Edna Green (formerly Edna May Wonacott) celebrated her 78th birthday on February 6. In her honor, we posted the first part of my recent interview with her on that day. Part 1 can be viewed by scrolling down the page.
Like so many kids of that era, Edna May had an autograph book. When it was Alfred Hitchcock's turn to sign, he did it as one might expect - with a twist. He signed the last page in the book and with his left hand (he was right-handed): "By hook or by crook, I'll be the last one to sign in this book."
At the end of the shoot, there was a goodbye party in San Francisco. Edna May received many gifts that she still cherishes, including an inscribed bracelet from Teresa Wright, a scarf with a "pigtail" motif from Joseph Cotten and a golden bow from Hitchcock inscribed "to Ann Newton from Alfred Hitchcock." Edna reports that Hitchcock never called her anything but Ann throughout the making of Shadow of a Doubt.
Edna May, of course, was a local celebrity in Santa Rosa (population 19,000 at the time). She recalls: "There was a lot of publicity and women would come into dad's store and want to touch the father of a movie star! I have lots of scrapbooks of the publicity and had quite a write-up in Life magazine and was in movie magazines. Little girls with pigtails and glasses suddenly started showing up on the street corners in town!"
When Shadow of a Doubt was released, it premiered in Santa Rosa and Pat Hitchcock came up from Hollywood and attended with Edna May. There was quite a hubbub in town over the film and its release signaled a war bond drive, with Edna May kicking it off at the courthouse in Santa Rosa. She also took a trip to sell war bonds in Salinas when the movie opened there.
Because she had recently signed a five-year contract with producer Jack Skirball, Edna May and her parents moved to Glendale following the release of Shadow of a Doubt. Her older brother, then in college, stayed in Santa Rosa and ran the family store until he went into the military and served in World War II.
Her first assignment for Skirball was to be It's in the Bag with Fred Allen, and Edna May was to have equal billing. But Allen balked at this and refused to work with her. Ultimately, her contract was broken, but when the film was eventually made without her, Edna May was paid in full.
At this point, she signed with an agent who exclusively handled child actors.
Edna May had small roles in several more films, and she has warm memories of working on Leo McCarey's The Bells of Saint Mary's (1945), a film nominated for eight Oscars and winner of one. She played Delphine, one of the girls about to graduate from St. Mary's, the one who smacks a baseball through a window in Mr. Bogardus' (Henry Travers) new building. Edna recalls that, like Shadow of a Doubt, the atmosphere on the set was "just like family." Ingrid Bergman was "a real sweetheart who said hello to everyone from the janitor on up when she came on the set." Edna also remembers that a member of the crew would play a little tune on an ocarina whenever Miss Bergman arrived. She adds, "We had a lot of fun with Bing Crosby - since there was a schoolyard set, he was always playing basketball with the kids."
Edna left acting at the beginning of the 1950s when she married.
Today, Edna Green feels fortunate to have been in Hollywood during the Golden Age.
"I have nothing but good memories of working in Hollywood. It was a different era than it is now and, being as young as I was, I didn't feel like an actress...I was just a kid who did what she was told to do."
Along with her memories, Edna has a treasure-trove of memorabilia from Shadow of a Doubt. From her scrapbooks, the issue of Life magazine and the prized goodbye gifts, to her original script with its cover signed by Hitchcock and the entire cast.
Edna is honored to have been a part of such an iconic film, one of Hitchcock's most celebrated, but is amazed that people are still interested in her. She remarked that some friends recently watched Shadow of a Doubt after Edna told them she was in it. They were quick to tell her: "You are just exactly like you were in that movie."
And I'll admit that at times during our conversation I could hear a little bit of Ann Newton as I talked with Edna Green.
Looking back, Edna considers that her entire life - her early days in Santa Rosa, the years in Hollywood, her 57-year marriage, raising three boys - has been filled with good times. Though she's lost her beloved dad (at age 90) and mom (at age 102) and, more recently, her brother and husband, Edna has her sons, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, her friends and many wonderful memories of a good life and a very special childhood.