Place of Death
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
You're Telling Me!, WAMPAS Baby Star of 1931
Profile Bio Text
Marsh was the daughter of Charles Rosser, the favorite cinematographer of silent film actress Mary Pickford. Joan was born in Porterville, California and was only nine months old when she appeared in the Universal Pictures film Hearts Aflame. After a number of baby roles Joan became a child star in Pickford films like Daddy Long Legs and Pollyanna.
She attended private schools and ran away from a couple of them. A classmate, Cecelia Parker, greeted Joan`s announcement that she was returning to films with the reply, "You`re finished. You are much too fat." As a youth, acting in films until she was eight, Joan had become both "fat and sassy."
By the age of fourteen Joan was again in films, playing ingenue roles. She had also slimmed down. In 1930 she made The King of Jazz in which she sang together with Bing Crosby on a park bench. At this time Crosby was an unknown, one of the "Rhythm Boys". Marsh flirted with big-time stardom a few times. Most notably was when Frank Borzage chose her for a role intended for Janet Gaynor in the movie "Lucky Star". At the last minute Miss Gaynor returned to make the film. Borzage bestowed on her the screen name Joan Marsh. Her given name was Nancy Ann Rosher. Earlier she had used the name Dorothy Rosher for films like Hearts Aflame.
Joan received an ample amount of co-star billing in her career. However she was never able to go beyond the "fluttery-cutie" parts which the studios nearly always placed her in. MGM once signed her to a starring contract and then loaned her out all over Hollywood. Finally they put her in an insignificant motion picture which featured William Haines. Although she was given equal billing, she had but one line, "Is it?"
In 1940, age 25, Joan embarked on what was truly her third film career. Three years before she married Charles Belden, and resolved to make her marriage a full-time career. The two met after Marsh played the ingenue role in Charlie Chan On Broadway. Belden was the film`s writer. In the three years following this union she appeared in a couple of minor roles simply for the fun of it. Again she ran into the old difficulty of ending up with perennial "cutie pie" roles. Then Paramount Pictures hired her for The Road To Zanzibar with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Joan played a magician`s assistant.
She possessed the talent of a fine comedian. However, with her figure, together with the black tights and costume, few noticed her acting ability. Even off-screen, walking across the studio lot to the cafe`, Joan attracted considerable attention.
In the 1930s Joan Marsh played roles in support of bigger stars like Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and Loretta Young. Some critics believed she "stole" Three Girls Lost (1931) from Young. But her status in Hollywood did not change. She continued on with backing roles in "A" Films and lead roles in "Z" Films such as High Gear (1933). In the latter she appeared opposite fallen star James Murray.
Joan`s marriage to Charles Belden endured until 1943. By then her film career was all but over. Later she managed a stationery shop in Hollywood. She died in Ojai, California on August 10, 2000.
Full Name at Birth
Nancy Ann Rosher
Charles Rosher Jr
Has Detailed Data (New)
Joan Marsh (born Nancy Ann Rosher, July 10, 1913 – August 10, 2000) was an American child actress in silent films between 1915 and 1921. Later, during the sound era, she resumed her acting career and performed in a variety of films during the 1930s and 1940s.
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