Ellen Drew was a $50-a-week contract actress at Paramount who rose through the Hollywood ranks to star with such actors as Joel McCrea, Dick Powell and Rudy Vallee during the 1940s and '50s.
The story of her discovery reads like a page out of a starlet's diary. As a teenager, Drew entered a local beauty contest, which she won.
Shortly thereafter, she moved to Hollywood to try her luck in the movies, but quickly realized that she was just one among thousands of young women with the same dream.
Drew took a job as a waitress at C.C. Brown's, whose famed hot fudge sundaes drew a lot of celebrities to the Hollywood Boulevard shop. One of her customers was William Demarest, a character actor and actors' agent who told the pretty brunet that she could be in pictures.
Drew laughed at the classic Hollywood line, but eventually went for a screen test at Paramount, where she was put under contract for the minimum weekly salary.
For a couple of years she got only bit parts, but she finally got fifth billing in the 1938 musical comedy "Sing You Sinners," which also starred Bing Crosby and the 12-year-old Donald O'Connor. It was at this point that she changed her name, first to Erin Drew and later to Ellen Drew.
One of Drew's most notable films was "Christmas in July" (1940), which was written and directed by Preston Sturges and in which she starred opposite Powell.