Helene Whitney

Helene Whitney (born Kenyon Fortescue, July 4, 1914 March 28, 1990) was an American actress who appeared in films in the late 1930s and 1940s. She was known as Helene Reynolds after her marriage.

Helene Whitney
Kenyon Fortescue

(1914-07-04)July 4, 1914
DiedMarch 28, 1990(1990-03-28) (aged 75)
Other namesHelen Fortescue
Joyce Gardner
Helene Reynolds
Years active1939–1948
Spouse(s)J. Louis Reynolds (1936–1939; divorced)


Whitney was born Kenyon Fortescue in 1914, but was known as Helene.[1][2] Through her mother, Grace Fortescue (1883–1979),[2] she was a grandniece (and cousin twice removed) of Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone. Through her father Granville Roland Fortescue (1875–1952),[2] she was a first cousin once removed of US President Theodore Roosevelt.

She grew up in Washington D.C. where she attended the National Cathedral School for Girls.[3] She married Julian Louis Reynolds,[2] son of Richard S. Reynolds, Sr.[4] and heir to the Reynolds aluminum and tobacco fortunes, on July 15, 1936, in Washington, becoming Helene Fortescue Reynolds.[5] After three years of marriage, they divorced in May 1939.[5][6][7]

She became an actress, using the stage names of Joyce Gardner, Helene Whitney and Helene Reynolds, appeared in films in the late 1930s and 1940s and later in stage productions.[3] After her acting career ended, she became a Manhattan art gallery proprietor and artist in the 1960s.[1] She died of pneumonia at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Atlantis, Florida aged 75 on March 28, 1990.[3]


As Helene Whitney/Helen Whitney

1939The Hunchback of Notre DameFleur de LysNYT
1940The Saint's Double TroubleAnne BittsIMDb
1940Millionaire Playboy aka Glamour Boy (UK)uncreditedIMDb
1940The Philadelphia StoryMain Line Society WomanIMDb
1941City of Missing GirlsKatherine CrawfordIMDb

As Helene Reynolds

1941Confirm or DenyDorothyIMDb
1941Blue, White and PerfectHelen ShawNYT
1942Girl TroubleHelen MartinIMDb
1942Roxie HartVelma WallIMDb
1942Tales of ManhattanActressIMDb
1942MoontideWoman in boatIMDb
1942The Man Who Wouldn't DieAnna WolffNYT
1943Dixie DuganJean PattersonIMDb
1943Heaven Can WaitPeggy NashIMdb
1943WintertimeMarian Daly (uncredited)NYT
1943The Meanest Man in the World0Wife (Park Ave. Neighbor)IMDb
1944Bermuda MysteryAngelaIMDb


As Helene Reynolds

1945The Front PageMollie MalloyIMDb
1948Mirage in Manhattan (Chevrolet Tele-Theatre)IMDb


Family tree


  1. Spinzia, Raymond E. "Those Other Roosevelts: The Fortescues". THE FREEHOLDER: Magazine Online. The Oyster Bay Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  2. Ancestry.co Historical Person Overview: Kenyon "Helene" Fortescue, accessed May 2017.
  3. "Obituary: Helene Fortescue Reynolds". The Washington Post. Mar 31, 1990. p. B5. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  4. "Milestones". Time. July 27, 1936. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  5. "Helene Reyonlds To Seek Friendly Divorce in Reno". The Washington Post. Mar 26, 1939. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  6. Fine, Mary Jane (January 23, 1984). "Reliving a scandalous past". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2009-01-03. "The papers crowed about the wedding, when Helen Fortescue and Julian Reynolds married on July 15, 1936, in Washington, DC, where Helene had grown up. They gloated over the divorce a few years later in story after sparing nary a detail.... The divorce was granted in May of 1939."
  7. "Former Helen Fortesque at Reno to divorce Reynolds". The New York Times. March 28, 1939. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-01-03. "Mrs. Helen E. Fortesque Reynolds arrived here today by plane from New York, prepared to take up residence to divorce Julian Louis Reynolds, tobacco heir."
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