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Gertrude Warner in a fragment of Ellery Queen's The Message in Red (1945)Gertrude Warner (Apr 2, 1917 - Jan 26, 1986)  

Gertrude Warner in MI. (Oct 19, 1940)








Marriages:
(1) Unknown (May 1946 - ?)
(2) Carl Frank, director (1955-1957)
     Son: Douglas "Dougie" Warner Frank (1956)
Brother: James L. Warner II


Warner was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1917. Her father was James L. Warner, who died not long after the great crash of 1929 and her mother was Mildred Lovejoy Warner.

After graduating from high school and college she planned on being a school teacher in her hometown Hartford but soon found herself hosting a series of Home Economics daytime programs of the era (at WTIC Hartford )
. Her radio colleagues tagged her with the nickname "Butch" for her year or so, broadcasting butcher tips, home economics advice and table etiquette. She was also appearing in some dramatic productions for the station as early as the mid-1930s.

Since she had aspirations of becoming a dramatic actress (she already had a sideline as a blues singer) - she journeyed to New York. A talent scout saw her, gave her a radio audition, and she got her break. At NBC Red she played daughter Christy on the critically acclaimed daytime drama Against the Storm. (Oct 1939) This program which took place at the "Deep Pool Farm" in Hawthorne, Connecticut starred Roger DeKoven, Gertrude Warner, Arnold Moss and Joan Alexander. It depicted the "every-day-lives" of the Professor (of Hawthorne's fictional Harper University) Jason McKinley Allen (Roger DeKoven), his wife, their daughters & this family's many friends.
 

Unknown until a year before our young Hartford actress, was heard as Lee Barker in The O'Neills, a popular daytime serial. (Nov 1940) Publicity shot for NBC's Gertrude Warner (around 1940-41) Ellen Randolph, told the private life and personal problems of Ellen, the young wife of missionary (George) as she struggles to save her marriage, which is threatened by her husband's belief that he is a failure.

Around May 1940 Gertrude was heard Monday through Fridays over NBC on Light of the World a Biblical series transplanting the Bible into modern prose on Jun 29, 1940 she was hear in "The Twenty-First Girl" an episode of Listeners Playhouse.

Warner's first real starring role on radio came when she was 23, switching to CBS, she played Rebecca Lane, in Beyond These Valleys (Aug 1940) it featured her as a young girl who yearns for happiness beyond the valleys of the small Iowa in which she lives. Santos Ortega also appeared on this show.

Gertrude Warner and Sherling Oliver (David) in Beyond These Valleys (Nov 1940)The exciting adventures of a couple of ace reporters on a Metropolitan daily form the basis of the new, fast-moving drama series "City Desk", heard Thursday nights over Columbia network. Chester Stratton and Gertrude Warner, who portray the star reporting team are shown here on the receiving end of a hot tip of a big news story. (Hot Tip on a Big story, Mt.Pulaski Times) 
Starting January 2. 1941, Trudy appeared opposite Chester Stratton, Donald Briggs, James Meighan on the prime-time newspaper drama City Desk. A bit similar to Big Town, each weekly program was a complete story in itself, but the lead characters continued throughout.

The Playhouse
has hit on a novel idea, giving daytime listeners adaptations of popular movies, plays and books, each episode running over four to five weeks. 'Dark Victory' starred Gertrude Warner. (Oct 1940)

Unknown until a year before our young Hartford actress, was heard as Lee Barker in The O'Neills, a popular daytime serial. (Nov 1940)


On Dec 15, 1940 an excellent Gertrude was a guest in Behind The Mike. A program intended to satisfy the curiosity of listeners who want to know more about what goes on behind their loudspeakers. Gertrude Warner demonstrated her versatility as a radio actress (click radio to hear fragment).


Gertrude replaced Helene Dumas
as secretary Betty MacDonald in When a Girl Marries (April 26, 1941)

(The Story of) Ellen Randolph, told the private life and personal problems of Ellen, the young wife of missionary (George) as she struggles to save her marriage, which is threatened by her husband's belief that he is a failure.
It starred Gertrude Warner (Ellen Randolph) and John Griggs (April 1941)


Gertrude was featured in "The Glass Slipper" mystery series presented by "The Mystery Man."
(Nov 1941)

On April 29, 1942 she was heard on an episode of the Columbia Workshop called 'Play Ball', the human story of a local baseball game in a small town.

August 23, 1943
she appeared for the first time in Theater of Romance in an episode called 'Lady Hamilton' and after the extraordinarily well received Lux Radio Theatre production of Mrs. Miniver (1943), CBS elected to spin-off Mrs. Miniver (1943-1944) as a 5-day a week radio serial. Judith Evelyn was selected to portray Greer Garson's role from the film version until in 1944 Gertrude took over, first  temporarily then permanent.

By 1944 she'd been noticed and selected for both lead and co-starring support roles in a wide array of straight dramas and mystery or detective dramas. An article from 1944 claims Gertrude's year income was nearly $100,000. Following the success of her co-starring appearances with Victor Jory in Dangerously Yours (1944) and Matinee Theatre (1944-1945), and (again) appearing opposite Santos Ortega in The New Adventures of Perry Mason (1945) she appeared in  "Dark Victory," the dramatic success of stage and screen was heard on radio,  with the same Victor Jory in the role of Dr. Fred Steele. Gertrude Warner the Park avenue girl who learned that she is going blind. (Feb 5,1945)

She was picked up as the co-star in The Adventures of Ellery Queen (beginning Jul 25, 1945). She was also still appearing in Theatre of Romance, Brownstone Theatre (beginning Feb 21, 1945), The Mysterious Traveler (1945) and several daytime soap operas of the era.

Gertrude Trudy Warner Aka Della Street on Radio's Perry Mason. (1945)Gertrude Warner, (a hidden) Ellery Queen and Santos Ortega in the studio (11-1945)

The Mercury Theatre on the Air who produced live radio dramas briefly reappeared in 1946 and on Jun 28, 1946 Trudy appeared in Jane Eyre, the classic of English letters.
Trudy Warner was first married around May 1946, prompting a voluntary suspension of her radio career and her departure from the successful Ellery Queen Mystery program. Nikki was written out of the script until the middle of July when Charlotte Keane took over.
Around this time rumors were going around another Ellery Queen series would be filmed with Gertrude Warner, 'the Nicky of the air waves', starring. This never came to pass.
Apparently the retirement/suspension was short-lived, since by 1947 she was again appearing in yet another array of daytime dramas, regular adventure series' and specials. This was the case in Studio One
(1947-1948) the anthology series, created in 1947 by the 26-year-old Canadian director Fletcher Markle.

 Joyce Jordan's brilliant career as a surgeon has not prevented her from developing into a desirable, vital woman. She came to New York from Centerfield, and built up a private practice. Joyce made both her office and home in one of the city's old, quiet brownstone neighborhoods (played by Gertrude Warner) (Aug, 1948) Gertrude Warner as Joyce Jordan, MD (1949) 

Sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, Joyce Jordan, M.D. was a radio soap opera that was broadcast from 1944 daily in 15-minute episodes. Starring Trudy Warner (1947-48), the program was about a young woman doctor and her interactions with her patients and other people in her work and personal life. Prone to daydreaming, Joyce’s thoughts were heard throughout the program.  

From his very first broadcast in 1936, the banker-hero of New England, David Harum, became an on-the-air crusader "for love ... for happiness ... and the good way of life." Never married, he resided in the home of his sister, Polly Benson (called Aunt Polly on the show) and her husband, James, who operated the local hotel. This 15 minutes serial at one point (CBS, 1948) featured Gertrude Warner as Susan Wells opposite Cameron Prud'homme (David), Charme Allen (Aunt Polly) and Kenneth Williams (Brian Wells).

(L to R) Gertrude Warner(Susan Wells), Cameron Prud'homme (David), Charme Allen (Aunt Polly) and Kenneth Williams (Brian) in CBS' David Harum (Radio Mirror, photo play)Gertrude Warner and Bret Morrison as  Margo Lane and Lamont Cranston in the Shadow

She was also appearing in several Cavalcade of Americas (1949-1952), as well as the now routine number of concurrent daytime soap operas. In Sep 1948 she appeared as Margot Lane [7th] in The Shadow, with Brett Morrison. Gertrude often contended that she was hired for her ability to scream. She held that role for more than 6 years until 1954. Sadly, because many of the Shadow’s adventures were being recorded on magnetic tape at that time and then erased to use the tape over and over again, not many of Warner’s broadcasts remain for new generations to hear. 

Hosted by John Dickson Carr, Gertrude played in Murder by Experts 'The Dark Island" where a woman marries a writer when he rents a cottage on a lonely island owned by her father. Is he really, "The Scalpel Killer?" (Aug 8, 1949)

Opposite John Garfield she played Belle Mercer in "The Prizefighter and the Lady" in The MGM Theater of the Air
(Nov 11, 1949)

Her off-the-air-waves activities include hospital tours for the Theatre Wing as well as courses in art and singing.

Learning about the lives of great Americans can be hugely entertaining as well as educational. The NBC anthology program American Portraits made the most of this during the programs lengthy run. 'A Storm At Monticello' featured Gertrude (July 17, 1951) and the same year Dimension X (July 19, 1951) featured stories that were literally “out-of-this-world," had her going to Mars.

Whispering Streets, ran both on ABC and CBS Was originally a drama of life as seen thought the narration of a fictional female writer names Hope Winslow (played by Gertrude Warner 1952-1960). Whispering Streets, ran both on ABC and CBS Was originally a drama of life as seen thought the narration of a fictional female writer names 'Hope Winslow' (played by Gertrude Warner 1952-1960). Stories were complete in themselves until 1954 when it became a daily serial. The Hope Winslow character shared the host and narrators' role with Cathy Lewis, Bette Davis (ca.1958), Anne Seymour.

Because radio kept the actress busy, Trudy expressed little to no interest in silver or small screen work save for television commercials and a brief appearance (January 1960 to September 1960) as Claire English in TV's As the World Turns.

Returning to radio in one of the longest-running detective series Yours Truly Johnny Dollar (1961), Suspense (1962) and Theater Five (1964-65) a radio series whose title was derived from the fact that it was aired everyday at 5pm. Hosted by Fred Foy it was ABC’s attempt to revive radio drama, so everything in the show was top notch.

Later in her life, she taught acting for television at Oberlin College and Weist Barron studios.

Gertrude Warner died in New York City on January 26, 1986 from cancer. Her successful radio career continued for 28 years and well over 4,000 performances. She was considered one of the queens of daytime radio.

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References
(1) Wikipedia
(2) IMDb

(3) Old Time Radio Downloads
(4) RUSC
(5) OTRRpedia

Additional video & audio sources
(1) Joyce Jordan MD

(2) Whispering Streets (look for Hope Winslow)
Page first published on Jul 17. 2016  
Latest update Jul 17, 2016
  

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