Joan Perry; Movie Actress, Widow of Harry Cohn


Joan Perry, a motion picture actress of the 1930s who was widowed by Columbia Studios President Harry Cohn, has died. She was 85.

Perry died Sunday of emphysema at her Santa Barbara estate.

Born Elizabeth Rosiland Miller in Pensacola, Fla., Perry began acting in class plays in Tampa. She was a model until she was discovered by Hollywood.

Signed to Columbia in 1935 at the same time as actress Rita Hayworth, Perry was told by studio chief Cohn: “Hayworth will be a star, and you’ll be my wife.”


Perry appeared with actors Lew Ayres, Ralph Bellamy, Melvyn Douglas and Ronald Reagan in such films as: “The Case of the Missing Man,” “Dangerous Intrigue,” “Counterfeit Lady,” “The Devil Was Driving,” “Good Girls Go to Paris,” “Nine Lives Are Not Enough” and “International Squadron.”

She retired from the screen in 1941, when she married Cohn, who was 20 years her senior. After his death in 1958, she briefly married and divorced shoe tycoon Harry Karl, and later married and divorced actor Laurence Harvey.

Perry is survived by a son, John Perry Cohn, and a daughter, Catherine Perry Cohn. Another son, Harrison Perry Cohn Jr., died a few years ago.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Victor’s Church on Holloway Drive in West Hollywood. She will be buried in Hollywood Memorial Park next to Cohn.