Joan Leslie, Yankee Doodle Dandy Actress Who Also Partnered with Fred Astaire, Dies at 90
Joan Leslie's leading men included Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney
Joan Leslie, an actress in films including Yankee Doodle Dandy, Sergeant York and High Sierra, has died at age 90.
The star died Monday in Los Angeles, her family confirmed in a Los Angeles Times obituary, which referred to her as Joan Leslie Caldwell.
Leslie worked alongside some of Hollywood’s most legendary leading men. At age 15 she got her big break when she was cast as a crippled girl alongside Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra. The following year she played Gary Cooper’s love interest in Sergeant York, and later rang in her 17th birthday on the set of Yankee Doodle Dandy while playing the wife of James Cagney’s titular character.
In 1943 she danced alongside Fred Astaire in The Sky’s the Limit, and her nimbleness made such an impression that Astaire once declared she “had brains in her feet,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Other costars through the years included Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, Fred MacMurray and Robert Alda.
According to her obituary, Leslie got her start in entertainment alongside her two sisters in their native Detroit. The trio later performed in New York City, Canada and Florida, and moved to Hollywood when a talent scout initially signed her oldest sister to a contract with MGM.
Leslie married Los Angeles physician William G. Caldwell in 1950 and later shifted her attention away from acting and toward raising their twin daughters, as well as charitable activities.
After the girls were grown she made occasional appearances on television shows including Charlie’s Angels and Murder She Wrote.
Leslie will be laid to rest on Monday.