Virginia Field, a British barrister's daughter who abandoned a stage career to portray a series of "other women" in more than 30 films, has died in Palm Desert of cancer at 74.
Margery Ross-Warshaw, a reporter for the Desert Sun newspaper, said Tuesday that the tall, blonde veteran of secondary leads in pictures ranging from a barmaid in the bio-pic "Lloyds of London" to the Charlie Chan series of low-budget thrillers, died Thursday.
Born Margaret Cynthia Field to a father who was a British judge and a mother who was a cousin of Gen. Robert E. Lee, she took the stage name Virginia in deference to her Confederate forebear.
She studied singing and acting in Paris and Vienna and was cast in Max Reinhardt's stage production of "All's Well That Ends Well." She appeared with Leslie Howard in "This Side Idolatry" and then came to New York, ostensibly to understudy Helen Hayes in Broadway's "Victoria Regina," after making the British picture "The Lady Is Willing" opposite Howard and Sir Cedric Hardwicke.
But Miss Field left Broadway for Hollywood after helping a friend, actor Owen Davis Jr., make a screen test. 20th Century Fox, which had scheduled the test for Davis but hired her, put her under contract and she began the series of films that made her an ongoing presence of the 1930s and '40s.
Among her successes were "Waterloo Bridge," "Captain Fury," "Hudson's Bay," "Dream Girl," "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" and her last, "The Earth Dies Screaming" in 1964.
She was married three times, first to actor Paul Douglas, next to composer Howard Grode and finally to actor Willard Parker, who survives her as does a daughter from her marriage to Douglas.