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Slender, blonde actor Barbara Lawrence almost always played the "little sister" role in her movies. She was born February 24, 1930, in Carnegie, Oklahoma, to Morris and Bernice Eaton Lawrence, who soon moved to California. A child model from age five, Barbara Lawrence became Little Miss Hollywood of 1942. Her 1946 screen debut came in Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe. Lawrence's 1940s films included Margie (1946, Jeanne Crain), Captain from Castile (1947, Tyrone Power), Unfaithfully Yours (1948, Rex Harrison and Linda Darnell), and Mother is a Freshman (1949, Loretta Young). In 1949 she appeared in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Oscar-winning A Letter to Three Wives.

In the 1950s Lawrence's star began to fade. Her next features included The Star (1952, Bette Davis) and Here Come the Nelsons (1952, Ozzie, Harriet, David, and Ricky Nelson). The mid-1950s craze of Westerns brought her roles in unremarkable "B" movies such as Arena (1953), Jesse James vs. the Daltons (1954), Man with the Gun (1955) and Man in the Shadow (1957).

Her most important role, for Oklahomans, was the giddy, irrepressible Gertie Cummings in the 1955 movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1955 musical,Oklahoma! Two years later, she left the silver screen. Married three times, Barbara Lawrence had four children. She retired to a career in real estate in Beverly Hills.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jim Connor, Hollywood Starlet: The Career of Barbara Lawrence (New York: S-L-P Publications, 1977). International Motion Picture Almanac 2000 (La Jolla, Calif.: Quigley Publishing Company, Inc., 2000).

Dianna Everett

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