Anne Gwynne: Chris Pine’s Cool Grandmother

Well, you just want Anne Gwynne (1918-2003) to be related to Fred Gwynne, but her real name was Marguerite Gwynne Trice. And while the man from The Munsters was the quintessential easterner, Anne Gwynne grew up in Waco and St. Louis. But you know who she IS related to? Chris Pine. She is his grandmother. For real!

Gwynne’s father was an apparel manufacturer, which led naturally to her modelling swimwear. She was also competed in beauty pageants and was voted Miss Antonio. From here she appeared in community theatre versions of Stage Door and The Colonel’s Lady. Universal signed her in 1939, and she was closely identified with that studio for many years. In her first film Unexpected Father (1939) she had a walk-on as a show-girl. Since vaudeville and classic comedy are our main bailiwick we will tell you off the bat, she had a supporting role in Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939), Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942) with Abbott and Costello (1942), You’re Telling Me (1942) with Hugh Herbert, and Jail House Blues (1942) with Nat Pendleton. 

But the genres she was most closely identified were horror and westerns. Of the former there was Black Friday (1940) with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, The Black Cat (1941) with Lugosi and Basil Rathbone, Weird Woman (1944) with Lon Chaney Jr., and House of Frankenstein (1944) with Karloff and Chaney, as well as the ghost comedy The Spook Goes Wild (1947), and sci fi serials like The Green Hornet (1940), Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940), and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947). Her presence in Ride ‘Em Cowboy is an indication of her association with westerns, like Bad Man from Red Butte (1940), Frontier Bad Men (1943), and perhaps the most notorious one of all, King of the Bullwhip (1950) with Lash La Rue. The height of her popularity was probably the World War Two years, when she was also one of the top pin-ups among servicemen.

In 1947, she became a regular on the first filmed television program, Public Prosecutor, which lasted until 1951. Breakdown (1952) was produced by her husband, Max Gilford. Motherhood slowed her career in the 1950s, although westerns and horror continued to be her mainstays as she appeared on tv shows like Death Valley Days and Northwest Passage, and films like Teenage Monster (1958) her last. After a dozen years away from movie screens she took a small role in Adam at Six A.M. (1970) starring a young Michael Douglas in his second starring role.

But wait! There’s more! Gwynne’s daughter Gwynne Gilford (b. 1946) was a television actress with two dozen credits between 1969 and 1987. Gilford is married to Robert Pine, best remembered as a regular on CHiPs, on which Gilford also frequently appeared. Their son Chris Pine was cast as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot, and also played Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman reboot, and lots of other things that aren’t necessarily reboots. What’s old is new again!