Helen Parrish

Sylvia Clark: You look like a man.
Gabby: Who? Me?
Sylvia Clark: ‘Course, it’s kind of dark and I can’t be sure.

–Helen Parrish as Sylvia Clark, Sunset Serenade (1942)

One of cinema’s child stars, Helen Parrish would grow up on screen and work alongside many big names in classic cinema. Born to Gordon Remer Parrish and Laura Reese Parrish on March 12, 1923, in Columbus, Georgia, Parrish would soon be on her way to a career in entertainment. Her father worked as a serviceman for Coca-Cola, while her mother was a stage actress.

Parrish had two older siblings: Beverly and Robert. Beverly passed away at the age of 10 after participating in one film. Robert would go on to become a child actor, editor, and producer.

When Parrish was very young, the family relocated to California, where the children began working in films. Parrish’s earliest screen appearances included playing Babe Ruth’s daughter in a silent film entitled Babe Comes Home (1927) in addition to appearing in Hal Roach’s Our Gang comedy shorts. Well-established as an actress by her teens, she went on to play various supporting roles in There’s Always Tomorrow (1934) and Straight From the Heart (1935) before notably working with Deanna Durbin’s rival in numerous musicals, including Mad About Music (1938), Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939), and First Love (1939).

In 1942, Parrish married actor and screenwriter Charles Lang, Jr., with whom she had two children: Charles George and Molly. She and Lang divorced in 1954.

Parrish married a second time to producer John Guedel in 1957. They remained married until her passing.

For the most part, Parrish retained work in B-level films. Her last film role would be in the Western The Wolf Hunters (1949) before Parrish turned her attention to television roles, including guest appearances on Leave it to Beaver and The Danny Thomas Show.

Tragically, Parrish was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away on February 22, 1959, at the age of 35.

Today, Parrish’s home in 1930 still stands at 956 N. Hudson Ave., Los Angeles, California. This is the property today:

Parrish also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6263 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.

Parrish is at rest at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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