Joan Leslie Caldwell
1925 - 2015
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January 26, 1925 - October 12, 2015 Joan Leslie Caldwell, one of the stars of stage and screen in the golden age of Hollywood, died October 12, 2015, at age 90, in Los Angeles, CA. Born in Detroit, Michigan, the youngest daughter of John Brodel, a bank teller, and Agnes, pianist and homemaker, Joan and her two sisters, Mary and Betty, performed on stage in their hometown and New York City, later touring from Canada to Florida. When a talent scout saw them perform and signed her older sister Mary to a contract at MGM, the family moved to Burbank, CA and at fifteen, Joan was screen testing with Warner Brothers, winning the coveted role of the crippled girl in High Sierra with Humphrey Bogart. The next year, she was selected as Gary Cooper's leading lady in Sergeant York. She celebrated her seventeenth birthday on the set of Yankee Doodle Dandy, in the role of the wife of Academy Award winner James Cagney. She co-starred in over 30 films, including The Sky's the Limit, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Hollywood Canteen, Rhapsody in Blue, This is the Army, and Repeat Performance. Following her marriage in 1950 to Los Angeles physician William G. Caldwell, she shifted her attention to family and charitable activities, including Father Patrick Peyton's Family Theatre radio series and St. Anne's Maternity Home. After her twin daughters were grown, she returned to television to make commercials and an occasional appearance in a drama series, including Charlie Hannah with Robert Conrad, Fire in the Dark with Olympia Dukakis and TV shows Charlie's Angels, The Incredible Hulk, Police Story, Simon and Simon, and Murder She Wrote. She continued her involvement in parish work, the Los Angeles Public Library after-school reading program, and the advisory board of the Damon Runyan Cancer Fund. Funeral mass will be celebrated at 10:00 am on October 19 at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Our Mother of Good Counsel Church, 2060 N Vermont Ave, LA, 90027 or St. Anne's, 155 N Occidental Blvd. LA, 90026.

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Published in Los Angeles Times from Oct. 15 to Oct. 17, 2015.
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104 entries
October 15, 2020
She was a great actress, loved all her movies. RIP dear Joan.

October 14, 2020
Thanks for the memories. A. Civello
Angeline Civello
March 11, 2020
Joan Lesley, I loved ur movies. God Bless u!
George Hameetman
October 21, 2019
Rest in peace, Joan. I simply loved all of your movies ! Such joy you brought to the movie audience. Thank you, Angeline Civello
Angeline Civello
June 29, 2018
You were one of my favorite actress. You have been gone 2 years now. God Bless.

June 25, 2018
Such beauty is seldom seen.
May 22, 2018
To this very day she still opens my heart watching her on film. One so real and shining....... Thank you Joan.

Michael Gelien
November 26, 2016
Valenda Newell
October 16, 2016
Happy Angel Day Blessings, It has been 1 year since your passing. We lost a wonderful actress and a beautiful soul. You were one of my favorites actress.
October 14, 2016

An audio interview of Mrs. Caldwell in London in 1995, by Barry Iddon, showing that she retained her beauty throughout her entire life. A rare gem and a special movie star.
Erik Von Handorf
October 19, 2015
God bless her in heaven, she was a good actress . thank you my prayers go out to the family.
Beatrice Bongini
November 18, 2015
She was a St. Benedict High School gal, Highland Park MI. Joan, Thanks for the memories.
Angeline Civello
No Relation
February 21, 2016
I I met Joan at the Hollywood Canteen in 1944 and twice since -what a sweetie Ex RAF D Dubbin
Desmond Dubbin
January 16, 2016
January 12, 2016
I was 7 years old when my father took me to a secret train arrival from California to Chicago carrying movie stars. I was told to approach them for an autograph as they came out and of course the stars ran right by me except Joan Leslie who stopped and asked me for my name and signed my book. I was struck by her beautiful coloring which never showed in the black and White screen.
Constance Coultry
January 8, 2016
Thank You, Joan, A Beautiful, Joyful, Lovely Lady!! You so reminded me of my Mother!!
Diana Sarnicki
December 31, 2015
Pease accept my heartfelt condolences in the passing of your Mother. I never was fortunate enough to ever have net her, but I loved many of the movies she appeared in. I know that her daughters were blessed to have had her for a Mother.
Richard Copenhaver
December 18, 2015
Just saw on TCM Remembers that your mom passed. She was the definition of vivacious, and a part of the greatest entertainment of all time. Thanks for being a big part of the world, and a tremendous presence in it.
Rob Medaska
December 15, 2015
She made every film more real and memorable. My favorite since I saw her in S. York
Glenn Harder
December 15, 2015
Still feel saddened...Still have her letter and still would love to write her bio...Her work was excellent but so often was shadowed by Warner's blacklist and her typecasting as girl next door (she was superb in any role). Still my warm feelings for all who admired her, and, of course, to her family.
Charles Reichenthal
December 14, 2015
Dear Family and Friends of:
Joan Leslie Caldwell

Please find comfort in knowing that soon, all hurt and pain that comes from the death of a loved one, will be no more. For our Creator has promised: "I'm making all things New, these Words, Faithful are and True."

What a time to have Hope in. What a future to look forward too.

May you find Comfort in Him.
E. Abernathy
November 24, 2015
Joan was a my favorite actress of Hollywood's Golden age along with Olivia De Havilland. Joan was so versatile and her smile was unmatched. I will deeply be greatful to her for the love and service she showed to our Men and Women serving out country at the Hollywood Canteen. What a blessing it was to have her with us for these 90 years! As the great "Dame Vera Lynn" sang... "We'll meet again!
Don C
November 9, 2015
I'd actually been thinking about Joan Leslie lately, on the assumption she was one of last Golden Age actresses still living in the wake of Maureen O'Hara's October 24th passing. It was therefore a tremendous shock to see her obituary in the October 30th issue of THE WEEK that arrived in my mailbox today. Though the magazine's tribute devoted much copy to her dissatisfaction with being typecast as the Quintessential Girl Next Door, I'm obviously just the latest in a long line of Legacy posters who fell in love with her and are grateful for the way she explored the potential of that sunny persona. It takes a truly special girl next door to charm and civilize such diversely troubled men as Sergeant York, George M. Cohan and Mad Dog Earle! Sincerest condolences to family and friends who got to know her on those levels that transcend fame and fandom - 90 years of memories in that paradigm is the true blessing!
Gregg Merksamer
November 8, 2015
Just learned of the passing of Joan Leslie. I, like all her many fans, am very saddened. What a beautiful and talented actress. My condolences to her family.
Lori Sheffield
November 7, 2015
God bless Joan & her family
I truly loved her from age 5 till her death I am now
76 years old with four grown children and 13 grandchildren,I have a wonderful life but thenwith strong Catholic belief l never forget Joan and admire her forever God Bless her. Ray Petty
Raymond Petty
November 6, 2015
One of the great actresses of the 40s & 50s so beautiful and talented a role model for every generation that followed on how to be a true and selfless American. The world and I will love you and miss you forever. Goodbye joanie
Tim Sutera
November 3, 2015
My deepest sympathy for your loss. I just discovered her death.I loved her movies.
Karen Davis
October 31, 2015
My most sincere condolences for your loss. Joan was a very beautiful actress with a contagious smile. I know that loosing a loved one and a friend can be very hard, I hope the family can find comfort and be strengthened by our Heavenly Father, the God of love.
October 27, 2015
So sorry to hear your loss May the prayers of family and friends comfort and sustain you at this trying time.
October 23, 2015
To the family please accept our condolences. Since Ms. Joan Leslie was a great actress we enjoyed her movies. We are help to know that very soon mankind will enjoy peace. The dream for peace according to God's word will be a reality Isaiah 2:4.
October 22, 2015
Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us.
Harry Simpson
October 21, 2015
May you be comforted knowing God and others care.
October 21, 2015
As a long time movie buff, it brought me comfort knowing that she was still with us after so many years of creating memorable characters in classic films. I'm sad to know she is no longer here but happy to know her films continue to entertain and inform.
Eric Brahney
October 21, 2015
"The Girl Next Door". Joan WAS the kind of girl you WISHED lived next door to you. Sweet and kind and unaffected by her fame, a real down-to-earth person. I treasure the correspondence I had with her over the years. It's nice to know that she still lives on not only in our hearts and minds, but also in her films in which future generations have the pleasure of seeing her. I am deeply saddened but am comforted by the fact that she lived a full and rewarding life. My warmest wishes and my condolences to her family.
Mike Wozniak
October 20, 2015
Matthew McGuire
October 19, 2015
Joan was a dedicated honorary member of the University of Louisville Southern California Alumni Club, in which her husband, Bill, founded. Her sincere passion for our U of L alumni group and her endearing kindness will never be forgotten. I will always hold Joan dear to my heart and I feel so blessed to have known her.
Tammy Radan
October 19, 2015
The she was a beautiful lady,
October 19, 2015
Joan happened to be the starring actress in two of my all time favorite movies- Yankee Doodle Dandy and Sargeant York. Maybe the reason I loved those movies was because of her. She was a darling young woman who I loved as a little girl! Her movies have immortalized her to us all- we are so fortunate!
Carol Pierce
October 19, 2015
RIP. Great job in Sgt. York, High Sierra, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. I believe I saw her in a Police Story episode in the 70s.
God Bless.
Matt McGrath
October 18, 2015
The world has lost a beautiful and talented actress. She will always be remembered for all of her outstanding performances. May her family be surrounded by love and peace at this very sad time. One of her many "fans"
October 18, 2015
My condolences go out to the family.
October 18, 2015
I am sorry to hear of the loss of your loved one. She was a very talented individual. She was adored by many and will be missed by all who knew and loved her. May the God of all comfort (Psalms 83:18) be with your family at this time.
October 18, 2015
I remember her in Rhapsody In Blue, and High Sierra 2 of my favorite movies with 2 of my favorite actors . Very good actress. My sincere condolences to the (Brodel) Leslie, and Caldwell families. May your strength and peace abound, and your endurance be strong during the loss of your loved one. Philippians4:6-7.
D Tyler
October 18, 2015
Rest in splendid peace, Joan Leslie. My parents gave me your name because they admired you so in YDD.
October 18, 2015
This dear soul is a hero to me. She lived nobly. Our world was honored to have her, especially as an example to emulate. May her family enjoy many blessings forever, earned by Joan.
Bob O'Connell
October 18, 2015
May you rest I'n the peace of Christ.
October 18, 2015
A legacy of work on screen, and off to be proud off, Joan Leslie left behind fond memories for so many. May God be with you and your family always.
October 18, 2015
My sympathy to her family for their loss, but what a blessing that she lived such a full life! Love her in films as her pretty face lights up any character she plays. Will continue to watch her in Yankee Doodle Dandy every 4th of July. It's a tradition in my family that we all enjoy.
God Bless...
Kathryn (devoted fan).
Kathryn Mathis
October 17, 2015
Joan Leslie was a saint in so many ways. Thank you, God, for her time with us.
Joe Sommers
October 17, 2015
Patrice and Family,

My condolences on the loss of your Mother. From the tributes I have read she was truly an amazing person who had an amazing life. My thoughts are with you.
Terry Cook
October 17, 2015
Patrice and Ellen, our sympathy to you. Nelson and I are holding you close to our hearts.
Susan Burns
October 17, 2015
I am so sorry for your loss. May the God of comfort be with you during this difficult time. (Ps 83:18)
October 17, 2015
To the Caldwell Family; may peace be with you at this very private time for your Family. Mrs Caldwell, once called me a "Rascal." That was pure her - she was as wholesome as you can get and she never lost her humility. I will always love you for what I shared with you Joan. Hollywood, has lost one of it's few remaining classy Stars. May you be forever united with your loved ones in eternal peace.
Jim Ramey
October 17, 2015
My sympathies to Patrice and Ellen. It is a time of memories and sharing.
Janet Roehl
October 17, 2015
May your family find peace and comfort in knowing sickness, pain and death will one day be gone for this has been promised.
October 17, 2015
My deepest sympathies to the Leslie family for the loss of Joan. May God's Word provide you comfort and strength during this difficult time. (Isa. 41:10,13)
T Crawford
October 17, 2015
May the fond memories of your loved one carry you through this difficult time as you look to our loving heavenly father for strength "For he is near to those broken at heart ". Ps 34:17,18
October 17, 2015
So sorry for the death of your loved one,may the peace that excel all thought guard your heart..philp.4:7
October 16, 2015
Our sympathy to her family. She was one of my favorite actress. RIP dear Joan....always Rosie Alba Santa Maria, CA.
October 16, 2015
From the moment I saw her in Hollywood Canteen (in 1960), Joan Leslie was, and has remained my favorite actress. Years later I named my first daughter, Joan, with Ms. Leslie in mind. She has been a part of my life, although sadly we never met(always was an aspiration of mine). I grieve that she will no longer be with us.
Robert Fishman
October 16, 2015
Joan Leslie was my absolute first and favorite crush since as an 8 year old I went to see "Hollywood Canteen" at the Park Theater in Worcester Mass -- it's in my almost completed book -- God rest her soul -- sincerely, the "other" Jack Nicholson
John H. (Jack) Nicholson
October 16, 2015
One of the most underated of all actresses---just look at her co-stars
Anna Keratin
October 16, 2015
Dr. Caldwell, peace and prayers to you and your family.
Love, Amelia Bilbrey
October 16, 2015
Im a big fan. So sorry to hear of her passing. Prayers for the family.
karen hicks
October 16, 2015
A lovely star with whom I was enchanted from the days of watching Atlanta's Channel 17 in my teens until I finally had the great honor of meeting and talking with her. She was so helpful and gracious, and I'll always miss her. Love to all of you--she always was so proud of you, and you made her life sweet.
Christine Bamberger
October 16, 2015
I remember this lovely lady from when I was a kid. Used to cut out pictures from movie magazines and make scrap books and she was my favorite star. My sympathies to her family.
virginia o engleburt
October 16, 2015
I grew up watching Sergeant York and Yankee Doodle Dandy with my Dad. They are two of my all time favorites and so was the sweet actress Joan Leslie. Now I get to watch these wonderful films with my own children, 3 boys 1 girl ages 12 - 18, and this whole new generation appreciates these classics too! God Bless, my sympathies. Janine LaRosa Bristol, PA
October 16, 2015
My warmest condolences and fervent prayers for Miss Leslie's family. As my mother worked at the Hollywood Canteen during the war, I particularly appreciated Miss Leslie's performance in the film "Hollywood Canteen" -- but her many memorable roles have given me great pleasure. I only wish I could have expressed to her personally my appreciation for her wonderful career -- as well as her many charitable activities.
Robert Read
October 16, 2015
Celebrating a life well lived. We will cherish the memories forever.
October 16, 2015
Dear Pat, Ellen and family - so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved mom. We know that she is in a better place.
Love and prayers,
Vielka Da Costa Dusenberry
October 16, 2015
God be with you Ms. Leslie. You were one of the real ladies on the silver screen. You always were so spiritually full of joy and so bubbly even in a seriuos role because that is who you were.
God bless your family and friends at this time. My prayers are with all of you. Wish I could afford to come to the Mass on the 19th to say goodby, but just know I loved you in Yankee Doodle Dandy and all the others and TV too. You are missed but you are now in heaven enjoying all your old friends and Jesus.
Barbara Dodson
October 16, 2015
My condolences to the family . Knowing that your loved one is resting brings peace of mind . May God comfort the family at this difficult time . Isaiah 12 : 2 .
October 16, 2015
To the Family of Ms. Leslie,
Thank you for sharing Ms. Leslie for the wonderful films she made. She was a fabulous actress.
Carol Dell
October 16, 2015
Beautiful and talented lady. You were great in two of my favorite movies: Sargent York and Yankee Doodle Dandy. God Bless you and your family.
Steve McKaig
October 16, 2015
Thanks for the lovely memories sweet Joan and the treasure trove of extremely fine performances you left us all in all those wonderful classic films. Love & Blessings!
Kyle Michael
October 16, 2015
Wonderful actress............all others of her elk have sadly 'Gone with the Wind' never to grace or screens again.........
October 16, 2015
Always had a crush on this beautiful,talented lady.Never got the credit she deserved
Thomas Brewer
October 16, 2015
Another divine star ascends into the eternal heavens....
Dorian Sarris
October 16, 2015
Deepest sympathy for your great loss.
May God bless you and your family at
this time of your sorrow.
October 16, 2015
Thank you, Ms. Leslie, for sharing your great talent for us all to enjoy forever. Enjoyed hearing your detailed memories as told on TCM of making "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and enjoyed watching you perform with Dennis Morgan in "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Two Guys from Milwaukee." Deepest condolences to your family, friends, colleagues, and admirers everywhere.
October 16, 2015
May the memory of you be in God's memory (John 5:28), and therefore will never be forgotten. So sorry for your loss.
October 16, 2015
She was one of my favorites as a young girl in the early 1960's. I liked her alongside Dennis Morgan and of course with Gary Cooper in the timeless Sergeant York...
Pam Davis
October 16, 2015
What a wonderful actress. They don't make them like her anymore. I always wished I could meet her and thank her for all the wonderful entertainment she gave me. Rest in peace my dear. I will never forget you. John
October 16, 2015
So sorry for your loss. May the love of your family and friend carry you through your grief at this time.
October 16, 2015
The young lady had breathtaking poise. A golden age Hollywood star like no other. So young. Amazing! God bless.
Steve K
October 16, 2015

October 15, 2015
Joan Leslie was one of my favorite Actress I loved her in Yankee doodle Dandy Repeat Performance and so many others. She held her own with Bogart Cagney and Cooper She was lovely and talented She will be missed
ross rosen
October 15, 2015
May God Bless Joan Leslie Caldwell and her Family. She was great as Miss Gracie with Gary Cooper in Sergeant York and with James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy. May the Good Lord welcome her into His Eternal Kingdom and grant to Joan her Reward.
Paul Alan
October 15, 2015
I will always remember Joan and her wonderful role in Sergeant York. God be with her family.
Christine Collins
October 15, 2015
Thank you for your beauty and grace. You will be missed.
October 15, 2015
I remember a beautiful a very gracious lady - inside as well as outside - with a great sense of humor, whom I met in 2004. R.I.P., Joan. 23rd Psalm.
Kevin Deevey
October 15, 2015
Rest in peace. I loved you in the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy. God bless you.
October 15, 2015
As a young girl. I pretended to be Joan when my friend and I played "dress up". Rest in peace dear lady.
janet fricke
October 15, 2015
My all-time favorite...a joy to watch...and a pleasure to correspond with. She was as the song she would sing. Her performances, always fine and always underrated...I still want to do the bio...My condolences to her whole family..from those who loved her work.
October 15, 2015
Joan Leslie has died and I'm so upset I can't speak! I had the honor of interviewing her through her daughter, Professor Ellen Caldwell. You can read about it here on my old blog. I have loved Joan Leslie ever since seeing Yankee Doodle Dandy as a kid. Hers was the first autograph I ever received. After sending her this article, I received another autograph and a note telling me what a good job I did and wished me luck for my future! I will treasure this until my dying day! I sent her cards every Christmas and for her birthday and was told she enjoyed them. Ann Rutherford once told me that Joan Could charm the birds off of trees! Yes Joan Leslie was really like the girl in the movie Hollywood Canteen; sweet, kind, generous and ALWAYS good to her fans! A real lady and everything you could hope for in a star. I don't think I could end this better then by quoting the last line in the song Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart from Hollywood Canteen.
May angels up above watch over you
And keep you safe, my love, until the dawn breaks through

Goodnight, sweet dreams, tomorrow's another day
Goodnight, sweet dreams, sweetheart.

Goodnight Joanie! When I get to heaven save me a dance at the Hollywood Canteen!
Bobby Sulecki
October 15, 2015
One of my favorite actresses. Miss Leslie had a genuine prescience on the screen that was always sweet, upbeat and fun. Her characters made you feel like they were old friends. Regardless if it was a drama like "The Hard Way" or comedy such as "Two Guys from Milwaukee," Joan Leslie was always a joy on screen. Praying for her family during this time.
Jessica Pickens
October 15, 2015
In God's care rest in peace
Dwayne Bickham,Sr.
October 15, 2015
Such a pleasure to watch. Overlooked for the bigger named actresses, but still had talent. I sure wish we could have seen many years and many movies with her in them. Sad to hear of her passing. Prayers go out to her family and for her memory.
Bobby Wilcox
October 15, 2015
My father loved your acting in movies with Bogart and Cagney. Rest in Peace Ms.Joan. He may see you in the heavenly films of the stars.
Grace T
October 15, 2015
God Bless You. One of my personal favorites. She was really good in Yankee Doodle Dandy also.
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