Iris Meredith

Attractive blond leading lady of second features in the 1930’s and 40’s, who had enough charm and charisma to have merited a better career. Her exploits as a western heroine paled in comparison to her real life battles, which began when she lost both her parents while in her early teens. Forced to support her three siblings, she worked (after school) as a cashier at Loew’s Theatre in Los Angeles in the afternoons and evenings for $16.50 per week. By chance, she was noticed by an associate of Samuel Goldwyn who finagled a screen test for her. After a successful audition, she became a Goldwyn Girl for $125 per week. In 1935, she joined Fox as a contract player, though her roles remained little more than bit parts and walk-ons. One who did eventually recognise her potential was Columbia boss Harry Cohn, who signed Iris under contract a year later. At Columbia, she was immediately promoted to leading lady, albeit in stereotypical sagebrush sagas and mystery potboilers. Her most frequent co-star (they were in twenty films together) was the prolific Charles Starrett. Iris also popped up in the Columbia serial The Green Archer (1940), an inane attempt at an adaptation of a story by Edgar Wallace, with Victor Jory as the unlikely hero. This pretty much brought down the curtain on her career, since Iris spent the next couple of years in even lesser quality films for PRC (Producer’s Releasing Corporation, one of the ‘Poverty Row’ studios). Possibly seeing the writing on the wall, she retired after marrying Columbia director Abby Berlin.

During the last fifteen years of her life, Iris became afflicted by oral cancer. She underwent fourteen operations which severely disfigured her face, bravely battling on until the disease eventually claimed her life at the age of 64.

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