Joan Winfield

Joan Winfield (24 September 1918 – 16 June 1978) was an Australian-born actress and talented violinist, who appeared in Hollywood films in the 1940s, mostly in uncredited roles. She married director and writer John Meredyth Lucas in 1951.

Joan Winfield
Joan Marie Therese MacGillicuddy

(1918-09-24)24 September 1918
Melbourne, Australia
Died16 June 1978(1978-06-16) (aged 59)
Van Nuys, California, United States
Years active1941–1957
Spouse(s)John Meredyth Lucas (9 August 1951 – 16 June 1978) (her death)

Childhood in Australia

She was born Joan Marie Therese MacGillicuddy and grew up in East Melbourne, the second daughter of Dr. Maurice MacGillicuddy and his wife Nell.[1] Joan and older sister Mauricette attended Catholic Ladies College in nearby Grey St, East Melbourne. Her father was a well-known Melbourne doctor, and both parents were active in the Catholic Church and Melbourne charity work. As children, Joan and Mauricette were encouraged to develop a love of music. Mauricette was an accomplished pianist while Joan became a noted violinist while still in her teens.[2] Joan also performed onstage in charity pantomimes in Melbourne in 1930 and 1931.[3]

Travel overseas and film career

In April 1936, Joan accompanied her parents and Mauricette to England.[4] According to John Meredyth Lucas's memoirs, Maurice had discovered he had cancer, and decided to take the family for an extended trip overseas, to make the most of life while he could. Joan studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was presented at Court in July 1937. In mid-1939 the family moved to New York. Lucas states Joan met a Warner Bros. talent scout at a New York party and soon found herself at work in Hollywood.[5]

Joan's stage surname was changed by the studio ("Joan Winfield" was a character Bette Davis had played in The Bride Came C.O.D.) and she was offered several roles in B films at Warner Bros. She was presented by studio publicists as a stereotypical pin-up girl, supposedly popular with Australian soldiers.[6] However, despite the positive publicity, most of her forty film appearances were minor or un-credited roles. She met John Meredyth Lucas on the set of one of these, the wartime spy drama The Gorilla Man, a B film made in 1943. They married in 1951 and raised three children, Elizabeth, Victoria and Michael.

Later life

Most of Winfield's later films were bit parts, often in the films of father-in-law Michael Curtiz, the last being The Helen Morgan Story, made in 1957. In 1959, Lucas was offered the role of associate producer, director, and scriptwriter on the Australian TV series Whiplash, an imaginative retelling of the Cobb and Co story starring Peter Graves. Joan and John took their young family to Australia while the series was made, her first visit home in twenty-five years.

Joan devoted much of her later life to charity work, becoming President of the US charity SHARE. She developed lung cancer in the later 1970s and died, aged 59, in 1978.[7]

Her sister, Mauricette, took the name Dale Melbourne and appeared on the New York stage.

Selected filmography


  1. John Meredyth Lucas (2004) Eighty Odd Years in Hollywood; Memoir of a Career in Film and Television. p.171. McFarland & Co, North Carolina. ISBN 0 7864 1838 9
  2. "SUCCESSFUL CONCERT" The Williamstown Chronicle (National Library of Australia) 29 June 1935. p.3. Retrieved 12 October 2013
  3. "DOLLS' HOUSE TEA PARTY" The Argus (National Library of Australia) 16 June 1930, p.5. Retrieved 12 October 2013
  4. "YOUNG PIANIST GOING ABROAD FOR FURTHER STUDY" The Australian Women's Weekly. 15 February 1936, p.92. Retrieved 12 October 2013
  5. Maurice MacGillicuddy died in New York in 1942. See "OBITUARY: DR. M.P.MACGILLICUDDY" The Argus (National Library of Australia) 18 Aug 1942. Retrieved 12 October 2013
  6. "PICKED BY AUSTRALIANS". Morning Bulletin,(Qld : 1874-1954)(National Library of Australia) 1 May, 1945. Retrieved 12 October 2013
  7. Lucas (2004) P.274-277
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