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'Star Trek': Chris Pine's grandmother was Universal horror icon

May 19, 2013|By Susan King
  • Anne Gwynne, seen in 1941's "The Black Cat" with Broderick Crawford, left, John Eldredge, and Alan Ladd, was the grandmother of Chris Pine of "Star Trek Into Darkness."
Anne Gwynne, seen in 1941's "The Black Cat" with Broderick… (Universal Pictures )

Chris Pine, who plays the young Captain James T. Kirk in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” hails from a family of actors: mother Gwynne Gilford, father Robert Pine (Sgt. Joseph Getraer on “CHiPs”), sister Katherine Pine and his late grandmother, Anne Gwynne.

In fact, Anne Gwynne was a horror icon at Universal in the 1940s, appearing in such classics of the genre as “House of Frankenstein,” and also starring in sci-fi serials, westerns and even musical-comedies at the studio.

Born in 1918 in Waco, Texas, the former Marguerite Gwynne Trice became interested in acting while attending Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. A beauty queen — she was a Miss San Antonio — the vivacious redhead became a model for Catalina Swimwear in Los Angeles. While acting in small theatrical productions, Gwynne was spotted by a talent scout and signed in 1939 to Universal, where she would make over 40 films.

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Gwynne became one of the studio's leading scream queens in 1940's "Black Friday," 1941’s “The Black Cat” and, most notably, in 1944’s “House of Frankenstein,” in which she played Rita, a victim of John Carradine’s vampire.

She also ventured into the sci-fi realm, playing the evil Lady Sonya, a henchman of the nefarious Ming the Merciless, in the 1940 serial “Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe.”

Other credits at Universal included the 1942 western “Men of Texas” and the 1942 Abbott & Costello musical-comedy “Ride 'Em Cowboy.”

Tom Weaver, an author and expert on horror films, told The Times at the time of Gwynne’s death in 2003 at the age of 84, that “to the fans of Universal horror films of the 1940s, Anne was one of the best and most popular leading ladies. Anne was the spunky, bubbly, very American girl-next-door type — the stuff of instant crushes for these movies’ mostly male audiences.”

In fact, Gwynne was voted the No. 1 pinup girl of World War II servicemen in 1943-44 by Yank magazine. When she graced the cover both years, Universal was flooded with letters from the servicemen about her.

In 1947, Gwynne made TV history as one of the stars of the first filmed series, “Public Prosecutor," which aired on the DuMont Television Network.

After marrying and becoming a mother, Gwynne cut back on her acting but continued to do TV guest spots and commercials. Her last film was 1970’s “Adam at 6 a.m,” with Michael Douglas.

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