Barbara Britton (Barbara Maurine Brantingham)

Barbara Britton

Barbara Maurine Brantingham was born September 26, 1919, in Long Beach, California. Her involvement with stage productions began when she was 14. She attended Polytechnic High School and Long Beach City College, majoring in speech with the intention of working as a speech and drama teacher. While in school she began to show an interest in acting and began working on local stage productions.  In 1941, while appearing in a Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, a photo of Britton was used on the front page of a local newspaper. A talent scout took notice, and she was soon signed to a Paramount Pictures contract. That same year, she appeared in her first two films: the William Boyd western Secrets of the Wasteland and Louisiana Purchase starring Bob Hope. Her first major film appearance was in a small role in the John Wayne film Reap the Wild Wind (1942).  During the 1940s Britton starred in three films for which she is most recognized today, two of which co-starred Randolph Scott. The first was the 1945 film Captain Kidd with Scott, followed by The Virginian in 1946 opposite Joel McCrea. The third was the 1947 Randolph Scott film Gunfighters. She teamed with Scott again in the 1948 western Albuquerque, and that same year she starred opposite Gene Autry in Loaded Pistols. In total, she starred or appeared in 26 films during that decade.

Britton starred in the 1950s television show Mr. and Mrs. North, a Thin Man-like mystery show, with Richard Denning and Francis De Sales. She was probably best known for being the spokesperson for Revlon products in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in ads and commercials that included live spots on The $64,000 Question. She also portrayed Laura Petrie in Carl Reiner’s Head of the Family, the 1959 pilot for the later Dick Van Dyke Show.  One of Britton’s last roles was on the daytime television soap opera One Life to Live in 1979. Over a 24-month span, Britton’s picture appeared on more than 100 magazine covers, including those of Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion, and McCall’s. In 1949, a newspaper article reported, “Today, Barbara Britton’s picture has appeared on more national magazine covers than any other motion picture actress in the world.”  Reportedly, in 1944, Britton suffered from nervous exhaustion due to overwork and was advised to seek the help of physician and psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene J. Czukor. Britton and Czukor, who was 22 years her senior, were married on April 2, 1945. At one time, the couple had a home on Victoria Drive in Laguna Beach, California. They moved to New York City in 1957. For many years Britton and her husband lived in a rambling, red shingled farmhouse in the Fairfield County town of Bethel, Connecticut. Later, following their love of antiques, they opened a shop in an early American barn in the antique-gallery enclave of Woodbury, Connecticut. They had two children, Ted and Christina, and their marriage lasted for 34 years until Britton’s death. She died of pancreatic cancer in New York City on January 17, 1980, at the age of 60. Czukor later died in 1989.

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Born

  • September, 26, 1919
  • USA
  • Long Beach, California

Died

  • January, 17, 1980
  • USA
  • New York, New York

Cause of Death

  • pancreatic cancer

Cemetery

  • Woodlawn Cemetery
  • Bronx, New York
  • USA

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