Actress. Though she starred in several dozen Hollywood features of the 1930s and 1940s, she will perhaps be better remembered as the wife of actor William Boyd, the screen’s Hopalong Cassidy. Raised in New York, she trained as a classical pianist at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, but after winning a Carnegie Hall competition at 15 chose instead to persue a career as a model and dancer. She made her 1930 Broadway debut with “Ballyhoo”, then was seen on the Great White Way for the next three years, her final credit being 1933’s “Kiss Me Pink”. Spotted dancing at a Manhattan nightclub in 1933, she was signed to a contract by Paramount and moved to Hollywood. Grace had actually made her silver screen bow in 1932 with “Tip Tap Toe”, but her first major role was to be in the 1933 “Too Much Harmony”, which starred Bing Crosby. She appeared regularly for the next decade, usually in seductive parts, her credits including “Come on Marines” (1934), the 1937 “You’re in the Army now”, and “The Big Broadcast of 1938”. In May, 1937, she had an ‘arranged date’ with the somewhat older William Boyd on whom she had had a secret crush since she was 12; romance quickly followed, and she became the fifth and last Mrs Boyd three weeks later. With marriage, Grace was to curtail her own acting, though she continued to be seen periodically up until 1943’s “Taxi Mister”. (She did have one final film turn in the 1954 “Rose Parade”). Starting in the mid-1940s, her major focus was assisting Boyd in the purchase of the rights to the previously existing Hopalong Cassidy movies, then in 1946 helping him produce more. The couple’s investment of time and money paid off as the films began to be shown on the then-new medium of television, leading to a successful half-hour series that made Hopalong television’s first cowboy hero. Grace was to accompany her husband on promotional tours, then following his death continued the personal appearances, while being forced to fight a number of copyright challenges. For many years a volunteer at the Laguna Beach hospital where Boyd spent his last days, Grace died of the complications of advanced age.
- September, 21, 1913
- New York
- September, 21, 2010
- Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)