Prolific Contract Player
Beautiful, competent, stylish, Margaret Lindsay originally started out as a stage actress and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before moving to England to hone her craft on the London stage. It was her convincing British accent that led to a contract with Universal Studios in 1932. Universal loaned her out to Columbia and Fox until Warner Bros. picked up her option and gave her a real shot.
Between 1932 and 1948, Lindsay would make about 75 pictures, many of them A-pictures in supporting roles (jilted lover, faithful wife, patient girlfriend), very few of them in lead parts, and of those, all but a few in second-string, lower-budget fare.
Born in Dubuque, Iowa, the eldest of six children, Margaret Kies knew early on she wanted to be on stage. When her film opportunities dried up in the late 1940s, Lindsay turned to television and occasional movies
She never quite broke out as a star, but if you're a pre-Code Warner Bros. fan, you can't help but run across this likable, talented performer. Lindsay had a few break-out performances, most notably in The House of the Seven Gables opposite George Sanders and Vincent Price, but generally, she was the capable, dependable ingenue until time and studio imagination limited her opportunities.
There isn't a lot written about Margaret Lindsay, which is a shame. The fact that she managed to convince her parents to send her to acting school when they had many other kids to support; that she was successful enough to get a Hollywood contract before her 22nd birthday; and that she was a comparatively out lesbian for most of her life, makes me think the life of Margaret Lindsay would make truly interesting reading.
Her long-time companion was stage and television performer, Mary McCarty (tough Nurse Willoughby on Trapper John, M.D.), who, though younger by 13 years, predeceased Lindsay by one year.
Margaret Lindsay passed away on May 9, 1981 of emphysema at the age of 70.
I recommend Jezebel for a good representation of the bulk of Lindsay's best work. She is secondary, but memorable, and occasionally gets to give Bette Davis some choice looks.
The House of the Seven Gables (1940)
Ellery Queen Mystery Series (1940-1942)
The Spoilers (1942)
Scarlet Street (1945)
This post is my contribution to the CMBA Blogathon: Forgotten Stars. Please take a moment to review all the excellent entries by other members of the Classic Movie Blog Association.