|argaret Lindsay (Sept 19, 1910 – May 8, 1981)|
5' 5" (1.65 m)
Weight: 115 pounds
Hair: dark brown
Partner: Mary McCarty
First of 6 children. 5 Sisters and 1 brother John: The eldest Helen (with whom she lived for a while) married John Page Bueheler, Jane Gilbert (Susan Jane Kies) who was married to actor William Hopper. Lorranie was married to Frederick C. Kenline (Chicago), Mary (Mickie) was the youngest sister who later in life lived with Margaret.
|Above right: Margaret Lindsay as a child.|
Named after her grandmother on father's side Margaret Kies (later Margaret
Lindsay) was born
on September 19. 1910
the daughter of a
druggist, John Leo Kies who died in
1930, and Bertha
She was the oldest of six children.
The Kies family lived at 1070 Melrose Terrace when Margaret was wearing pigtails. Father John built the house when she was 3. They owned the Kies drugstore on Central avenue which was later owned by his brother Theodore. Margaret's uncle, Val Kies had a jewelry store on Dubuque's main street. Uncle Peter Kies had been prominent in state relief activities.
"Peg" was a tomboy who liked to climb pear trees, a self-confessed "roller-skate fiend" who loved the circular sidewalk at Visitation Convent, "where I skated 'round and 'round till I was dizzy." She graduated from Visitation Academy, Dubuque in 1930 (1928?) and her father enrolled her in the National Park Seminary in Washington DC. However she didn't stay there long because wanted to be an actress went on to study dramatics at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
|She noticed that American actors were playing second fiddle to their British counterparts. Unable to find roles in America, she went to London and gained stage experience there. Playing in five shows Escape, The Middle Watch, By Candlelight, The Romantic Age and Death Takes a Holiday (her biggest stage hit) she studied and mastered upper-class speech patterns, then after six months returned (Dec 1931) and tricked ship reporters into thinking she was a British actress. "I was in stock in England and my business manager - an American too - simply thought it was expedient to take advantage of the fad for foreign actors and actresses in America," she said in an interview later. "He gave us a list of names to choose from and I chose the first- Margaret Lindsay, for luck. So I became English and sailed for America."|
Above left: In a Tom Mix Production from 1932 Fourth Horseman Margaret Lindsay is trying to fight off some men.
Above right: John Warburton as Edward Marryot and Margaret Lindsay as Edith Harris in Cavalcade (1933)
Lindsay impressed Universal enough to sign her for their 1932 version of
The Old Dark House, but was replaced by Gloria Stuart. After some minor
roles in Pre-Code films she got her big break. This was a
small but showy part
in Fox's 1933 Oscar-winning Cavalcade
by convincing a casting director that she was
British-when, in reality,
had come to Fox directly
from the set of a Tom Mix Western!
part of the supposedly all-British cast, she played a bride honeymooning on
the Titanic. We see her having a
conversation with John Warburton on the deck of the ship, followed by the
revelation of the ship's name on the life preserver after they walk away.
"I didn't have a large part in that. It just happened to be a very good
scene - one you would remember. I enjoyed it. But when I saw it in the
picture I was astounded. It all seemed so different and so strange."
This movie was the biggest money-maker of
1933 and won the Academy Award and rave notices in both the
United States and, surprisingly, Britain.
It was no big secret to anyone behind the scenes in Hollywood why Lindsay didn’t marry. Rumored to have been a long-time lover of Janet Gaynor, the two appeared together in the film Paddy the Next Best Thing (1933). Lindsay had the gift of making Janet laugh, and the hi-jinks on the set of Paddy nearly shut down production on several occasions. Janet liberated from her (first) miserable marriage found a friend in Lindsay. Staying and often vacationing together for the next several years. Their friendship has been scrutinized by writer David Ehrenstein, and he concluded that Lindsay and Gaynor carried a long-term affair. However Paul Gregory (Gaynor's 3rd husband) denied this claim: "... this woman turned out to be a lesbian later on in life. Janet was tagged with that and I can tell you that, it didn't hurt her because she was annoyed by it, not hurt by it. She just though, how dumb people are, and you can investigate it to the moon and you wont be able to find anybody that can say they were in bed with her." (9)
Above: Margaret Lindsay (white top) and Janet Gaynor at The Desert Inn during a visit to Palm Springs (1934). Janet Gaynor is recovering from a final decree of divorcement while Margaret Lindsay recuperates from a final divorcement -- from one appendix - both on grounds of incompatibility. Janet is the winner of the movie colony's prize for best performance. Margaret Lindsay is a new star who is making sensational progress.
|She appeared in the Bette Davis films Fog Over Frisco (1934), Bordertown (1935), Dangerous (1935) . In 1935 she played the bride in The Case of the Curious Bride a Perry Mason mystery where we see Errol Flynn making his screen debut as corpse. Actually Flynn doesn't speak at all since his part only required a flashback scene with narration by Donald Woods.|
Above left: Co-starring with William Powell, Margaret Lindsay in Detective Detective 62 (aka Man Killer) (1933)
Above right: Devil Dogs of the Air (1935) where Lindsay portraits Betty Roberts, a nurse.
Above left: G-Men (1935) Lindsay again with Cagney playing a G-Men (FBI).
Above right: Lindsay played the bride in The Case of the Curious Bride (1935) a Perry Mason mystery where we see Errol Flynn making his screen debut as corpse. Actually Flynn doesn't speak at all since his part only required a flashback scene with narration by Donald Woods.
|In July 1935 Janet departed for her vacation home in Hawaii aboard the SS Lurline, with her mother and Margaret Lindsay in tow. Also aboard was Hilary Gordon, neé Helen Gaynor, who had flown from New York to care for her sister. Janet and her family stayed the rest of the summer in Hawaii, but Margaret Lindsay only stayed a week before reporting back to Warner. Bros to star with James Cagney in Frisco Kid (1935).|
Above: Two candid pictures taken of Janet Gaynor and Margaret Lindsay, the left picture on their way to Hawaii (July 1935). The Matson liner Lurline sailed for Hawaii via San Francisco with 222 passengers embarked at Wilmington. Miss Lindsay will be the guest at the Gaynors’ cottage near Waikiki Beach. Janet and her mother in one, and Miss Lindsay and Mrs. Gordon in the other, occupied adjoining suites on the liner. The party hopes to be in Hawaii a month.
|Margaret was at a dinner given in honor of, her good friend, actress Thelma Todd, the night of Todd`s mysterious death from carbon monoxide poisoning (Dec 1935). Totally distraught Margaret had to bow out of a picture she was filming Murder by an Aristocrat (1936). Famously, herself and Janet Gaynor went on a wild cross-country road trip with journalists in hot pursuit shortly after Lindsay had a breakdown after appearing at the Thelma Todd murder trial. Margaret was friendly with Thelma Todd's ex-husband and reputed gangster Pat DiCicco, with whom she had danced at a party the night before Todd's death.|
Above left: Photograph of Margaret Lindsay, who testified regarding the last party attended by Miss Todd, clutching a pair of gloves in one hand as she grasps the doorknob with her other hand. (Dec 23. 1935)
Above right: Arrive in New York. Margaret Lindsay (left), Janet Gaynor, both of film fame, and Mrs. Laura Gaynor (center), Janet's mother, give New York a big smile upon arriving from LA at Grand Central station, New York (Mar 3. 1937).
Above left: In Public Enemy's Wife (1936) Margaret Lindsay stars in the title role, playing a young woman imprisoned for a crime which she didn't commit. The real culprit is her jailbird husband (Cesar Romero).
Above right: Anita Louise, Errol Flynn and Margaret Lindsay in The Green Light (1937).
Lindsay became something of a
prototype feminist at the studio, refusing to "grin and bear it" - the
customary response, she said, when a director got "fresh." She told Ben
Maddow: "I don't care to be called by my first name and to be 'darling'
to everyone on the lot." Early on she vetoed marriage outright, saying
having both husband and career didn't mix. In 1937, in the midst of the
grapevine chatter linking her to Gaynor, she blasted rumormongers, saying
she intended to go on living her own life "and letting others live
In 1937 she plays a devoted nurse Frances Ogilvie in The Green Light again opposite Errol Flynn as Newall Paige, a young doctor.
Reportedly Mary Martin "took" Gaynor from Lindsay and she turned her romantic affections onto another actress, Mary McCarty. This time the romance worked and Lindsay and McCarty became longtime companions ending up buying a house in the Hollywood hills (Wellesley Drive, West Hollywood).
Above: Margaret Lindsay supposedly vacationing at Lake Arrowhead after completion of her latest Warner film Back in Circulation (1937).
Above left: Again in 1937 in the movie Slim. Tensions arise when Fonda falls in love with Blayd's gal Cally (Lindsay).
Above right: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda en Margaret Lindsay. A scene from Jezebel (1938).
Again opposite Bette Davis Margaret appeared in
in which she played Henry Fonda's Northern bride
and Davis' rival.
One of her first radio appearances came in the last episode of Academy Theatre "The House On 56th Street". Margaret Lindsay is interviewed, she does not appear in the drama (June 26. 1938).
Rumour had it that, in 1938, Kay Francis was photographed at a "lesbian orgy". However according to the biography Kay Francis by Lynn Kear and John Rossman actresses Margaret Lindsay and Josephine Hutchinson were the ones photographed and as a result Warner Brothers was blackmailed. Margaret did leave Warners in 1939 some claimed she protested some of the assignments handed her claiming the roles were not suitable. The official version was that her sister actress Jane (Kies) Gilbert signed a contract there and Margaret didn't want to compete for roles with her sister.... moreover she didn't want Jane to face any prejudice against a newcomer related to someone who wield influence in the same film plant. After leaving Warners she continued to appear mostly in B-movies, and later moved into character roles.
In July 1939 it was reported that her two older sisters were married. A
younger sister, Mary, 17 appeared several nights a week at the Hollywood
Bowl with the Koslofs dancing revue. She studied dancing and hoped to become
a dancing star. John, 15, was attending a military school in Hollywood and
was reported active in school dramatic presentations. Jack claimed, however,
that he would have nothing to do with the movies as he felt is was a "sissy
Margaret had the pleasure of appearing next to Clark Gable and Ginger Rogers in radio's The Screen Guild Theatre ( October 1, 1939) "Imperfect Lady" was a romantic comedy about two scriptwriters with clashing personalities who have to work together on a movie script.
Her B-movie experience included playing the female lead in seven Ellery Queen films. In Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940) Margaret "Nikki" Lindsay met Ellery over the body of John Braun. The amorous relationship between Ellery and Nikki got more dignity as the series progressed. According to author James Robert Parish "Columbia's one inspired touch in their Ellery Queen series was the addition of Nikki Porter as a freelance mystery writer who goes to work for Ellery as his secretary. She added a bubbling note of pretty distraction, since more often than not the plots called for her to do some amateur sleuthing to help out boss Ellery."
The "master" sleuth is turned into a buffoon in this initial series entry, centering on the murder of a millionaire at a health spa. Lindsay has some good moments as Nikki Porter, but there's too much talk and too little intrigue.
Work on the set allowed no time for social life, so her celebrations were small but gay. On the set there was one for her, her sister and stand-in, Mary Kies, and her grandmother Mrs. Margaret Kies, who was 84, with a cake given by Ralph Bellamy (Sep 1940).
In that same year together with
Bellamy Lindsay also made Meet the Wildcat but her standout role came
in the classic House of
Seven Gables, with George Sanders and Vincent Price. Margaret moved into
her new home, a new residence next door to the famous Whitley Heights home
where Rudolph Valentino lived.
By the next EQ entry Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery (1941) the influence of MGM's successful "Thin Man" series was obvious, as Ellery and Nikki engage in more comic squabbling than in sleuthing.
Above left: In 1941, for the first time in seven years, Margaret Lindsay was reunited with three sisters. The girls, natives of Dubuque, Iowa, are L to R; (standing) Mrs.John Page Bueheler, wife of a USA officer stationed at the Panama Canal; Mrs. Fredrick C. Keuline of Chicago; Miss Lindsay and Mary Kies, youngest daughter.
Above right: With Ralph Bellamy Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime (1941).
The following picture was
Queen and the Perfect Crime (1941).
This is probably the
best of the Columbia Queens, since it played fairly straight with the
storyline of the novel, even while totally changing its setting and
characters. Still too much Thin Manning, however, to satisfy mystery fans.
Ralph Bellamy made his fourth and final appearance as literary sleuth Ellery Queen in Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941). Loosely adapted from The Dutch Shoe Mystery, this bastardization is painful to watch.
Above left: A Tragedy at Midnight (1942) with John Howard, Margaret Lindsay and Keye Luke.
Above right: Margaret Lindsay as Nikki Porter in A Close Call for Ellery Queen (1942).
In 1942 she got a part in Republic's A Tragedy at Midnight next to John Howard. In the same
year she made the three next entries in the Ellery Queen serial along
William Gargan who took over from Ralph Bellamy. In
Close Call for Ellery Queen a more sober approach was
adopted, much to the overall benefit of the film.
Desperate Chance for
was the next entry and should
mostly be remembered for the dead of the
The last entry
Agents Meet Ellery Queen is easily the best of the
Columbia called it quits for Ellery Queen.
Margaret was being romantically linked
William Gargan ...
Above left: John Wayne and Margaret Lindsay in The Spoilers (1942).
Above right: With William Gargan in No Place for a Lady (1943).
Another déjà-vu for Margaret as she was cast again opposite
in No Place for a Lady (1943). Gargan plays private eye Jess Arno, while Lindsay is Jess'
ever-faithful, long-suffering fiancée June Terry (above
to a HR news item, the picture was to be the first entry in a new
series that was to replace Columbia's Ellery Queen films
of which James Hogan directed many. The
picture failed to spawn a series.
Margaret was heard Feb. 8 1943 in Hold Back The Dawn with Susan Hayward on CBS radio.
|After she quit the EQ movie series Margaret Lindsay was again cast in a adaptation of a popular radio show Crime Doctor (June 1943). It's the first of the series, establishes the Crime Doctor's background. It is still regarded by many as one of the better detective serials. This venture did become a success, but Lindsay's contract came up for renewal and it was decided to drop her.|
|During a New York vacation in 1943 Margaret was asked by English playwright Frederick Lonsdale to play on stage in Another Love Story. Weary of second leads, she smiled at his words: "You're the answer to my search for an actress for my new play. She has to be a chic continental girl." The play opened October 12. 1943 and ran six months in New York and piled up good reviews. "Margaret Lindsay, in her stage debut, is very attractive, but needs direction to put her at ease."|
Above left: As Roxie, a sexy saloon girl in Alaska (1944).
Above middle: Louisiana (1947) a rags-to-riches bio-pic that tells the story of Jimmie Davis. Lindsay played the role of Alvern Adams.
Above right: Margaret Lindsay is cast as a sultry Gay Nineties showgirl in Universal's Vigilantes Return, exciting saga of the Montana frontier (1947).
July 1. 1944 she was heard with
Claudette Colbert and Walter Pidgeon on the CBS radio program Star and
Living with her were her widowed mother; her brother John, who was with Ascap; sisters Mickie and Helen. Helen's husband, Col. John Page Buehler, is in Tokyo on General Mac Arthur's staff. Another sister, Lorry, lives in Chicago with husband Frederick Kenline, an advertising executive and former Dubuquan (1946).
By 1947, looking tired and overweight, Lindsay had segued into supporting roles. Occasionally appearing as a supporting role in MGM films like Cass Timberlane (1947) with Spencer Tracy, her film career was in decline with roles in films at Poverty Row studios like Monogram Pictures and PRC. She also began to accept more and more other work.
"The Legacy" was an episode of radio's Family Theater (May 18. 1949) about a woman who marries a professor for his money discovers that he has a young son, and a very bitter sister. After the man dies, several changes take place... Margaret was heard next to Virginia Gregg & Jaime Del Valle.
In June 1950 she travelled around (Princeton, Westport,...) to play in a Summer Stock engagement S.N. Behrman's comedy The Second Man opposite Franchot Tone, Cloris Leachman and Walter Brooke.
She debuted on television in 1950 in The Importance of Being Earnest, which called upon her ability to produce a British accent. Somewhat a false note since some sources report her scenes were deleted.
In 1952 she seem busy in radio appearing twice as commercial spokesman in February and March episodes of Father Knows Best and again on Dec 30. in The Silver Eagle as guest.
Above left: With John Archer for Emergency Hospital (1956) Dr. Janet Carey (Margaret Lindsay) is romanced by wealthy Ben Caldwell (Byron Palmer), who may or may not be a dangerously reckless motorist.
Above right: Motion picture stars Margaret Lindsay and Cesar Romero greet George, trained sea elephant featured in Pacific Ocean Park's sea circus (Dec 22, 1958)
Above left: Margaret in Tammy and the Doctor (1963)
Above right: Jane Wyatt, Jane Wyman and Margaret Lyndsay at Shriner's Tribute to Pat'O Brien (1974).
Lindsay appeared in only four films during the 1950s and two in the 1960s. She retired from the movies with a release, when she was only 53, Tammy and the Doctor (1963). Lindsay played a nurse in love with doctor Macdonald Carey.
Her mother, who had lived with her, passed away on August 28. 1964 at 84 years.
On television she appeared as Elly in The Chadwick Family, an unsuccessful 1974 TV pilot with Fred MacMurray. She lived above the Sunset Strip.
Lindsay almost completely disappeared from public view after retirement, turning down countless film offers and interview requests.
Margaret was relatively open about her lesbian sexuality
within the Hollywood community. Although she was romantically linked to
several male stars her close companion was actress Mary McCarty.
Margaret remained stoically and determinedly true to herself throughout her whole career in movies, never marrying to appease the studio or the public, and maintaining a lively and popular hangout for the closeted lesbians of Hollywood in her and her partner Mary McCarty’s bungalow.
April 3, 1980, Lindsay found McCarty dead on the floor of her home in West
Los Angeles. She was 56.
(3) Margaret Lindsay, actress, dies at 70, obituary NYT (May 11,1981)
(4) Thelma Todd’s death – maybe murder after all? Alan Royle, 2015
(5) The Death of Thelma Todd, at Findadeath.com
(7) Broken Face in the Mirror: Crooks and Fallen Stars That Look
Very Much Like Us - David Hernandez, 2010
(8) Stevie Joe Payne
(9) Lucky Stars - Sarah Baker
Additional video & audio sources
(1) Lady Killer, Movie clip 1933 Lady Killer
(2) Hollywood Newsreel clip 1934
(3) Frisco Kid, Movie trailer, 1935
(4) Sinner Take All, Movie clip, 1936
(5) Jezebel, Movie clip, 1938
(6) Screen Guild Theater - "Imperfect Lady" with Clark Gable,
Ginger Rogers and Margaret Lindsay (October 1. 1939)
(7) Words with Music AFRS Collection Radio (Dec 27. 1945)
(8) Halo Shampoo TV Commercial 1952
(9) Your Show of Shows Hostess Margaret Lindsay 1952
This actor profile is a part of
Ellery Queen a website on deduction.
The actor above played Nikki Porter in
an Ellery Queen film series.
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Many of the profiles on this site have been compiled after very careful research of various sources. Please quote and cite ethically!
Page first published before 2009
Latest update May 4. 2022
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