Birthday: January 31, 1922
Died At Age: 74
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Joan Letitia LaCock
Born in: Logan, West Virginia
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Females
Spouse/Ex-: C. V. Wood (m. 1972 - died. 1992), Dick Haymes (m. 1941 - div. 1949), George Pierose (m. 1963 - died. 1972), John Ireland (m. 1949 - div. 1957)
father: Ralph LaCock
mother: Jeanne LaCock
siblings: Peter Marshall
children: Barbara Nugent Haymes, Dick Haymes Jr., Helen Joanna Haymes
Died on: September 10, 1996
place of death: Los Angeles, California
U.S. State: West Virginia
Joanne Dru was an American actress who is best remembered for her lead role in one of the greatest western classics of all time, ‘Red River.’ She was born Joan Letitia LaCock in West Virginia, and was a highly talented and beautiful actress. Unfortunately, she became typecast in western movies early on in her career and she could never really shake it off. Though she did have roles in a few critically acclaimed and successful movies like ‘All the King’s Men,’ ‘The Pride of St. Louis,’ and ‘Hell on Frisco Bay,’ directors seemed to prefer her only in western roles. She had more than forty movies to her credit and had also appeared in many television shows; however, audiences will always remember her as the feisty Tess Millay of ‘Red River,’ which was undoubtedly her best-known role.
Joanne Dru moved to New York in 1940, soon after her father’s death, in search of a career. She began working as a model and was soon hired by Al Jolson as a showgirl for his Broadway play, ‘Hold on to Your Hats.’ In 1941, her husband, Dick Haymes, was offered a movie by 20th Century Fox, so they moved to Hollywood. As he began to focus on his movie career, Joanne began working in theatres to earn some money. While working in a theatre, she was discovered by a talent scout and got her first break in the movie ‘Abie’s Irish Rose’ (1946). The movie was such a big flop that for the next two years Joanne did not get any offer.
Her career was revived in 1948 by Howard Hawks’ ‘Red River,’ a western classic that brings to life the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas. The film starred John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in the male leads. Joanne Dru plays the love interest of Clift and her great chemistry with both the leading men was noted by everyone.
She was again cast against John Wayne in ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’ (1949) by John Ford. She delivered a brilliant performance as Olivia, a beautiful young woman who was being pursued by two United States cavalry officers. The movie was a hit. The very same year she delivered another hit movie, ‘All the King’s Men,’ which won the Oscars for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Picture. Joanne Dru essayed the role of Anne Stanton, a young girl who is blackmailed by Willie Stark, played by Broderick Crawford, into becoming his mistress. Her performance was well received by the critics and audiences alike.
In 1950, John Ford gave Joanne Dru a leading role in his next western movie, ‘Wagon Master.’ Though the film did not fare well at that time, today it is regarded as one of the best western classics of all time. Her role was again appreciated by the critics. These were her first four movies and are also regarded as her best movies. However, by this time she had been typecast into western roles. She did appear in numerous other movies afterwards, but her roles were not significant and the movies did not fare well. ‘Vengeance Valley’ (1951), ‘Pride of St. Louis’ (1952), ‘Thunder Bay’ (1953), ‘3 Ring Circus’ (1954), ‘Hell on Frisco Bay’ (1955), and ‘Sylvia’ (1965) are some of the movies that she appeared in. Her last movie was ‘Super Fuzz’ in 1980. A look at her career timeline clearly shows that her career began to fade in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a time when western movies were becoming less popular.
She also appeared in some television shows. ‘Wagon Train’ (1960), ‘Guestward Ho’ (1960-61), ‘Playhouse 90’ (1957), ‘The Governor & J.J’ (1970) and ‘The Smith Family’ (1971) are just some of the television shows that she appeared in from 1953 onwards.
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Family & Personal Life
Joanne Dru was born on January 31, 1922, in Logan, West Virginia, USA. Her father was a pharmacist, and after he died, the family moved to Wheeling. She later on moved to New York to earn her living as a model and showgirl. Her brother, Peter Marshall, became quite famous as the host of the original television game show called ‘Hollywood Squares.’ In fact, she appeared on his show quite frequently during the 1960s and 1970s.
She was married four times. In 1941, she married Dick Haymes, who was instrumental in bringing her to Hollywood. They had three children, Richard Ralph Haymes (1942), Helen Joanne Haymes (1944), and Barbara Nugent Haymes (1947). She divorced Haymes in 1949, and within a month married John Ireland, who was her co-star in ‘All the King’s Men.’ After her second divorce in 1957, she married for the third time in 1963. George Pierose, her third husband, died in 1972. The very same year, she married C.V. Wood, who was a multi-millionaire. Wood died in 1992.
Joanne Dru died on September 10, 1996, at the age of 74, due to a respiratory ailment.