British thesp co-starred with James Mason in thrillers

Former Par exec Joyce Howard, died Nov. 23 in Santa Monica, Calif., of natural causes. She was 88.

Howard worked as a story analyst in Burbank, before being hired as executive assistant to Variety veep and Editorial Director Peter Bart, who was then creative affairs veep at Par. She also worked for Bob Evans finding literary properties for the studio. Howard moved up the ranks until she was an executive story editor for Paramount TV responsible for property acquition and development.

Born in England, Howard started out as an actress, starring with James Mason in thrillers “Terror House” and “They Met in the Dark” before turning to writing.

The multihyphenate left school at 17 because of a major surgery and decided to study acting for few terms at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Not long after, Howard starred in the play “Temporary Residence” at the Embassy Theatre in London.

Howard next found herself in her first film, “A Voice in the Night” in 1941, directed by Anthony Asquith. She starred in more than 10 films over the next 10 years including 1942’s “Terror House,” originally titled “The Night Has Eyes,” and 1943’s “They Met in the Dark.” She also played the title roles in “Mrs. Fitzherbert” and “The Gentle Sex.”

Howard acted in several plays, including “Romeo and Juliet” at the Old Vic and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” in London throughout World War II, even as Nazis were bombing the city.

She left acting to raise her three children with multi-hyphenate, Basil Sydney. Instead she wrote plays, including “Broken Silence,” which was produced by the BBC, and two novels, “Two Persons Singular” and “A Private View.”

In 1962, Howard remarried and two years later immigrated with her family to the U.S. She worked as a story analyst in Burbank, then was hired as executive assistant to Variety veep and Editorial Director Peter Bart, who was then creative affairs veep at Par. She also worked for Bob Evans. Howard moved up the ranks until she was an executive story editor for Paramount TV responsible for property acquition and development.

She continued to write for television and wrote original treatments for miniseries “The Whiteoaks” and a spesh called “Picasso’s Painted Ladies.”

Howard is survived by her three children, stepson Michael, one granddaughter and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 4 at SGI-USA Buddhist Center, 2601 Pico Blvd., in Santa Monica.

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