Family & Companions
Best known for her Western roles opposite Roy Rogers, Penny Edwards had a brief but busy film career. As a child, she had shown a flair for performing that inspired her parents to send her to stage school. As a teenager, Edwards was dancing on Broadway in Cole Porter's "Let's Face It" and two years later with the "Ziegfeld Follies". Also an accomplished singer, Edwards joined the Municipal Opera Company of St. Louis but it was while appearing on stage in "The Duchess Misbehaves" that she was spotted by a Warner Bros. talent scout and signed to a contract. Her talent for song and dance were put to use in her screen debut in the musical "Wild Irish Rose" (1947). Later that year, she had a small role in "That Hagen Girl", acting opposite Ronald Reagan and Shirley Temple. 1948 saw the release of two more efforts, the musical "Two Guys from Texas" and "Feudin', Fussin" and A-Fightin'" with Donald O'Connor. After completing these projects, with no other prospective film work on the horizon, Edwards joined a traveling vaudeville troupe. After fourteen months on the road, she was signed by Republic Films to replace Roy Rogers' real-life wife Dale Evans as his on-screen leading lady in the Western "Sunset in the West" (1950). The film did especially well, and the studio, seeking to keep this successful team together, signed Edwards to a long-term contract. Together she and Rogers appeared in five more pictures released in 1950 and 1951. Republic later paired her with Rex Allen and Buddy Ebsen in "Utah Wagon Train" (1951) and then gave her top billing in "Million Dollar Pursuit" and "Street Bandits" (both 1951). Having proven herself as a capable leading lady, Edwards co-starred with the dashing Tyrone Power in "Pony Soldier" and with western hero Allan 'Rocky' Lane in "The Captive of Billy the Kid" (both 1952) and worked with Rory Calhoun in "Powder River" (1953). In 1954, Edwards joined the Seventh Day Adventists, bringing a halt to her career on religious grounds. Three years later, she resumed acting, starring in "The Dalton Girls" and "Ride a Violent Mile" but her film career never really picked up after that. Instead, she found employment in television, making guest appearances on such popular series as "Bonanza" "Wagon Train", "Perry Mason" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". The actress also continued to perform lucratively in commercials throughout the 1960s, notably as Miss Tiparillo and Miss Palmolive. Prior to her death from lung cancer in August 1998, Penny Edwards frequently made appearances at conventions and film festivals dedicated to Western films.