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Evelyn Ankers Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (11) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 17 August 1918Valparaiso, Chile
Date of Death 29 August 1985Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA  (ovarian cancer)
Nicknames The Queen of the Screamers
The Screamer
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Evelyn Ankers, a beautiful movie actress who was a staple of Universal's horror films in the 1940s, was born in Chile to English parents in 1918. Her parents repatriated the family back to England in the 1920s, and it was in Old Blighty that Ankers developed a desire to become an actress.

She began appearing in small roles in English movies in the mid-1930s while she was still in school. She appeared in Fire Over England (1937) with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and in Bells of St. Mary's (1937). A beauty with talent, she soon won starring roles in the low-budget The Villiers Diamond (1938) and The Claydon Treasure Mystery (1938).

With war clouds darkening the skies over Europe, Ankers emigrated to the United States and was signed to a contract by Universal in 1940. She made her Universal debut in the "Abbot and Costello" comedy-horror picture Hold That Ghost (1941) before appearing in the horror film classic The Wolf Man (1941) opposite Lon Chaney Jr.. Ankers found herself cast into the horror picture ghetto, appearing in three more Chaney fright films, The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Son of Dracula (1943) and The Frozen Ghost (1945), during a period in which she was cast ashore with a sarong-less Jon Hall in The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944). She also appeared in support of Basil Rathbone's "Sherlock Holmes" in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) and The Pearl of Death (1944).

Ankers married B-movie hunk Richard Denning in 1942 and made a go articulating the anxieties of the home front while her husband was off to war. Horror flicks were popular during World War II but, after the cessation of hostilities in 1945, they went out of favor with audiences. Ankers' career, mated to the genre at Universal, suffered.

She quit Universal in 1945 and freelanced at Columbia and Poverty Row's Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) and Republic Pictures in dramas and mysteries. Evelyn co-starred with her returned husband Richard in the major release Black Beauty (1946) for 20th Century Fox. For PRC, she headlined Queen of Burlesque (1946) and later co-starred with Lex Barker in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949).

As the 1950s dawned, a decade of conformity and family values, Ankers quit the movies for married life and motherhood after making The Texan Meets Calamity Jane (1950), in which she was first-billed. She was 32- years-old. A decade later, Ankers came out of retirement to make one final screen appearance, in her hubby's No Greater Love (1960).

Evelyn Ankers died of ovarian cancer on August 29, 1985, twelve days after her 67th birthday.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Richard Denning (6 September 1942 - 29 August 1985) (her death)

Trade Mark (4)

Her scream
Often played the damsel in distress opposite Lon Chaney Jr.
Often wore gorgeous formfitting dresses
Roles in horror films (most notably those for Universal Studios)

Trivia (11)

She was called "Queen of the Screamers" on account of her bloodcurdling vocal outbursts in "B" suspense thrillers of the 1940s.
She was engaged to actor Glenn Ford, but Ankers broke the engagement when she met Richard Denning while Ford was on location.
She remembered that many of the B movies she made were rush jobs. Arriving for a love scene on The Great Impersonation (1942), director John Rawlins called "Action!" before the actors were even given any blocking. When she and actor Ralph Bellamy remained frozen, she stuttered to the director, "I would like to meet my leading man, as I have never kissed a man before first being introduced to him.".
She was the only actress to appear in a Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein film. She played Gwen Conliffe in The Wolf Man (1941), in Son of Dracula (1943) she played Claire Caldwell and she appeared in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) as Elsa Frankenstein. Each of these roles was opposite Lon Chaney Jr. who played the monsters which terrorized Ankers.
Best friends with fellow scream queen Anne Gwynne at Universal Studios.
Despite the numerous times she worked with Lon Chaney Jr., the two reportedly had a strong disliking for each other. Often Chaney would scare Ankers and because of this, she referred to him as "a brute with bad breath".
Had appeared with Lon Chaney Jr. in five films: The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Son of Dracula (1943), Weird Woman (1944) and The Frozen Ghost (1945).
Her last film was the drama film No Greater Love (1960). She came out of retirement to appear in this film with her husband Richard Denning.
Following her death, she was interred at Maui Veterans Cemetery in Makawao, Hawaii.
First name was pronounced "Ee-vul-lynn".
Evelyn Ankers died 12 days after her 67th birthday.

Personal Quotes (2)

Right after he [Lon Chaney Jr.] and I had finished Son of Dracula (1943), I think, the studio invited the major magazines to a dinner party on the lot to meet all the horror stars. Everybody was there - Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and George Zucco. Lon, seated near my husband and me, proceeded to direct a number of rude, uncalled-for remarks toward Dick. Being a gentleman, Dick ignored them. Until... "How come", I recall Lon saying to Dick, "you're in the Navy and still in Los Angeles?" Dick replied, "It's a lot better than not being in the service at all during wartime" - which was Lon's situation. A while later, Lon said, "I've got a little ice cream on my sleeve", and wiped it on Dick's dress blues. That did it. Dick took his ice cream - which was pistachio green, in keeping with the horror motif - and pushed it in Lon's face. With all that green dripping from his face, he looked as if he were back in make-up for one of his monster characters.
[on Lon Chaney Jr.] When he wasn't drinking, he could be one of the sweetest men in the world.

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