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M.W. Godwin Linda Darnell Collection

Identifier: SC-MS-154

Scope and Contents

The M.W. Godwin Linda Darnell Collection was assembled by Minot West Godwin, a passionate fan and collector, and consists of two major parts. The first relates to Godwin and his research, correspondence, and some non-Darnell materials. The majority of the collection consists of material relating to Linda Darnell, including personal papers, content related to the production and exhibition of her films, clippings, and ephemera. These include but are not limited to over 4,000 photos (studio, press photos, and film stills), scripts, foreign and domestic magazines and clippings, and foreign and domestic exhibition materials (theater programs, posters, lobby cards, and exhibitor and showmanship guides, etc.). These materials document a vast amount of Darnell's career in film and also include materials related to her radio, television, and stage work.

The Darnell family photo album (consisting of photocopies of the original) also document Darnell's first husband, John Peverell Marley's ( "Pev" Marley) career as a camera man with Cecil B. DeMille prior to his marriage to Darnell.

Early dated material may include photocopies and not the original photo of documents.


  • Creation: circa 1910s-1936 (photocopies), 1936-1998
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1936-1966

Language of Materials

Majority of collection is in English, with numerous clippings, flyers, magazines and film programmes in various languages.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Linda Darnell (born Monetta Eloyse Darnell; October 16, 1923 – April 10, 1965) was an American actress, whose career spanned the late 1930s to the early 1960s. Raised by a stage mother in Texas, Darnell ("Tweedles" to her family) was groomed for possible stardom. After some success at local modeling competitions in Texas, Darnell was presented to a 20th-Century Fox talent scout by her mother in 1937. Impressed by Darnell, the scout reported her to the studio, who paid for her to travel to Los Angeles for a screentest (Fox would adapt her story into the 1940 film Star Dust). Mistakenly believing Darnell to be 18, the studio sent her home when they discovered her true age: 14. Undeterred, and with influence from her mother, Darnell entered a radio talent contest sponsored by rival studio RKO-Radio Pictures. Returning to Los Angeles as a finalist in the competition, Fox decided to offer her a contract, and she would film her first starring role at 15 the following year: Elsa Maxwell's Hotel for Women (1939). Darnell would stay a Fox contract star into the 1950s, where she specialized in playing woman with a devious edge. After her contract with Fox ended, Darnell did individual films for both international and Hollywood productions. Later in life she faced financial troubles, alcoholism, and several failed marriages. Attempts to enter television had limited success, but she did have some success on stage in her later years. In 1965, Darnell was badly burned in a house fire and died shortly afterwards from her injuries.


25 Containers (Contains 7 bankers boxes, 10 oversize boxes, 3 document boxes, and 5 map case folders.)

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Linda Murphy in 1999.


An addition was donated by James Cunningham in 2009.

Related Materials

Further material related to Linda Darnell can be found in the Jeff Gordon Collection at the Hamon Art Library at Southern Methodist University. The RC Cola Corporate records, for whom Darnell was a spokesperson, are in the Chero-Cola, Nehi, Royal Crown Cola Company Records at the Columbus State University Archives.

M. W. Godwin Linda Darnell Collection
Matthias Smith
2022 May 31
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository