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Mary Beth Hughes was born in historic Alton, Illinois on November 13, 1919. A lovely, young lady, standing 5'4", with classic good looks, and a great ability to emote the most subtle facial expressions.

Many film reviewers do not understand why she received second billing opposite Henry Fonda in "The Ox-Bow Incident", even though she only says a few lines. However, her facial expressions are priceless, and convey an entire conversation of passion, turmoil and betrayal, as she looks at Henry Fonda.
I feel that is why she received second billing.

One can vocalize lines and someone else can say anything they want to with their eyes. Mary Beth Hughes has such eyes as they are very expressive. She has the essence of innocence and naughtiness all at the same time, whereby she can change her look in an instant and it all looks so natural.

She would have been a great and very wealthy silent film star, like Mary Pickford had she been born 20 years earlier or had the status of film star Ann Margret in the 1960's, if she'd been born 20 years later.

Mary Beth Hughes started acting in High School. Inspired by her Grandmother who was a one time actress. Mary Beth began acting in Repertoire Theater in her late teens, then began appearing in films in 1938 (There is no credit information about her 1938 films--so my guess is she was an *extra* in them).

Mary Beth soon moved to Los Angeles, California to be in 20th Century Fox's B-stable from 1940-1943 where she played the role of both good and bad girls / women. During that time and while young and touring alone and in groups, she was accompanied by her mother, Fosetti Lucas Hughes.

Mary Beth Hughes only achieved starlet status even in the height of her acting career. She appeared in 60+ films spanning from 1939-1977. She was the star in many of these films and/or received second billing. The 60+ films is not counting her radio, TV, and extra work(from her early acting days). Mary Beth worked her buns off!!

Due to her lovely looks, and probably a good press agent, many movie magazines featured her glorious face, and she remained in the eyes and hearts of fans for many years to come.

In the middle 1950's, she decided to get involved with other performance venues besides film, and began to act and sing in fancy night clubs, TV commercials (appearing as Clara Appleby on the Red Skelton Show) and occasionally appeared in drive-in movie feature films (remember drive-ins?).

Ms. Hughes was still quite beautiful in her 50's. Check her out in Stephanie Rothman's 1974 film, 'Working Girls'. She plays the small part of Mrs. Borden who wants to hire someone to kill her husband. That's no face lift. She kept herself looking young, lovely, and shapely!

In the 1970's, she would get still get acting work, but mostly in films shown in small towns. To help pay her bills, she performed at second-class nightclubs--singing and playing electric bass. It wasn't a very happy time for her because her audience would rather booze and gab then listen to her. So she quit, got an agent, and landed lead billing in B films, 'Hows Your Love Life?' and 'Tanya'. Later, Mary Beth had hoped to get a steady part in a TV series, but due to inactivity, she was becoming ill. She resumed her nightclub work in upscale Southern California bistros--where she was often asked if she was the mother of Mary Beth Hughes. One might guess that her more popular films were when she was younger, and people seeing her singing in the 1970's could not make the 'computerized aging advancement' in their minds. And so, Mary Beth still looked like herself, only older. In the late 80's through the early 90's, she worked at a telemarking company called Teletech in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Ms. Hughes was married three (3) times. She probably met Ted(Michael) North during the film shoots of "Men on Her Mind" and/or "The Oxbow Incident". Hughes and North were married 1943-47 when they got divorced. She later married singer David Street, but he died in 1971 of natural causes. In the interim of married life (I do not know when) she dated actor Robert Stack for about 18 months. Then she married Nick (Nicky) Stewart in '73 who became her personal manager. Stewart about 9 years older than she and probably loved cats as much as Mary Beth, as they lived with many of them in Mary Beth's humongous, ranch home in Sepulveda, California.

I discovered Mary Beth Hughes from a late night film I saw on a PBS station. It was 'The Great Flamarion' where she stars opposite 'the man everyone loved to hate' in Hollywood, Erich Von Stroheim, and B-movie actor, Dan Duryea.

Most video stores/shoppes that review this film have it all wrong. Flamarion is NOT an evil magician. The most accurate review of that film is on the website. Of course, I will give you my own review of the film. In fact, I will tell you about the film in it's entirety on another page(tho it'll take quite a while for me to type it all up).

Most remember Mary Beth Hughes as being a hard-boiled blonde. That was probably not her natural hair color. I believe her true hair color was a very, light brown or dark blonde. Personally, I like how her hair looks in the 'Ox-Box Incident' and 'The Great Flamarion'--as her hair color looks natural. In 'Man with a Horn' and the 'Michael Shayne Dectective Series', Mary Beth has a hard and artificial look. However, no doubt is in my mind that she did her hair in specification to what the male producers of the show(s)/film(s) wanted.

Mary Beth Hughes remains known as a cult icon/actress...which is everlasting fame unto itself.

She died on August 27, 1995. She was 76.

Her only child, Donald North, was last known to be scuba diving and selling high-end underwater equipment.

---W. Ballard

Information on Mary Beth Hughes is extremely limited and so are images of her. I researched her hometown (Alton, IL) in Autumn 2000, hoping that the local paper or library would have newspaper clippings or information, but no.

I have my own stash of Mary Beth Hughes images which are not for sale, but you can download them for your own educational and eye-candy purposes.

Please return to this site as I am continually researching Mary Beth's life and work. As meager tid-bits of info are discovered--or are submitted by readers--they will be added.

Most of the photos on this page are from the film, "The Ox-Bow Incident". The four (4 ) with her hair down are from, "Man With a Horn". Other photos will be coming eventually on other pages.

If anyone knows any other info about Mary Beth which I did not cite, or if you want to share/send/give me photos of her(understand that I cannot pay you anything-not even a penny!)

please email me , as I would like to include your MBH gems.

Thank you very much,

---W. Ballard
ballardsaccessguide (at) gmail (dot) com


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Created November 2000. Last Updated 1/9/11

© W. Ballard, All Rights Reserved



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