Brenda Marshall

Brenda Marshall
Born Ardis Ankerson
(1915-09-29)September 29, 1915
Negros, Philippines
Died July 30, 1992(1992-07-30) (aged 76)
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1939–1950
Spouse(s) Richard Gaines (1936–1940) (divorced)
William Holden (1941–1971) (divorced)
Children Virginia (Gaines) Holden
Peter Westfield Holden
Scott Porter Holden

Brenda Marshall (September 29, 1915 – July 30, 1992), was an American film actress. She was born Ardis Ankerson in the Phillippines. However, she was best known by her stage name of Brenda Marshall. There seemed to be some question regarding the exact date of her birth. An article in the December 31, 1939, issue of The Salt Lake Tribune says that she was born November 29, 1915.[1]


Born in Negros, Philippines, Marshall made her first film appearance in the 1939 Espionage Agent. The following year, she played the leading lady to Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk. After divorcing actor Richard Gaines in 1940, she married the actor William Holden in 1941 and her own career quickly slowed. She starred opposite James Cagney in Captains of the Clouds (1942).

Marshall had a popular success in The Constant Nymph (1943), but she virtually retired after this, appearing in only four more inconsequential films. In one of these, she played scientist Nora Goodrich in the B picture cult classic Strange Impersonation (1946). In 1955, five years after her last film role, she made an appearance as herself (billed as Mrs. William Holden) in the fourth-season episode of I Love Lucy entitled "The Fashion Show".

Personal life

Matron of honor Brenda Marshall and best man William Holden, sole guests at Ronald and Nancy Reagan's wedding in 1952.

She was born Ardis Ankerson on September 29, 1915 in Negros, Philippines,[2] the younger of two daughters of Otto Peter Ankerson, overseer of a large sugar plantation near Bacolod. Her mother died in 1925 when she was young[3] so she and her sister Ruth attended grammar school and began high school studies as boarding students at the Brent School in Baguio City[4] In the early 1930s the girls were then sent to San Antonio, Texas to complete high school.[5] She attended Texas Woman's College for her freshman and sophomore years, 1934-35. She was named the Freshman Class Beauty in 1934, chosen by modern dancer Ted Shawn.[6]

Brenda Marshall was her stage name but she refused to use the name off-camera and insisted that her friends call her by her real name. First married to actor Richard Huston Gaines (born July 23, 1904, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, died July 20, 1975, North Hollywood, California[7]) in 1936, they had one daughter, Virginia; the couple divorced in 1940.[8]

In 1941, Marshall married actor William Holden, who subsequently adopted Virginia Gaines (born November 17, 1937, New York City). Marshall and Holden had two additional children: Scott Porter Holden (born May 2, 1946, died January 21, 2005[9]) and Peter Westfield Holden (born November 17, 1943, died June 2014). After several separations, Marshall and Holden were divorced in 1971. Marshall died in 1992 from throat cancer in Palm Springs, California, aged 76.


Year Film Role Notes
1939 Blackwell's Island Reynolds' Secretary Uncredited
Espionage Agent Miss Brenda Ballard
1940 The Man Who Talked Too Much Celia Farrady
The Sea Hawk Doña Maria with Errol Flynn
Money and the Woman Barbara Patteson
East of the River Laurie Romayne
South of Suez Katharine 'Kit' Sheffield
1941 Footsteps in the Dark Rita Warren
Singapore Woman Vicki Moore
Highway West Claire Foster 62 mins.
The Smiling Ghost Lil Barstow
1942 Captains of the Clouds Emily Foster
You Can't Escape Forever Laurie Abbott
1943 The Constant Nymph Toni Sanger
Background to Danger Tamara Zaleshoff
Paris After Dark Yvonne Blanchard
1946 Strange Impersonation Nora Goodrich
Whispering Smith Marian Sinclair
1950 The Iroquois Trail Marion Thorne


  1. Clark, W.K. (December 31, 1939). "It's Another Brenda's Year". The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah, Salt Lake City. p. 49. Retrieved June 25, 2016 via
  2. Brenda Marshall at the Internet Movie Database
  3. Philippine Death Index Bacolod City
  4. p. 140 in: Halsema, James J. Bishop Brent's Baguio School: The First 75 Years. Brent School, Baguio City, Philippines. OCLC 20331617
  6. Famous Alumnae, Texas Woman's University website; accessed September 8, 2015.
  7. Richard Gaines at the Internet Movie Database
  8. Capua, Michelangelo (2009). William Holden: A Biography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 29–31. ISBN 978-0-7864-4440-3.
  9. Scott Holden at the Internet Movie Database


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