This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Joan Davis (1907-61)

Madonna Josephine Davis was born June 29, 1907, in St. Paul, Minnesota. She left school early and became a vaudeville comedian with her husband, Si Wills (real name Simon Williams, 1896-1977) long before they were married. They were married in 1931. In 1932, Joan was in Hollywood, making short comedy films for a company called Educational Films. Despite its sage sounding name, it was actually just the opposite. That company was an arm of 20th Century Fox, which offered her a contract in 1935. She did an average of about two movies a year (mostly B-movies) until the early 1950s, when she was called upon to be the female lead in a sitcom, I Married Joan.

During her movie days, she worked on a number of radio shows, beginning in 1942, with the Sealtest Variety Store. In 1945, she began her own comedy series on CBS, which was actually a carryover of the Sealtest program.

Joan was, first and foremost, a comedian. Her daughter, Beverly Wills (born Beverly Josephine Williams... 1934-63), had intended to follow in her mother's footsteps but that was never to be. the biggest part she ever got was on her mother's series, I Married Joan, in which she played Joan's sister.

After I Married Joan, she went into semi-retirement and lived in a house in Palm Springs with her daughter, son-in-law, mother, and two grandsons. Sadly, Joan passed way of a heart attack on May 22, 1961, at her home in Palm Springs, California, at the age of 53. But that's not the sad end to this story:

Even though, Joan had died, her family still lived in the house. On October 24, 1963, Beverly fell asleep while smoking. Before she could figure what happened, the room was in flames. Her sons, her grandmother, and she all perished in the flames. She was only 29 years old.

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