Grace McDonald

Grace McDonald, 1940s actress and dancer who appeared in many Universal musicals and comedies, died Saturday after a battle with double pneumonia at the Scottsdale Healthcare Clinic in Arizona. She was 81.

McDonald began her show business career as the tap-dancing partner of her brother, Ray McDonald. They appeared on the vaudeville stage and toured the East Coast and Broadway.

She came to Hollywood in 1940 and was soon signed by Universal Studios. Her film credits include 1942’s “Give Out, Sisters,” starring the Andrews Sisters; 1943’s “It Ain’t Hay,” with Abbott and Costello; and Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson’s “See My Lawyer” (1945).

Her work on 1944’s “Destiny” marked a unique point in her career: Though noted for her dancing skill, she played the entire role sitting down.

McDonald donated time to several charities, and acted as president of the Variety Club Heart Hospital at the U. of Minnesota.

She is survived by her husband, three sons and seven grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held today at 1 p.m. at the Messinger Mortuary & Chapel in Scottsdale. A service also will be held Sunday in Minneapolis.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Basilica of St. Mary’s, the Wushburn Child Guidance Center in Minneapolis, or the J. Phillips Center for Jewish/Christian Learning at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minn.

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