (July 26, 1949). "Walker Will Costar With Singer Grayson". Los Angeles Times. p. 14.
  15. ^ THOMAS F BRADY (July 1, 1949). "JANET LEIGH GETS 2 RKO FILM LEADS". New York Times. ProQuest 105964331.
  16. ^ "HOLDEN GETS ROLE IN 'BORN YESTERDAY'". New York Times. April 15, 1950. p. 11.
  17. ^ Hedda Hopper's Staff (April 27, 1950). "Gregory Peck Teams with Gene Tierney in Combination Film Tale: Looking at Hollywood.". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. a1.
  18. ^ Schallert, E. (June 6, 1951). "Drama". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166203588.
  19. ^ "Obituaries; helena carter; model, movie actress of 1940s and '50s". Los Angeles Times. January 25, 2000.
  20. ^ "Marriages". Billboard. January 16, 1954. Retrieved November 2, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ III, Harris M. Lentz (2001). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2000: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. pp. 40–41. ISBN 9780786410248. Retrieved November 2, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links

This page was last edited on 17 October 2020, at 19:34
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