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Helen Twelvetrees Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (9) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 25 December 1908Brooklyn, New York, USA
Date of Death 13 February 1958Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA  (suicide)
Birth NameHelen Marie Jurgens
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Helen Twelvetrees was born Helen Marie Jurgens in Brooklyn, New York on December 25, 1908. Her interest in the theatricals was apparent at an early age. After graduating from high school. Helen embarked on a stage career. She participated in a number of plays in New York City, but gravitated toward film when she headed to the West Coast in late 1928. In 1929, Helen appeared in her first motion picture called THE GHOST TALKS. That was quickly followed by WORDS AND MUSIC and BLUE SKIES that same year. Through the early thirties, Helen appeared in a number of movies. Audiences appreciated the pixish, little blonde and the roles she played. Perhaps one of her finest roles was a June Perry in STATE'S ATTORNEY (1932) opposite John Barrymore. Helen's character was romantically involved with the district attorney and plays the part with absolute conviction. Helen continued a hectic filming pace until 1936. She filmed five movies in 1935, but played in only THOROUGHBRED in '36. In 1938, Helen went through a drought and made her last film the following year in UNMARRIED. Helen's film career had ended. Through the balance of her life there seemed to be a void. On February 13, 1958, died after she took an overdose of sedatives. She was 49.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Born in New York, Helen was schooled at the Brooklyn Heights Seminary before heading to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1927, Helen Jurgens married Clark Twelvetrees and became Helen Twelvetrees. With some stage experience, Helen went to Hollywood with a number of other actors to replace the silent stars that could not or would not make the transition to talkies. Her first job was with Fox and she appeared in 'The Ghost Talks (1929)'. Being that Helen was blond and short, she was usually cast as the fallen or betrayed woman such as Elsa in 'A Woman of Experience (1931)'. But she also played the girl friend in 'Is My Face Red? (1932)' and the heroine in 'Her Man (1930)'. Most of her films were made at RKO, where she landed after leaving Pathe and Fox. By 1935, the public had grown tired of her roles and directors had grown weary of her temperament. While she would appear in a few small roles toward the end of the decade, her career in films was over. In 1958, Helen died of a drug overdose.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana < tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (3)

Conrad Payne (1947 - 13 February 1958) (her death)
Jack Woody (17 April 1931 - 15 April 1936) (divorced) (1 child)
Clark Twelvetrees (1927 - 1 April 1931) (divorced)

Trivia (9)

Her cremated remains are buried in an unmarked grave in the Middletown Cemetery near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she died. Her husband, Conrad Payne was stationed at the former Olmsted AFB at the time of her death. The plot on which she is buried is titled in his name and is located in section "D" of the "new" section of the cemetery.
Her father, Williams Jurgens, was advertising manager for the Brooklyn edition of the New York Evening Journal.
Her career was born after noted artist George Bradshaw Crandall painted a portrait of her which made the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. She was a student at New York's Art Student League at the time studying music, painting and drama.
She met her first husband, Clark Twelvetrees, while both were enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. They eloped to Greenwich, Connecticut in 1927. They both worked in New York's theatre town -- she as an actress and he as a stage manager -- but he couldn't get his acting career going and turned to alcohol. They divorced in 1931 and he died seven years later of acute alcoholism following a street brawl.
Her first screen role required her to lisp and, following the movie's release, word spread that she had a serious speech impediment.
Played Blanche Du Bois in "A Streetcar Named Desire at Sea Cliff, Long Island in August of 1951. It was one of her last professional appearances.
First husband, Clark Twelvetrees was a despairing alcoholic who tried to commit suicide by throwing himself out a seventh floor window. He was saved by landing on a second floor awning. The tabloids accused Helen of deliberately pushing him out the window and was only released from custody after her husband regained consciousness and was able to tell the truth.
Second husband Frank Woody, by whom she had a child, Frank Woody Jr., also made the headlines in 1936 at Helen's expense. The couple were already estranged at the time. It seems Helen was dining with a male friend when her husband passed by and forced a fight with her male companion. The altercation left the other man with two black eyes and a front page news item.
During the time of her popularity, a popular joke was that she was Lassie's favorite actress.

Personal Quotes (2)

Between pictures I go away. I think that is the best way to achieve happiness in Hollywood, the only way to keep one's perspective. If you stay too close to the motion picture colony you lose your sense of values.
I'm tired of taking the blame if the picture wasn't good. A star's years on the screen are limited. The featured players have many years. A star has too much footage in the picture. It seems to me I'm the perpetually pure-at-heart street- walker, always drooping over bars while some director says, 'Now, Helen, you must be very sweet about this naughty line. Remember, you haven't the faintest idea what it means!'

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