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Frances Gifford (Frances Gifford)

Frances Gifford

Actress. A pretty brunette who appeared in numerous B-movies of the 1940s, she is probably best remembered as the half-naked Nyoka Meredith of Republic’s 1941 serial “Jungle Girl”. Born Mary Frances Gifford, she was raised in Long Beach, was a good enough student to apply to the UCLA Law School at 16, was signed to a contract after visiting the MGM Studios, and made her 1937 silver screen bow with a bit part in “The Big Shot”. After appearing in a number of forgettable movies including the 1937 “Stage Door” and 1938’s “Night Spot” and becoming a popular World War II pin-up girl, Frances had a small role in the 1939 Jimmy Stewart classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. Following a few more low budget flicks, she was loaned to Republic Pictures for 1941’s “Jungle Girl”, a series of 15 shorts that established her as a major presence. In 1942 she starred in “The Glass Key” while seeing her four year marriage to actor James Dunn fail due to her husband’s drinking, then in 1943 she returned to the jungle to co-star with Johnny Weissmuller in “Tarzan Triumphs”. Frances kept busy, her credits including “Thrill of a Romance” and “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” (both 1945) and the 1948 “Luxury Liner”, but later in 1948 she was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident. Though she survived, she was thereafter beset with mental and physical problems; two attempts at a comeback, the 1950 “Riding High” and 1953’s “Sky Commando”, failed and she was to spend the next quarter century in and out of psychiatric facilities, primarily Camarillo State Hospital to which she was committed in 1958. Apparently she recovered, at least to some extent, as a journalist encountered her working in the Pasadena Public Library in the early 1980s; Frances died in a nursing home of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As far as can be determined, the urban legend that she was the sister of football player Frank Gifford is a fabrication. (bio by: Bob Hufford)  Family links:  Spouse:  James Dunn (1901 – 1967)


  • December, 07, 1920
  • USA


  • January, 01, 1994
  • USA


  • Cremated

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