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Obituaries

Muriel Evans; Actress Starred in Many Westerns in the '30s and '40s

October 30, 2000|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Muriel Evans, the blond Hollywood motion picture actress who dazzled Hopalong Cassidy and other Western heroes in sagebrush sagas of the 1930s and 1940s, has died at the age of 90.

Evans died Thursday of colon cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Home in Woodland Hills, said her friend, Kathleen Cook.

The versatile beauty appeared in more than 40 motion pictures over the two decades, including an uncredited role in Frank Capra's Academy Award-winning 1936 "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" starring Gary Cooper. But she probably was best remembered for her westerns, which earned her a "Golden Boot Award" presented to top stars of the genre.

In addition to "Call of the Prairie" and other films opposite William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd, Evans made such movies as "Law for Tombstone" and "Boss Rider of Gun Creek" with Buck Jones and several films co-starring Tom Mix.

Among her other films, along with Laurel and Hardy comedies, were "The Prizefighter and the Lady," "Manhattan Melodrama," "The Greeks Had a Name for Them" and "Broadway to Hollywood."

A Times entertainment writer evaluated Evans in 1936 as "minus the sham and hypocrisy, the false glitter, glamour and tinsel of make-believe . . . [with] sterling qualities, a versatile flair for comedy and dramatic acting, a lovable nature, loyalty for her friends." He predicted that she would "achieve the pinnacle of filmdom."

Born in Minneapolis, Minn., Evans began acting as a child. At 12, she was working in a stock theater company. By 16 she was in silent films as leading lady for the comedian Lupino Lane.

Her career interrupted by her parents' insistence that she complete her education, Evans resumed acting in 1932, churning out five films that year including "Pack Up Your Troubles."

The actress, known for avoiding debt, lived in a modest San Fernando Valley home, drove a modest car, and bought inexpensive suits and dresses even as her career blossomed.

After a brief marriage to Michael Cudahy, wealthy scion of a meatpacking family, she married stockbroker Marshall Worchester in 1936. Her film career ended a few years later.

The retired actress lived for many years in Tarzana and had volunteered to assist entertainment industry retirees living at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Country Home and Hospital. As her own health declined, she lived there herself.

Muriel Evans Worchester left no surviving relatives. Cook said there will be no public services, but memorial donations can be sent to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills, CA 91364-2792.

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