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Popular 1950s Actress Mona Freeman Dies at 87

Was named New York City’s first ‘Miss Subways’ in 1941, when she was 14

Isabel Fattal
June 11, 2014
Mona Freeman with 'Streets of Laredo' co-star William Holden in 1948.(Paramount Pictures)

Mona Freeman with ‘Streets of Laredo’ co-star William Holden in 1948.(Paramount Pictures)

Mona Freeman, first ‘Miss Subways’ and Longtime Actress, Dies at 87
Freeman, whose screen career lasted from 1940s-1970s, died in her Beverly Hills home

Mona Freeman, a regular both in Hollywood and on the New York subway lines, died May 23 at the age of 87, the New York Times reports. Freeman, who was born in Baltimore and moved as a child to Pelham, N.Y., began modeling at age 14. She was selected to be the inaugural ‘Miss Subways’ in 1941, a competition organized by the New York Subways Advertising Company and the John Robert Powers modeling agency, which ran through 1976. Placards with the Miss Subways’ photos and biographies were placed in thousands of cars on the IRT, IND and BMT lines.

According to Freeman’s Miss Subways biography, she was “interested in school dramatics, Broadway, and Hollywood.” These dreams came true: Freeman’s Miss Subways title led her to an acting career that lasted until the early 1970s. Freeman was continuously cast in the role of the innocent teenager throughout the 1940s and 50s, appearing in films such as The Heiress, Junior Miss, and Dear Ruth.

After her acting career ended in the 1970s, Freeman became a portrait painter. Freeman died in her home Beverly Hills, California and is survived by one daughter, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Isabel Fattal, a former intern at Tablet Magazine, attends Wesleyan University.

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