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Beatrice Joan Caulfield (June 1, 1922 – June 18, 1991) was an American actress and former fashion model. After being discovered by Broadway producers, she began a stage career in 1943 that eventually led to signing as an actress with Paramount Pictures.

Joan Caulfield
Joan Caulfield Sept 1941.jpg
September 1941 McCall's Magazine cover image of Joan Caulfield
Beatrice Joan Caulfield

(1922-06-01)June 1, 1922
DiedJune 18, 1991(1991-06-18) (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1941–1987
Spouse(s)Dr. Robert Peterson (1960–1966) (divorced) 1 son
Frank Ross (1950–1960) (divorced) 1 son


Early yearsEdit

Born Beatrice Joan Caulfield while her family resided in East Orange, New Jersey,[1] she moved to West Orange during childhood[2] but continued attending Miss Beard's School in Orange, New Jersey.[3] During her teenage years, the family moved to New York City, where Joan eventually attended Columbia University.

Caulfield was the niece of Genevieve Caulfield, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 for her work with blind children.[4]

While at Columbia, Caulfield was active in many plays presented by the university's drama group. She also ventured into being a model with the Harry Conover Agency and "became a favorite with top-drawer fashion magazines," with her pictures appearing in many national magazines,[5] including being on the cover of Life magazine's May 11, 1942, issue.[6]


Caulfield appeared on Broadway in Beat the Band in 1942.[7] She had a great success portraying the troublesome teenager Corliss Archer in the 1943 hit comedy play Kiss and Tell. After a year in the role, she left the production to pursue offers from Hollywood and she was replaced by her sister Betty Caulfield.


In the opinion of Ephraim Katz in The Film Encyclopedia, published in 1979, "For several years she was among Paramount's top stars, radiating delicate femininity and demure beauty but rarely much else."[1] One of Caulfield's most memorable film roles was when she was loaned out to Warner Bros. to appear in The Unsuspected (1947) with Claude Rains and Audrey Totter.


Being the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life brought Caulfield to the attention of television executives. In the words of a newspaper writer, "She photographed so beautifully that the show was hardly over before she was being approached for television appearances."[8] She eventually appeared on programs such as Cheyenne, Baretta, and Murder, She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury.

During the 1957–1958 season, Caulfield starred in Sally, a short-lived situation comedy, in the role of a traveling companion to an elderly widow, played by Marion Lorne. At midseason, Gale Gordon and Arte Johnson joined the cast.[9] Earlier, in the 1953 and 1954 seasons,[5] she had co-starred with Barry Nelson (the original James Bond, albeit on television) in the television version of My Favorite Husband,[8] which was based upon the Lucille Ball radio series that had evolved into I Love Lucy.

In 1967, she starred in the TV series The High Chaparral as Annalee Cannon in the pilot episode. She was murdered in the episode and that was the premise for the whole plot.

Later yearsEdit

In the 1960s and 1970s, Caulfield was active in touring companies of plays, summer stock theater and dinner theater "across the country."[5]


Caulfield has a star at 1500 Vine Street in the Television section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated February 8, 1960.[10]

Cultural legacyEdit

An urban legend states that Caulfield's film Dear Ruth (1947) inspired author J.D. Salinger to name the protagonist of his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) "Holden Caulfield" after seeing a movie theater marquee with the film's stars: Caulfield and William Holden. However, Holden Caulfield was mentioned in Salinger's short story "Last Day of the Last Furlough" in the July 15, 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, three years before Dear Ruth.[11] The earliest known use of the Caulfield name, including a mention of Holden, is in the unpublished 1942 story "The Last and Best of the Peter Pans."[12] A more common version of the legend claims that Salinger was taken by Joan Caulfield upon first seeing her in a modeling photo or a publicity still or an acting performance.[13][14] Since Joan was a leading model by 1941 and her acting career began in 1942 with an appearance in the short-lived Broadway musical Beat the Band,[15] this version of the legend makes his using her surname for his character at least possible.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1950, Caulfield married the film producer Frank Ross, with whom she had a son, Caulfield Kevin Ross (b. 1959). Ross produced and directed her 1951 film The Lady Says No, with David Niven taking second billing as her romantic interest. Ross and Caulfield were divorced in 1960.[16] She later married Robert Peterson, a dentist, with whom she had her second son, John Caulfield Peterson (b. 1962). Her second marriage ended in divorce as well.

Caulfield was a Republican who campaigned for Dwight Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential election[17].


Caulfield died, aged 69, from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and had lived in Beverly Hills, California.[2]

At the time of her death, she had one grandchild. She died within 24 hours of actress Jean Arthur, the first wife of her husband Frank Ross, Jr. Arthur had been married to Ross in 1932, and they divorced in 1949.

Partial filmographyEdit

Radio appearancesEdit

Year Program Episode/source
1946 Lux Radio Theatre Miss Susie Slagle's[20]


  1. ^ a b Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2. P. 218.
  2. ^ a b Fowler, Glenn. "Joan Caulfield, A Film Actress, Is Dead at 69", The New York Times, June 20, 1991. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  3. ^ Joan Caulfield, Actress, Obituaries Today. Accessed October 23, 2007. "At Miss Beard’s, a local private school, Joan made her stage debut in A Kiss for Cinderella."
  4. ^ Moss, Ruth (October 20, 1963). "She Proves the Blind Can Lead the Blind!". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-Section 5. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Joan Caulfield To Shine At Hayloft". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. July 23, 1972. p. 80. Retrieved September 30, 2015 – via  
  6. ^ "Model Becomes Broadway Actress". Life. April 12, 1943. p. 46. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Joan Caulfield". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  8. ^ a b "A Style Show With Joan Caulfield". The Times. July 6, 1957. p. 11. Retrieved September 30, 2015 – via  
  9. ^ "Sally". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  10. ^ "Joan Caulfield". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  11. ^ Saturday Evening Post, July 15, 1944
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  13. ^ Richler, Mordecai. "SUMMER READING; RISES AT DAWN, WRITES, THEN RETIRES", The New York Times, June 5, 1988. Accessed October 23, 2007. "We are told, for instance, that the name Holden Caulfield probably came from joining the name of a boyhood friend called Holden to that of the movie actress Joan Caulfield, on whom Mr. Salinger once had a crush."
  14. ^ Honan, William H. "Shylock To Sherlock A Study In Names", The New York Times, February 9, 1997. Accessed October 23, 2007. "J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, he said, resulted from the writer's combining the last names of a friend named Holden and the actress Joan Caulfield."
  15. ^
  16. ^ Scott, Vernon (December 6, 1959). "Joan Caulfield, Real Life Soap Opera Heroine". Chicago Tribune. p. 3D. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  17. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 34, Ideal Publishers
  18. ^ Anderson, Nancy (January 24, 1975). "Trappings of stardom tempted Joan Caulfield". Valley Morning Star. p. 16. Retrieved October 1, 2015 – via  
  19. ^ a b Johnson, Erskine (August 1, 1949). "'New' Joan Caulfield Has Curvaceous Petty Girl Role". Dixon Evening Telegraph. p. 7. Retrieved September 30, 2015 – via  
  20. ^ "Lux Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 19, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via  

External linksEdit