Linda Watkins

Linda Mathews Watkins (May 23, 1908 in Boston, Massachusetts – October 31, 1976 in Los Angeles, California) was an American stage, film and television actress.

Linda Watkins
Portrait of Linda Watkins by Carl Van Vechten, 1937.
Linda Mathews Watkins

(1908-05-23)23 May 1908
Died31 October 1976(1976-10-31) (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Years active1925 1974
Spouse(s)Gabriel L. Hess

Early years

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Watkins was the daughter of Gardiner and Elizabeth R. (née Mathews) Watkins.[1] Her father was active in real estate in Boston. She was related to physicist Albert A. Michelson and painter Arthur Radclyffe Dugmore.[2]

Watkins attended a teachers' college because her parents wanted her to teach. She later went to study at the Theatre Guild.[3]


After six months Watkins began to appear with the Theater Guild's summer repertory program in Scarborough, New York. Three weeks after she finished a course at the Theater Guild's Dramatic School, she had the lead in The Devil in the Cheese.[4] When producer Charles Hopkins[5] asked Watkins if she preferred playing comedy or drama, she replied, "Tragedy". He was casting for a comedy production and Watkins was offered the lead role.

Watkins gained additional acting experience during a season with the Hartman stock theater company in Columbus, Ohio, after which the Shubert Organization gave her the lead in its Chicago production of Trapped.[3]

Aged 17, she performed in the Tom Cushing comedy The Devil In The Cheese with Fredric March at the Charles Hopkins Theater in New York City.[6] In 1928, she appeared in the Forest Theater production of Trapped by Samuel Shipman. She appeared in a revival of The Wild Duck in November 1928, starred in the George S. Kaufman/Ring Lardner comedy June Moon in 1929, and co-starred with Ralph Morgan in Sweet Stranger in 1930.[7]

Motion pictures

She debuted in movies in Sob Sister (1931), a film in which she plays a female reporter. Reviewer Muriel Babcock remarked that Watkins "is cool, blond, poised, good to look upon. She plays the title role with admirable restraint and gives every evidence of being a comer in films."

Her second movie was Good Sport (1931), a screen adaptation of a story by William J. Hurlbut.

Produced by the Fox Film Company, Watkins played Marilyn Parker, a naive wife caught up in a love triangle. Her co-stars were Alan Dinehart and John Boles. She appeared in Charlie Chan's Chance, a lost 1932 film starring Warner Oland as the famous detective.[8] Edmund Lowe and Watkins co-starred in Cheaters at Play (1932).

Her other film credits included From Hell It Came (1957), Ten North Frederick (1958), As Young as We Are (1958), Cash McCall (1960), Because They're Young (1960), The Parent Trap (1961), Good Neighbor Sam (1964), Huckleberry Finn (1974) and Bad Ronald (1974).[8]


Watkins married lawyer Gabriel L. Hess, a widower, at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago on January 28, 1932.[9] He was attorney for Will Hays and the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. The couple had a son, Adam Hess, who died in 1969; he left three daughters, Elizabeth, Faye, and Emily, Watkins' granddaughters. Watkins obtained her release from Fox prior to her marriage.[8]


Watkins appeared in numerous television broadcasts beginning with an episode of The Billy Rose Show in 1950. Other shows in which she performed are Wagon Train (1957), Death Valley Days (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1958), M Squad (1957), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1957–1958), Peter Gunn (1959), Perry Mason (1959), The David Niven Show (1959), The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1958), Gunsmoke (Season 4, Episode 23 "Sky"), Gunsmoke (Season 6, Episode 15 "Old Fool"), Gunsmoke season 7 (episode 3 Miss Kitty) Gunsmoke (Season 10 Episode 6 "Take Her, She's Cheap") The Asphalt Jungle (1961), The Munsters, Hazel (1963–64), and The Doris Day Show (1968).[8]

She also appeared as Emily Hull, the mother of Sally McMillan (Susan St. James), in several episodes of McMillan & Wife. One of her last television appearances was as a guest star on The Waltons in 1973 as Maggie MacKenzie, in the episode "The Journey".[8]


Linda Watkins died in Los Angeles in 1976, aged 68, from undisclosed causes.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
1931Sob SisterJane Ray
1931Good SportMarilyn Parker
1932Charlie Chan's ChanceGloria Garland
1932Cheaters at PlayTess Boyce
1932The Gay CaballeroAnn Grey
1933Playthings of DesireGloria Dawn
1957From Hell It CameMrs. Mae Kilgore
1958Going SteadyAunt Lola
1958Ten North FrederickPeg Slattery
1958As Young as We AreMrs. Hutchins
1960Cash McCallMarie Austen
1960Because They're YoungFrances McCalla
1961The Parent TrapEdna Robinson
1964Good Neighbor SamEdna Bailey
1974Huckleberry FinnMrs. Grangerford
1974Bad RonaldMrs. SchumacherTV movie, (final film role)


  1. Parents' names from Massachusetts Vital Records, 1908 births, vol. 577, pg. 101.
  2. Peak, Mayme Ober (August 20, 1931). "Selection of 'Baby Stars' Causes Row in Filmdom". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. p. 26. Retrieved July 12, 2018 via
  3. "Linda Watkins Says She Owes Ohio Debt". The Akron Beacon Journal. Ohio, Akron. October 2, 1931. p. 18. Retrieved July 12, 2018 via
  4. "Sidelights of the Stage and Screen". The Billings Gazette. Montana, Billings. February 27, 1927. p. 21. Retrieved July 12, 2018 via
  5. Charles Hopkins at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. Devil in the Cheese at the Internet Broadway Database
  7. "Linda Watkins". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 13 July 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  8. Linda Watkins on IMDb
  9. Gah1965 (10 October 2008). "HOLLYWOOD HEYDAY: January 29, 1932".


  • Fresno Bee, "Linda Watkins Hinted To Be A Bride", January 27, 1932, pg. 5.
  • Los Angeles Times, "Baby Stars Vote Splits Up WAMPAS", August 15, 1931, pg. A1.
  • Los Angeles Times, "New Move Marks War On Wampas", August 24, 1931, pg. A1.
  • Los Angeles Times, "Studios Place Stars Together", August 29, 1931, pg. 11.
  • Los Angeles Times, "Sob Sister Proffered At Loews", October 23, 1931, pg. A11.
  • New York Times, "A New Ingenue", January 9, 1927, pg. X4.
  • New York Times, "Trapped To Open Aug. 7", July 25, 1928, pg. 13.
  • New York Times, "In Sweet Stranger Cast", August 28, 1930, pg. 27.
  • New York Times, "The Screen", December 12, 1931, pg. 23.
  • New York Times, "Linda Watkins Weds G.L. Hess In Chicago", January 29, 1932, pg. 12.
  • Zanesville Register, "Along Broadway", Monday, May 4, 1959, pg. 5.
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