Brenda Marshall (Ardis Ankerson Gaines)

Brenda Marshall

Born in Negros, Philippines, Marshall made her first film appearance in the 1939 Espionage Agent. The following year, she played the leading lady to Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk. After divorcing actor Richard Gaines in 1940, she married the actor William Holden in 1941 and her own career quickly slowed. She starred opposite James Cagney in Captains of the Clouds (1942).  Marshall had a popular success in The Constant Nymph (1943), but she virtually retired after this, appearing in only four more inconsequential films. In one of these, she played scientist Nora Goodrich in the B picture cult classic Strange Impersonation (1946). In 1955, five years after her last film role, she made an appearance as herself (billed as Mrs. William Holden) in the fourth season episode of I Love Lucy entitled “The Fashion Show”.  She was born Ardis Ankerson on September 29, 1915 in Negros, Philippines, the younger of two daughters of Otto Peter Ankerson, overseer of a large sugar plantation. Her mother died when she was young, and the girls were sent to San Antonio, Texas to complete high school. She attended Texas Woman’s College for her freshman and sophomore years, 1934-35. She was named the Freshman Class Beauty in 1934, chosen by modern dancer Ted Shawn.  Brenda Marshall was her stage name but she refused to use the name off-camera and insisted that her friends call her by her real name. First married to actor Richard Huston Gaines (born July 23, 1904, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, died July 20, 1975, North Hollywood, California) in 1936, they had one daughter, Virginia; the couple divorced in 1940.  In 1941, Marshall married actor William Holden, who subsequently adopted Virginia Gaines (born November 17, 1937, New York City). Marshall and Holden had two additional children: Scott Porter Holden (born May 2, 1946–died January 21, 2005) and Peter Westfield Holden (born November 17, 1943). After several separations, Marshall and Holden were divorced in 1971. Marshall died in 1992 from throat cancer in Palm Springs, California, aged 76.

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  • September, 29, 1915
  • Negros, Philippines


  • July, 30, 1992
  • USA
  • Palm Springs, California

Cause of Death

  • throat cancer


  • Cremated

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