Collin Wilcox (actress)

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Collin Wilcox
Collin Wilcox 1958.JPG
Wilcox in 1958
Born(1935-02-04)February 4, 1935
DiedOctober 14, 2009(2009-10-14) (aged 74)
OccupationFilm, stage, and television actress
Years active1953–2003
Spouse(s)Walter Beakel (divorced)
Geoffrey Horne (divorced)
Scott Paxton
(m. 1979)

Collin Wilcox (February 4, 1935 – October 14, 2009) was an American film, stage and television actress. Over her career, she was also credited as Collin Wilcox-Horne or Collin Wilcox-Paxton. Wilcox may be best known for her role in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), in which she played Mayella Violet Ewell, whose father falsely claimed she had been raped by a Black man, which sparks the trial at the center of the film.


Early years

Wilcox was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved with her family to Highlands, North Carolina, as a baby. Her interest in theater was sparked by her parents, [1] Jack H. and Virginia Wilcox, who founded the Highlands Community Theater (now known as the Highlands Playhouse) in 1939.

She attended the University of Tennessee, where she studied drama. [1]


Wilcox made her professional debut in Chicago as part of the improvisational group, The Compass Players, [1] which included Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and Shelley Berman.

Playing opposite Richard Basehart, Kevin McCarthy, and William Hansen, Wilcox won the Clarence Derwent Award for her performance in The Day The Money Stopped [2] by Maxwell Anderson and Brendan Gill, which lasted only three nights on Broadway in 1958. She starred in the 1961 play Look, We've Come Through with Burt Reynolds on Broadway. She replaced another actress in the 1963 revival of Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude and then went on to do the 1965 play The Family Way, both on Broadway.

A life member of The Actors Studio, [3] Wilcox is perhaps best known for her role in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird , in which she played Mayella Violet Ewell, who falsely accuses Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) of raping her. Following that cinematic acting success, she performed two very memorable roles for television in 1964: The Twilight Zone episode "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "The Jar", based on the Ray Bradbury short story.

She appeared as Bess Frye in a 1972 episode of Gunsmoke titled "Jubilee". In 1974, she co-starred with Peter Falk and Robert Conrad in the Columbo episode "An Exercise in Fatality" as Ruth Stafford. She remained active performing both on television and in films. Her final role was that of Mrs. Kline in the movie A Touch of Fate, which was released in 2003, six years before her death.

Civil rights activism

She recalled receiving "unfriendly looks" when she showed up at an NAACP conference in Monterey, California, where an official had to remind participants: "Collin is here at this conference because she believes in the cause. She is not the character in the film." This was due to the fact that, in the film To Kill a Mockingbird , she played a white woman who falsely accused Tom Robinson, a black man, of raping her. [4]


On October 14, 2009, Wilcox died from brain cancer, aged 74, at her home in Highlands, North Carolina. [5] She was cremated and her ashes returned to her family. [6]


Selected television appearances

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  1. 1 2 3 Lentz, Harris M., III (2010). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2009: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 562. ISBN   9780786456451 . Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  2. "The Clarence Derwent Award". The Equity Awards. Actors Equity. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  3. Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio . New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p.  278. ISBN   0-02-542650-8.
  4. "Collin Wilcox Paxton dies at 74; actress was Mayella in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'". Los Angeles Times . October 23, 2009.
  5. Fox, Margalit (October 22, 2009). "Collin Wilcox, Actress in 'To Kill A Mockingbird', Dies at 74". The New York Times . Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  6. Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN   9781476625997 via Google Books.