Born in Dubuque, Iowa as Margaret Kies, Margaret Lindsay was the daughter of a druggist, John Leo Kies who died in 1930, and Bertha L.Gilbert. She was the oldest of five children. "Peg" was a tomboy who liked to climb pear trees. She was 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, Dubeque in 1930 and studied dramatics at the National Park Seminary in Washington DC and 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. She studied and mastered
upper-class speech patterns, then returned and tricked ship reporters into
thinking she was a British actress.
She got her big break, 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! As
part of the supposedly all-British cast, she played a bride honeymooning on
She 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.
Totally distraught Margaret had to bow out of a
picture she was filming "Murder by an Aristocrat" (1936).
In 1937 she plays a devoted nurse Frances Ogilvie
in "The Green Light" again opposite Eroll Flynn
as Newall Paige, a young doctor.
Her B-movie experience included playing the female lead in seven Ellery
"Ellery Queen, Master Detective"
'Nikki' Lindsay met Ellery over the body of John
Braun. The amorous relationship between Ellery and Nikki
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
The following picture
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.
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 "A
Close Call for Ellery Queen" a more sober
approach was adopted, much to the overall benefit
of the film. "A
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 ...
After she quit the EQ movie series Margaret Lindsay was again cast in a adaptation of a popular radio show "Crime Doctor" (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.
Another déjà-vu for Margaret as she was cast again opposite William Gargan in "No Place for a Lady" (1943). Gargan plays private eye Jess Arno, while Lindsay is Jess' ever-faithful, long-suffering fiancée June Terry. According 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.
By 1947, looking tired and
overweight, Lindsay had segued into supporting roles.
Occasionally appearing as a supporting role in MGM films like "Cass
with Spencer Tracy, her film career was in decline
with roles in films at Poverty Row studios like Monogram Pictures and PRC.
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. On television she appeared as Elly in "The Chadwick Family", an unsuccessful 1974 TV pilot with Fred MacMurray.
Margaret was relatively open about her
lesbian sexuality within
the Hollywood community. Although being romantically linked
to several male stars she was also linked to Janet Gaynor. Her close
companion was actress Mary McCarty.
(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
Additional video & audio sources
(1) Lady Killer, Movie clip 1933
(2) Frisco Kid, Movie trailer, 1935
(3) Sinner Take All, Movie clip, 1936
(4) Jezebel, Movie clip, 1938
Page first published before 2009
Latest update August 20, 2017
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