Shirley Mills Hanson, 83, a former child actress who played young Ruthie Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath," director John Ford's classic 1940 film based on the John Steinbeck novel, died March 31 of complications of pneumonia at a convalescent hospital in Arcadia, said stepdaughter Deniece Zwick.
Born April 8, 1926, in Tacoma, Wash., Hanson moved with her family to Southern California in 1937 to break into the movies. A crying scene with Gloria Jean in the 1939 musical "The Under-Pup" prompted Ford to test her for the role of Ruthie Joad.
Among other films in which she appeared as Shirley Mills are "Young People" and "Miss Annie Rooney," both starring Shirley Temple. Hanson also was a teenage member of Universal's jitterbug dance troupe the
Jivin' Jacks and Jills in the '40s and worked as a fashion and advertising model. After later working as a nightclub performer and stage personality, Hanson became a female pioneer in selling data-processing services in the 1960s and became the first female president of the Data Processing Management Assn. in Los Angeles. She then became vice president of marketing and public relations for Management Applied Programming, a major data processing center, for which she started a division for nonprofit organizations.
Hanson also launched her own wedding planning company, A Party for All Seasons.
She married Mel Hanson in 1977; he died in a car accident 18 years later.
MILLS, Shirley Olivia
Born: 4/8/1926, Tacoma, Washington, U.S.A.
Died: 3/31/2010, Arcadia, California, U.S.A.
Shirley Mills western - actress:
Virginian City - 1940 (crying young Southern girl)