Known as the bright radio "Quiz Kid," Vanessa Brown became a popular leading lady in films and stage productions of the 1940s and 1950s and later a respected writer.
During her heyday as an actress, Brown appeared in such varied productions as "The Seven Year Itch" opposite Tom Ewell on Broadway (a role later assumed by Marilyn Monroe in the film version) and the motion picture "Tarzan and the Slave Girl."
Brown toured with Katharine Hepburn in a Theatre Guild production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It" and became something of a protege of the legendary actress.
Among Brown's major films of the late 1940s and the early 1950s were "I've Always Loved You," "The Late George Apley," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "The Foxes of Harrow," "The Heiress," "The Fighter" and "The Bad and the Beautiful."
But acting was only a part of the many-faceted Brown's career.
Born Smylla Brind in Vienna, she was the brilliant daughter of two holders of doctoral degrees, language teacher Nah Brind and psychologist Anna Brind. When she was 9, the family fled to France and then to the U.S. to escape the Nazis.
The precocious child, who spoke German, French and Italian as well as English, was in elementary school in Manhattan when she heard that the producer of "Watch on the Rhine" was looking for a little girl with a German accent. She borrowed subway fare and went directly to author Lillian Hellman, wangling a part as an understudy. By the end of the play's run, she was a regular member of the cast.
At 14, Brown was dazzling national audiences of "Quiz Kids," a radio game show that ran from 1940 to 1953 and featured a panel of five exceptional children answering questions from listeners and studio audiences.
Brown also charmed producer David O. Selznick, who brought her to Hollywood. At 16, billed as Tessa Brind, she appeared in her first film, the 1944 "Youth Runs Wild."
Brown also became a playwright, author and journalist. She penned the play "Europa and the Bull," a novel, and the nonfiction book "The Manpower Policies of Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz." She was a correspondent for Voice of America and a frequent contributor to The Times and other publications.