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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 18 March 1928Columbia, Mississippi, USA
Birth NamePeggy Josephine Varnadow

Mini Bio (1)

This promising 1950s Universal-International contract player had so much going for her -- beauty, brains and talent -- to go the distance, but she came up far short after deciding to retire for domestic life. Not remembered all that well today, pretty and wholesome blonde Peggy Dow was born Margaret Josephine Varnadow on March 18, 1928, in Columbia, Mississippi. Her father, a businessman, moved about quite a bit but the family subsequently settled in Louisiana, where she attended college (both Louisiana State and Northwestern State University), majoring in drama and appearing in several college plays.

After brief modeling and radio experience, she was spotted by a talent agent and cast in a TV show in February 1949. Shortly after that exposure, Universal offered her a seven-year contract. Bypassing the starlet bit-part route, she made an auspicious film debut co-starring with Scott Brady in the thriller Undertow (1949), in which she played a vacationing schoolteacher who accidentally gets involved in a murder. Her second film (which she actually made first but was released later), Woman in Hiding (1950), was also a crime thriller, co-starring Ida Lupino and Stephen McNally. Showing clearly that she was up to the task of playing love interests with depth and range, Peggy's star began to ascend with these two modest efforts. She hit her peak when she co-starred as the lovely nurse in the classic James Stewart farce Harvey (1950) and appeared opposite Arthur Kennedy in the touching war drama Bright Victory (1951), the story of a soldier who is blinded and must learn to readjust to civilian life. These two different roles showed Hollywood that Peggy could handle comedy and drama with equal finesse.

Following a couple of more "B" pictures, Peggy suddenly retired after only three years in the business to marry Walter Helmerich in 1951. A non-professional whose career was in oil drilling, Helmerich and Peggy relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Despite such a promising Hollywood forecast, she never looked back and raised five sons in the process.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Walter Helmerich III (1951 - present) (5 children)

Trivia (3)

Once lived in Hollywood at "The Studio Club" which was a home for aspiring actresses run by Mrs. Cecil B. DeMille.
Retired to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Had five sons -- Rik, Zak, Mat, Hans and Jon -- and twelve grandchildren.
In 1998 she received an honorary degree from the University of Oklahoma for her devotion to improving health care education and cultural events in Tulsa. She helped establish the Tulsa Library Trust and the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award given each year to writers on behalf of the Tulsa community.

Personal Quotes (1)

[describing what it was like to work at Universal, where she was under contract, as opposed to other studios] At Universal they wanted us to use as many of our own clothes and accessories as we could. The other studios, like RKO, made or purchased everything for us.

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