Friday, September 9, 2011

Debra Alden (Code of the West)

Whether or not James Warren was a good replacement for Tim Holt in three Zane Grey Westerns 1945-1947 is a discussion for another day. Here, we shall concentrate on Warren's third, and final, leading lady, Debra Alden, of Code of the West. And, sadly, although pretty and ingenious enough, Debra is thoroughly upstaged by resident RKO bad girl Carol Forman , as a saloon belle, and the exotic charms of Rita Lynn, the daughter of studio casting director Ben Piazza. The result: Code of the West proved Miss Alden's sole screen appearance.

Born Shirley Fedderson in Racine, WI (probably around 1922), and a niece of the Russell Stover candy imperium, she had appeared in amateur theatrics from an early age. By February 1945 she was starring as "Judy" in a local Racine production of the Broadway hit comedy "Junior Miss" before relocating to Los Angeles with her parents to pursue a screen career. She won a local beauty competition and was scooped up by David O. Selznick, who was always willing to gamble on a pretty face. Shirley Fedderson became Deborah Alden at first and performed the usual cheesecake duties before being assigned to Code of the West and the abbreviated moniker of "Debra." (Selznick was associated with RKO at the time). On December 22, 1947, she wed Harold Louis Griffith of Los Angeles. "Mr. and Mrs. Griffith," a public announcement of the nuptials stated, "will make their home at the Weylin Hotel in New York City."

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