Janis Wilson

Janis Mae Wilson (February 9, 1930 – November 17, 2003) was an American child actress of the 1940s. She is probably best known for her roles in Now, Voyager and Watch on the Rhine opposite Bette Davis as well as for the films The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Snafu.

Janis Wilson
Janis Wilson in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946).jpg
Janice Mae Wilson

(1930-02-09)February 9, 1930
DiedNovember 17, 2003(2003-11-17) (aged 73)
Years active1942–1948
Sidney Victor Petertyl
(m. 1955)


Born in Santa Barbara, California, twelve-year-old Janis' mother had her dentist put bands on her teeth in order for her to win her first role as Tina Durrance, a little girl rejected and unloved by her mother, in the 1942 Bette Davis drama Now, Voyager.[1] Warner Bros. considered Wilson a “sensational discovery”[2] and due to her fondness for the young actress, Davis persuaded the studio to cast her as her daughter in her next film Watch on the Rhine.[3] Wilson starred in just five more films before retiring at age 18 after appearing in the 1948 horror film The Creeper.

Personal lifeEdit

Wilson initially met her future husband Sidney Victor Petertyl on the Warner Bros. lot in 1942 when she was just twelve years old and filming Now, Voyager.[4] They were married in Santa Barbara in 1955 when Janis was 25. The Petertyls had one son and eventually settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan where they lived for 31 years. The family later moved to Spokane, Washington in 1994. In 1996, Wilson stated that she was working on a book about her years as a child actress in Hollywood and her special relationship with Bette Davis.[4] Wilson died of a stroke in Spokane on November 17, 2003.

Filmography (selection)Edit


  1. ^ "Dentist Helps Janis Obtain Screen Role". The Pittsburgh Press. July 6, 1942. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ "Bette takes chance with screen legend". The Daily Notes. Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. July 25, 1942. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  3. ^ Day, Crosby (September 26, 1993). "Cautionary tale about fascism". The Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Bartel, Frank (December 22, 1996). "Retirees find plenty to like about Spokane". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane. Retrieved February 20, 2021.

External linksEdit