Elyse Knox

Elyse Knox (born Elsie Lillian Kornbrath: December 14, 1917 – February 16, 2012) was an American actress, model, and fashion designer.

Elyse Knox
Knox in 1943
Elsie Lillian Kornbrath

(1917-12-14)December 14, 1917
DiedFebruary 16, 2012(2012-02-16) (aged 94)
EducationTraphagen School of Fashion
OccupationActress, Model, Fashion Designer
Years active1937–1949
Paul Hesse
(m. 1942; div. 1943)

Tom Harmon
(m. 1944; died 1990)
ChildrenKristin Nelson
Kelly Harmon
Mark Harmon

Early life

Knox was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of Austrian immigrants Hermine Sophie (née Muck) and Frederick Kornbrath.[1][2][3][4] She studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion in Manhattan, New York, then embarked on a career in fashion design. She modeled some of her own creations for Vogue magazine, which led to a contract offer from Twentieth Century Fox film studio in 1937.


Knox performed mainly in minor or secondary roles until 1942, when she had a leading role with Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Mummy's Tomb, one of the series of Mummy horror films made by Universal Studios. She appeared as herself in the Universal Studios 1944 production Follow the Boys, one of the World War II morale-booster films made both for the soldiers serving overseas and civilians at home. Knox also was a pin-up girl during the war, appearing in such magazines as Yank, a weekly published and distributed by the United States military.

In late 1945, Knox was signed by Monogram Pictures to portray Anne Howe, the love interest of fictional boxer Joe Palooka in Joe Palooka, Champ. Based on the very popular comic strip, the instant success of the May 1946 film led to Knox appearing in another five Joe Palooka productions. After acting in 39 films, Knox retired in 1949 following her performance in the musical film There's a Girl in My Heart.

Personal life

While appearing on the Bing Crosby radio show, she met football star Tom Harmon, winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1940. They were engaged to be married, but ended the relationship when Harmon entered the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942. Later that year, Knox married fashion photographer Paul Hesse, who had shot many of her print ads and magazine covers, but the marriage was brief.

Following her divorce and Harmon's return from World War II (during which he survived two plane crashes and being lost in the jungle), Harmon and she married in 1944. Her wedding dress was made of silk from the parachute Harmon used when bailing out of his plane.[5] After Harmon's demobilization, they settled in the Los Angeles area.


The couple had three children: Kristin (1945–2018), Kelly (born 1948), and Mark (born 1951). Kristin became an actress and painter, who at 17 married recording artist Ricky Nelson and gave birth to four children: Tracy, twins Gunnar and Matthew, and Sam. Kelly, a model turned interior designer, was once married to automaker John DeLorean, and has two daughters and a son and two other stepchildren. Mark played quarterback at UCLA, became an actor, and has two sons with wife Pam Dawber.


On February 16, 2012, Knox died at her home in Los Angeles at age 94.[6]


Year Title Role Notes
1937 Wake Up and Live Nurse uncredited
1940 Lillian Russell Lillian Russell's Sister performer: "Brighten the Corner Where You Are"
1940 Youth Will Be Served Pamela
1940 Yesterday's Heroes Undetermined role uncredited
1940 Girl from Avenue A Angela
1940 Girl in 313 Judith Wilson
1940 Star Dust Girl uncredited
1940 Free, Blonde and 21 Marjorie
1941 Miss Polly Barbara Snodgrass
1941 All-American Co-Ed Co-ed uncredited
1941 Tanks a Million Jeannie
1941 Sheriff of Tombstone Mary Carson
1941 Footlight Fever Eileen Drake
1942 Arabian Nights Duenna uncredited
1942 The Mummy's Tomb Isobel Evans
1942 Top Sergeant Helen Gray
1942 Hay Foot Betty Barkley
1943 Hi'ya, Sailor Pat Rogers
1943 So's Your Uncle Patricia Williams
1943 Hit the Ice Nurse Peggy Osborne
1943 Mister Big Alice Taswell
1943 Keep 'Em Slugging Suzanne
1943 Don Winslow of the Coast Guard Mercedes Colby
1944 Army Wives Jerry Van Dyke
1944 A Wave, a WAC and a Marine Marian
1944 Moonlight and Cactus Louise Ferguson
1944 Follow the Boys Herself
1946 Sweetheart of Sigma Chi Betty Allen
1946 Gentleman Joe Palooka Anne Howe
1946 Joe Palooka, Champ Anne Howe
1947 Linda, Be Good Linda Prentiss
1947 Joe Palooka in the Knockout Anne Howe
1947 Black Gold Ruth Frazer
1948 Joe Palooka in Winner Take All Anne Howe
1948 I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes Ann Quinn
1948 Joe Palooka in Fighting Mad Anne Howe
1949 There's a Girl in My Heart Claire Adamson
1949 Joe Palooka in the Counterpunch Anne Howe
1949 Forgotten Women Kate Allison
1953 I Was a Burlesque Queen Linda Prentiss archive footage
1999 Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed Isobel Evans archive footage


  1. 1920 US Census, Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut
  2. "The Hartford Courant article archive - Frederick Kornbrath Gets Divorce". pqarchiver.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  3. "Chicago Sun-Times:: Search". newsbank.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  4. "Food rocks, according to grandson of TV icons". siouxcityjournal.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  5. Time Magazine, August 28, 1944.
  6. Nelson, Valerie J. (February 19, 2012). "Elyse Knox dies at 94; B-movie actress in the 1940s". Los Angeles Times. (obituary).
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