Most widely known to movie audiences for her work in films noir.
Main Street After Dark
The Hidden Eye
Her Highness and the Bellboy
The Sailor Takes a Wife
The Cockeyed Miracle
The Secret Heart
The Beginning or the End
The Saxon Charm
Alias Nick Beal
Any Number Can Play
Under the Gun
The Blue Veil
Assignment – Paris!
My Pal Gus
Woman They Almost Lynched
Man in the Dark
Cruisin’ Down the River
Mission Over Korea
Champ for a Day
A Bullet for Joey
The Vanishing American
Man or Gun
The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again
Audrey Totter was never nominated for an Academy Award.
Audrey Totter was born on December 20, 1917 and grew up in Joliet, Illinois. Her parents were John Totter and Ida Mae Totter.
Totter graduated from Joliet High School, where she “acted in a number of school dramas.” According to Totter, she was a Methodist who also began her career performing in several productions for her local church as well as being involved with the YWCA players.
Totter began her acting career in radio in the latter 1930s in Chicago, only forty miles northeast of Joliet. She played in soap operas, including Painted Dreams, Road of Life, Ma Perkins, and Bright Horizon.
Following success in Chicago and New York City, Totter was signed to a seven-year film contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She made her film debut in Main Street After Dark (1945). Although she performed in various film genres, she became most widely known to movie audiences for her work in film noirs.
By the early 1950s, the tough-talking “dames” she was best known for portraying were no longer fashionable, and as MGM began streamlining its roster of contract players and worked towards creating more family-themed films, Totter was released from her contract. She reportedly was dissatisfied with her MGM career and agreed to appear in Any Number Can Play only after Clark Gable intervened. After leaving MGM, she worked for Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox, but the quality of her films dropped, and by the late 1950s, her film career was in decline, though she continued to work steadily for television.
TV gave her career a slight boost in the 1960s and 1970s, including regular roles in Cimarron City (1958) and Our Man Higgins (1962) as a suburban mom opposite Stanley Holloway’s British butler. After a period of semi-retirement, she came back to TV to replace Jayne Meadows in the popular television series Medical Center in a continuing role from 1972-76, that of Nurse Wilcox, the efficient head nurse. Her last acting role was as a nun, Sister Paul, in a 1987 episode (“Old Habits Die Hard”) of CBS’s Murder, She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury.
Totter was married to Dr. Leo Fred, assistant dean of the UCLA School of Medicine from 1953 until his death in 1995; they had one child. Their granddaughter, Eden Totter, is a voice artist.
Totter died of a stroke on December 12, 2013, eight days before her 96th birthday. She was cremated, and her ashes scattered at sea.