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Mary Lee (actor)

Personal information
Birth nameMary Lee Wooters
Birth dateOctober 24, 1924
Place of birthCentralia, Illinois
Date of deathJune 6, 1996(age 71)
Death placeCalifornia
OccupationFilm actress
SpouseHarry J. Banan

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Mary Lee, born Mary Lee Wooters in Centralia, Illinois (October 24, 1924-June 6, 1996), was a B-movie actress and singer from the late 1930s well into the 1940s, starring mostly in westerns.

Cute, with a youthful look well into her thirties, Lee was singing with the Ted Weems Orchestra in the late 1930s, coming to the attention of Republic Pictures. Her first screen appearance was with Warner Bros., in Nancy Drew, Reporter (1939); she portrayed Mary Nickerson, the younger sister of Nancy Drew's (Bonita Granville) boyfriend, Ted Nickerson (Frank Thomas Jr.). The film utilized Lee's vocal talents in "Nursery Rhyme Melody."

Lee accepted a job at Republic Pictures, where she starred alongside Gene Autry in South of the Border. Republic signed her to a five-year contract in 1940. She would star in another six films with Autry. In some of the Autry films actress June Storey would play the heroine, with Lee as the younger sister.

When Gene Autry left acting for a time to serve during World War II, Lee made a few appearances in the films of Roy Rogers. Republic soon billed her as "America's Little Sister," and starred her in B musicals like Shantytown and Nobody's Darling. She retired from pictures in 1945. Around that same time she married Harry J. Banan, Master Sergeant, United States Army returning from World War II, to whom she would remain married until his death in 1990.

Mary Lee worked for Bank of America for 15 years as an Account Teller. Education level was 12th grade. Mary Lee died in Sacramento, California on June 6, 1996. She is interred alongside her husband at East Lawn Sierra Hills Cemetery in Sacramento, California.

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