Joanne Dru was the heroine of 1940s and 1950s western films including Howard Hawks' classic "Red River."
After the Hawks film in 1948 came another important western, also starring John Wayne, the 1949 John Ford entry "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon."
Other oater roles included Ford's "Wagon Master," which inspired the later long-running television series "Wagon Train"; Disney's "Light in the Forest" with Fess Parker; "Return of the Texan" with Dale Robertson; "The Warriors"; and "Durango." Although studio contracts kept her out of early television, she did appear in some "Playhouse 90" presentations and the short-lived western series about New Yorkers running a dude ranch, "Guestward Ho!"
Dru aspired to comedy roles and did appear in a few non-western pictures, such as the Dizzy Dean biography "Pride of St. Louis," with Dan Dailey. But she grudgingly accepted the sagebrush sagas, and when westerns declined in popularity her career waned.
"Once you're typed," she told syndicated Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper in 1957, "you're lost."
Dru came west with her first husband, singer and actor Dick Haymes, and made her debut in the 1946 film "Abie's Irish Rose." Hawks spotted her sunning in Palm Springs and put her under contract for "Red River."