|Born||Josephine Constance Woodruff
September 13, 1904
Provo, Utah, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 1991 (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Urial Leo Higham (m. 1951–1957)
Reinhold L. Fehlberg (m. 1959–1984)
Edwina Booth (September 13, 1904 – May 18, 1991) was an American actress. She is best known for the 1931 film Trader Horn, during the filming of which she contracted an illness which effectively ended her movie career.
Born Josephine Constance Woodruff, the daughter of a doctor, in Provo, Utah, Booth's brief film career began in 1928 with the Dorothy Arzner-directed Manhattan Cocktail, which also featured Nancy Carroll and Richard Arlen.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was impressed with her, and cast Booth as an up-and-comer in its new jungle epic Trader Horn opposite Harry Carey. With MGM having a fairly large budget, filming took place on location in East Africa. Up until 1929, the only films shot in Africa were travelogues, but MGM was hoping that the idea of "location shooting" might increase the film's commercial appeal. The crew was inexperienced and ill-equipped for filming in Africa, a problem exacerbated by MGM's last-minute decision to shoot the film with sound.
In addition to the heat and insects, Booth contracted malaria during shooting. Her role in the film as "The White Goddess" required that she be very scantily clad, likely increasing her susceptibility. Production went on for several months (much longer than average production time in those days). Despite many problems with the film's production, Trader Horn was a success, securing an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
Booth, however, fared much worse; it took her six years to fully recover physically. She sued MGM for over a million dollars, claiming she had been provided with inadequate protection and inadequate clothing during the African shoot. She also claimed she had been forced to sunbathe nude for extended periods during filming. The case received a lot of attention in the tabloids and was eventually settled out of court. According to some sources, the terms were not disclosed; however, Brigham Young University archives indicate she settled for $35,000. She declared that she would be dedicating all of her future leisure and a large proportion of her earnings to the alleviation of human suffering, "My years of illness have not been wasted", she informed the local press. "I have learned to love mankind".
Booth was married three times. Anthony Shuck, her first husband, had their marriage annulled soon after her return from Africa. She married her second husband, Urial Leo Higham on November 21, 1951. He died in 1957. Her third husband was Reinold Fehlberg. They were married from 1959 until his death in 1983.
Although she appeared in a few subsequent serials, Booth's acting career never recovered, although she continued to receive fan mail right up to her death. She withdrew completely from the public eye, although it is said she became more active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, frequently attending the Los Angeles California Temple. There were many false rumors and reports of her demise until her death in 1991. She is buried in Santa Monica's Woodlawn Cemetery.
|1929||Our Modern Maidens||Undetermined role||Uncredited|
|1931||Trader Horn||Nina Trent, the White Goddess|
|The Vanishing Legion||Caroline Hall|
|1932||The Midnight Patrol||Joyce Greeley|
|The Last of the Mohicans||Cora Munro|
|Trapped in Tia Juana||Dorothy Brandon||Alternative title: Her Lover's Brother|