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Obituaries

Penny Edwards; Actress Appeared in Numerous Movies, TV Shows

September 02, 1998|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Penny Edwards, a teenage Broadway dancer who moved to Hollywood to make 68 motion pictures ranging from Westerns to comedies and appeared in more than 500 television episodes, has died. She was 70.

Edwards died Aug. 26 of lung cancer in Friendswood, Texas, said her daughter Deborah Winters.

The actress appeared in nearly a score of major Westerns, including six as leading lady to Roy Rogers when his wife, Dale Evans, took a film hiatus: "Trail of Robin Hood," "Spoilers of the Plains," "Heart of the Rockies," "In Old Amarillo," "North of the Great Divide" and "Sunset in the West."

She also played the sweetheart to cowboy heroes Rex Allen, Rocky Lane and Rory Calhoun.

But the perky blond rebelled at the sagebrush typecasting in 1953, telling The Times: "Let's face it, I'm not a cowgirl type. You'd never know it by looking at my last 14 pictures, but I'm a singer and a dancer."

Born Millicent Maxine Edwards in Jackson Heights, N.Y., Edwards hit Broadway at age 15 in the Ziegfeld Follies with Milton Berle. She went on to dance and sing in the shows "Let's Face It," "Laffing Room Only," "Marinka" and "The Duchess Misbehaves."

While a teenager, she occasionally sang with the Municipal Opera Company of St. Louis and had ambitions to become an opera star.

But Hollywood beckoned, and she made her debut in the motion picture "My Wild Irish Rose." After appearing next in "The Adventures of Don Juan," she shared billing with Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan in "That Hagen Girl" in 1947.

Edwards also was in a series of gangster films, including "Million Dollar Pursuit," and a film about the World War II plane the B-29, "The Wild Blue Yonder."

In the 1950s, Edwards moved into television, appearing again in Westerns such as "Wagon Train," "Bonanza," "Wells Fargo" and "Cheyenne," and in mysteries on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Perry Mason."

She returned to New York in the 1960s and worked in television commercials, becoming known as Miss Tiparillo and Miss Palmolive.

She was married twice, to Ralph H. Winters and Jerry Friedman, and was divorced from both. She is survived by two daughters, one son, two brothers and a sister, and four grandchildren.

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