Bonita Granville Cause of Death: How the Child Star and Producer Died of Lung Cancer

Bonita Granville was a famous American actress and producer who rose to fame as a child star in the 1930s and 1940s. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in These Three (1936), and starred in the popular Nancy Drew film series. She later became a successful producer of TV shows such as Lassie and The Lone Ranger, and a prominent businesswoman and philanthropist. She died of lung cancer at the age of 65 in 1988. In this article, we will explore her life, career, and cause of death in more detail.

Early Life and Career

Bonita Gloria Granville was born on February 2, 1923, in New York City, the daughter of Rosina (née Timponi) and Bernard Granville, both stage performers. She began her career on the stage at age three, following her parents’ footsteps. She made her film debut at the age of nine in Westward Passage (1932), and appeared in several uncredited roles in films such as Little Women (1933) and Anne of Green Gables (1934).

She gained recognition for her role as Mary Tilford, a malicious child who spreads lies about her teachers, in These Three (1936), a film adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s play The Children’s Hour. For her performance, she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the youngest person to be nominated for an Oscar at that time.

In 1938, she was cast by Warner Bros. to play the role of Nancy Drew, a teenage detective and reporter, in a series of four films based on the novels by Carolyn Keene. The films were Nancy Drew… Reporter (1939), Nancy Drew… Detective (1938), Nancy Drew… Trouble Shooter (1939), and Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939). The films were popular among young audiences, and Granville became known for her bright and feisty portrayal of the character.

She also appeared in other films such as Now, Voyager (1942), where she played Bette Davis’ rebellious daughter, Hitler’s Children (1943), where she played a German-American girl who falls in love with a Nazi officer, and The Glass Key (1942), where she played Veronica Lake’s sister.

Marriage and Production Career

In 1947, she married Jack Wrather, an oil millionaire and film producer. After her marriage, she appeared in only three more films: The Guilty (1947), Strike It Rich (1948), and Guilty of Treason (1950). She then focused on producing TV shows with her husband, such as Lassie (1954-1973), The Lone Ranger (1949-1957), Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (1955-1958), and The Legend of Jesse James (1965-1966).

She also became an executive in the Wrather Corporation, which owned and operated various properties such as the Disneyland Hotel, the Queen Mary ship, and the Spruce Goose plane. She was involved in many civic and cultural groups, such as the American Film Institute, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Music Center, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She was appointed to the John F. Kennedy Center Board of Trustees by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and for another term by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.

Death and Legacy

Granville died on October 11, 1988, of lung cancer at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 65. She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. She had two children with Wrather: Linda Wrather and Christopher Wrather.

She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 for her contributions to the film industry. She and her husband were posthumously named Disney Legends in 2011 for their role in developing the Disneyland Hotel. She was also honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984.

Bonita Granville was one of the most successful child stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, who transitioned into a prolific producer and a respected businesswoman. She left behind a legacy of memorable films and TV shows that entertained generations of audiences. She also made a positive impact on society through her philanthropic work and cultural leadership. She will always be remembered as a talented actress, a visionary producer, and a generous human being.

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