Joyce in the 1940s
Betty Graftina Leabo|
February 25, 1917
Excelsior Springs, Missouri, U.S.
July 4, 2009 (aged 92)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Other names||Betty Ward|
Owen Ward (1941–1960) (divorced) (3 children)|
? Bemis (?-?)
Howard Mager (?-?)
Pamela Ann (b. 1942)|
Timothy Owen and Beth Victoria
When she was 5 years old, she moved with her mother to San Bernardino, California, staying there through her junior high school years. They moved to Los Angeles, California, where she attended high school. She entered the University of Southern California on a scholarship but transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles after one semester.
Between her years in college and those in film, Joyce was a model for photographers. She appeared "in current magazines -- in new automobiles, using toothpaste, modeling shoes, smiling her way through the glossy life of a magazine girl."
Although she appeared in many B-movies of the 1940s, she had a prominent supporting role in the major 1939 film The Rains Came opposite George Brent and Myrna Loy, and was cast as Maris Hanover in the 1942 film, Little Tokyo, U.S.A.. She is best-remembered as the seventh actress to play Jane in the Tarzan series of films. She succeeded Maureen O'Sullivan in the series and appeared in the role five times.
Her first four appearances as Jane were opposite Johnny Weissmuller. However, her last performance as Jane, in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949), was with Lex Barker as Tarzan. Joyce and Karla Schramm, from the silent era, were the only two actresses to play Jane opposite two different actors playing Tarzan.
She retired from acting in 1949.
Joyce retired "at the peak of her career to raise a family." Later, as Betty Ward, she became director of the Catholic Resettlement Office in Monterey, California, and "helped hundreds of refugees find new lives in America."
She was married to Owen Ward, whom she had known "since her junior high school days," from 1941 until their divorce in 1960; they had three children, Pamela Ann, Timothy Owen and Beth Victoria.
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