Helena Carter

Helena Carter (born Helen Rickerts, August 24, 1923 January 11, 2000) was an American film actress in the 1940s and 1950s who is best known for her work in the film Invaders from Mars as Dr. Patricia Blake. From 1947 to 1953 she would appear in 13 films, during which time she also worked as a model.

Helena Carter
Helena Carter in the trailer for
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)
Helen Rickerts

(1923-08-24)August 24, 1923
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 11, 2000(2000-01-11) (aged 76)
Spouse(s)Michael Meshekoff (1953-1997)

Early years

Carter was born in New York City,[1] and her family was of Scottish descent. She graduated from Hunter College and attended graduate school at Columbia University, studying for a teaching degree.[2] She later said her ambition was to be a teacher and marry a college professor.[3]

During this period she worked as a fashion model, which led to her becoming a cover girl. She first modeled sports clothes at Conover, where she became friends with Betsy Drake.[3]


Carter was visiting friends at Universal Studios when spotted by producer Leonard Goldstein. Universal signed her to a seven-year contract in 1946.[4] "I just happened to visit the studio at a good time, I guess," she later said.[3]

Her first film role was a small part in Time Out of Mind in 1947,[1] which starred Ella Raines and Phyllis Calvert.[3]

Universal put Carter in Something in the Wind (1948) with Deanna Durbin. In April 1947 she was loaned out for Intrigue (1948), her biggest part yet, billed third after George Raft and June Havoc.[5]

Back at Universal she was in River Lady (1948) vying with Yvonne de Carlo for Rod Cameron. That film was shot in July 1947.[6] She did not work again until June 1948. In August 1949 Hedda Hopper reported that Carter became "a little difficult to handle after her first picture. She turned down a part in an Abbott and Costello film, and got the silent treatment from the studio for the year. She finally saw the light, started co operating."[7]

The film that brought her back was being cast as Douglas Fairbanks Jr's love interest in The Fighting O'Flynn (1949), made for Fairbanks' company but released through Universal.[8] Fairbanks took an option on her to for two more films.[3]In 1948 she appeared on the cover of Life Magazine.[9]

In June 1948 she told an interviewer, "Cameras don't frighten me even if I have freckles. But I still talk too fast. Sound men tear their hair out when I speak my first words in a picture. They are polite but very firm as they say, between clenched teeth, 'Slow down, Miss Carter, slow down.'"[3]

Conflict with Universal

Carter turned down the part of Richard Long's wife in Ma and Pa Kettle in October 1948; Meg Randall played the role.[10] In November Hedda Hopper reported that Carter wanted out of her Universal contract six months ago, and would get it if she paid back all the salary she had received since September. Hopper reported that the studio got enough money out of her loan outs to Fairbanks and Raft to cover two years of her pay.[11]

However she stayed with Universal. In July 1949 Carter replaced Dolores Hart in East of Java[12] which became South Sea Sinner (1951). Carter and Shelley Winters reportedly feuded on set, although both denied it.[13][14] She followed it with the female lead in Double Crossbones (1950), a comedy with Donald O'Connor.

Final Films

In April 1950 James Cagney and his brother William borrowed her for Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), made by William Cagney Productions for Warner Bros.[15] The same month she was reportedly reading for the role of Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac (1950).[16]

She supported Randolph Scott in the 1951 western Fort Worth.

William Cagney used her again in Bugles in the Afternoon (1952) with Ray Milland.[17] Sam Katzman used her in The Golden Hawk (1952) and The Pathfinder (1952).

Carter's final film role was in 1953 when she starred in William Cameron Menzies' sci-fi thriller Invaders from Mars. She retired on her second marriage.[18]

Personal life

Carter married twice, the first ending in divorce. On December 31, 1953, she married Michael Meshekoff,[19] with whom she would remain until his death in 1997.


Carter died at age 76 in Los Angeles, California, on January 11, 2000.[20]


Year Title Role Notes
1947 Time Out of Mind Dora Drake
Something in the Wind Clarissa Prentice
Intrigue Linda Parker
1948 River Lady Stephanie Morrison
1949 The Fighting O'Flynn Lady Benedetta
1950 Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye Margaret Dobson
South Sea Sinner Margaret Landis
1951 Double Crossbones Lady Sylvia Copeland
Fort Worth Amy Brooks
1952 Bugles in the Afternoon Josephine Russell
The Golden Hawk Blanca de Valdiva
The Pathfinder Alison
1953 Invaders from Mars Dr. Patricia Blake


  1. "Helena Carter; Model, Movie Actress of 1940s and '50s". Los Angeles Times. January 25, 2000. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  2. "Helena Carter One of Several Standouts in Movie Now Unreeling". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. August 31, 1950. p. 14. Retrieved November 2, 2016 via Newspapers.com.
  3. Scott, J. L. (1948, Jun 20). GLAMOUR GIRL FOUND TO HAVE ABILITY, TOO. Los Angeles Times
  4. COLUMBIA TO FILM BARRY STORM WORK: Studio Acquires Screen Rights to 'Thundergod's Gold,' Tale of Lost Mine in Arizona By THOMAS F. BRADYS New York Times 20 Apr 1948: 33.
  5. Schallert, E. (1947, Apr 28). DRAMA AND FILM. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/165748138
  6. DRAMA AND FILM: Mrs. Miniver Revives; Unborn Baby 'Siqned' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 25 July 1947: A3.
  7. HEDDA HOPPER. (1949, Aug 08). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/165991139
  8. By THOMAS F BRADY Special to The New York Times. (1948, Apr 20). COLUMBIA TO FILM BARRY STORM WORK. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/108401432
  9. "Movie Fencers". Life Magazine. November 8, 1948.
  10. Schallert, E. (1948, Nov 10). Policing of race tracks stirs up documentary; noted britisher signed. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/165870793
  11. Jean Peters to Star With Ray Milland Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 13 Nov 1948: 9.
  12. JANET LEIGH GETS 2 RKO FILM LEADS: New York Times 1 July 1949: 14.
  13. HEDDA HOPPER: Walker Will Costar With Singer Grayson Los Angeles Times 26 July 1949: 14.
  14. By THOMAS F BRADY Special to The New York Times. (1949, Jul 01). JANET LEIGH GETS 2 RKO FILM LEADS. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/105964331
  15. HOLDEN GETS ROLE IN 'BORN YESTERDAY' New York Times 15 Apr 1950: 11.
  16. Gregory Peck Teams with Gene Tierney in Combination Film Tale: Looking at Hollywood.. Hedda Hopper's Staff. Chicago Daily Tribune 27 Apr 1950: a1.
  17. Schallert, E. (1951, Jun 06). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166203588
  18. Obituaries; * helena carter; model, movie actress of 1940s and '50s. (2000, Jan 25). Los Angeles Times Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2000/jan/25/news/mn-57642
  19. "Marriages". Billboard. January 16, 1954. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  20. III, Harris M. Lentz (2001). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2000: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. pp. 40–41. ISBN 9780786410248. Retrieved November 2, 2016.

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