Vanessa Brown

Vanessa Brown (born Smylla Brind, March 24, 1928 – May 21, 1999) was an Austrian-born American actress who was successful in radio, film, theater, and television.

Vanessa Brown
Brown in 1951
Smylla Brind

(1928-03-24)March 24, 1928
DiedMay 21, 1999(1999-05-21) (aged 71)
Years active1944–1991
Robert Alan Franklyn
(m. 1950; div. 1957)

Mark Sandrich Jr.
(m. 1959; div. 1989)

Early life

Born in Vienna, Austria, to Jewish parents (Nah Brind, a language teacher, and Anna Brind, a psychologist[1]), Brown and her family fled to Paris, France in 1937 to escape persecution by the Nazi regime.

Within a few years the family had settled in America and Brown auditioned for Lillian Hellman for a role in Watch on the Rhine. Fluent in several languages, the youngster impressed Hellman with her presence and authentic Teutonic accent, and she was signed as understudy to Ann Blyth,[2] eventually doing the role of Babette on Broadway and in the touring production. In high school she wrote and directed school plays. She graduated from UCLA in 1949, having majored in English. While there, she was movie critic and feature writer for the Daily Bruin, the campus newspaper.[3]


Brown's IQ of 165 led to two years of work as one of the young panelists on the radio series Quiz Kids. She specialized in literature and language.[4] In her adult years, she had an interview program on the Voice of America.[5]

She was also heard on Lux Radio Theatre, Skippy Hollywood Theatre, NBC University Theatre, and Theatre Guild on the Air.[4]


Brown was a junior member of the National Board of Review,[6] the critical panel serving the motion picture industry. RKO Radio Pictures brought her family to Los Angeles, and Brown made her film debut (as Tessa Brind) in Youth Runs Wild (1944).[7] RKO changed her screen name to Vanessa Brown and assigned her to a series of ingenue roles over the next few years. In the late 1940s she was featured in The Late George Apley (1947), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) as Mrs. Muir's grown daughter Anna, Big Jack (1949; Wallace Beery's last movie), The Heiress (1949) and other films. She was the eighth actress to play the role of Jane, appearing in Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950) opposite Lex Barker, followed by a role in Vincente Minnelli's acclaimed The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Her last film appearance was playing Millie Perkins's sister in the cult horror film The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976).


In the 1950s, Brown was a regular panelist on I'll Buy That on CBS.[8] She also acted in live television dramas of the early 1950s, including Robert Montgomery Presents and The Philco Television Playhouse, and appeared on Pantomime Quiz and Leave It to the Girls. She later appeared on such television series as The Wonder Years and Murder, She Wrote. She also had a guest appearance on Perry Mason as Donna Kress in the 1959 episode, "The Case of Paul Drake's Dilemma".


Back on Broadway, she originated the role of "The Girl" in The Seven Year Itch, the character portrayed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1955 film version. She continued to do much television through the 1950s, and was one of the narrators of the United World Federalists documentary Eight Steps to Peace (1957), along with Vincent Price and Robert Ryan.

Brown also ventured into writing for the stage. She was the author of Europa and the Bull, based on the legend of Europa.[9]


Brown was active in the Democratic Party, serving as a delegate to the party's national convention in 1956.[10] In 1962, she was a member of a committee that promoted a write-in campaign for Adlai Stevenson as governor of California.[11]


In 1959, Brown was described in a newspaper article as "a promising artist whose oil paintings hang in the homes of top film colony personalities."[12] She signed her paintings with her birth name, Symila.[12] A gallery in Beverly Hills, California, held a one-woman show of her work in 1958.[1]

Personal life

Brown was married to Dr. Robert Alan Franklyn, a prominent plastic surgeon, from 1950 to 1957. In 1959, she married television director Mark Sandrich, Jr. – son of director Mark Sandrich – and they had two children, David Michael and Cathy Lisa.[5]

Her marriage to Sandrich ended in divorce, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, and she lost her home during an earthquake in 1989. The surgery she received for her cancer appeared to have been successful, and she believed she had been cured, however the disease returned. The last few years of her life were spent in very poor health, before her death at age 71 in the Motion Picture Country Home, Woodland Hills, California. Upon her death, she was cremated and her ashes returned to her son, David.[13]

Brown has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a motion pictures star at 1621 Vine Street and a television star at 6528 Hollywood Boulevard.[14]


1944Youth Runs WildSarah Taylor
1945The Girl of the LimberlostHelen Brownlee
1946I've Always Loved YouGeorgette 'Porgy' Sampter at 17
1947The Late George ApleyAgnes Willing
1947The Ghost and Mrs. MuirAnna Muir as an Adult
1947Mother Wore TightsBessie
1947The Foxes of HarrowAurore D'Arceneaux
1949Big JackPatricia Mahoney
1949The Secret of St. IvesFloria Gilchrist
1949The HeiressMaria
1950Tarzan and the Slave GirlJane
1950Three HusbandsMary Whittaker
1951The Basketball FixPat Judd
1952The FighterKathy
1952The Bad and the BeautifulKay Amiel
1967Rosie!Edith Shaw
1971Bless the Beasts and ChildrenMrs. Goodenow
1976The Witch Who Came From the SeaCathy

Radio appearances

1946Hollywood Star TimeThe Song of Bernadette[15]
1957SuspenseEpisode 107 – The Vanishing Lady


  1. Oliver, Myrna (May 24, 1999). "Vanessa Brown; Actress, Writer and Artist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  2. "They Know the Land Whereof They Act". Illinois, Alton. Alton Evening Telegraph. May 3, 1941. p. 5. Retrieved December 31, 2015 via
  3. Handsaker, Gene (August 23, 1946). "In Hollywood". Ironwood Daily Globe. p. 12. Retrieved May 27, 2015 via
  4. DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2. p. 43.
  5. "Another character star". The Post-Crescent. August 30, 1970. p. 111. Retrieved May 27, 2015 via
  6. Wolf, Tom (April 3, 1941). "Youth Reviews Movies". Wisconsin, Rhinelander. The Rhinelander Daily News. p. 4. Retrieved December 31, 2015 via
  7. "The Young Reviewers". National Board of Review Magazine. 19 (8): 14. December 1944. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  8. Chapman, Philip (November 1953). "an exciting girl named Brown". Radio and Television Mirror. 40 (6): 57, 87–89. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  9. "Gorgeous (And Brainy) Vanessa Brown Is Making A Splash In Literary World". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. September 6, 1953. p. 57. Retrieved May 27, 2015 via
  10. Kilgallen, Dorothy (July 3, 1956). "Voice of Broadway". Shamokin News-Dispatch. p. 4. Retrieved May 27, 2015 via
  11. "Contest". Independent. September 29, 1962. p. 2. Retrieved May 27, 2015 via
  12. "Actress Becomes Promising Artist". Independent. October 5, 1959. p. 17. Retrieved May 27, 2015 via
  13. Wilson, Scott (16 September 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland via Google Books.
  14. "Hollywood Walk of Fame – Vanessa Brown". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  15. "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 41 (2): 32–41. Spring 2015.
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