Shirley Grey (Agnes Zetterstrand)
Photos with Shirley Grey
BiographyNaugatuck, Connecticut, USA
Born Agnes Zetterstrand in 1902 in the small industrial town of Naugatuck, Connecticut, Grey was the seventh surviving and youngest child of Swedish immigrants. Her life and that of her family was sent into turmoil when her father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1911. Grey's family eventually moved to Waterbury, Connecticut while she was in her sophomore year of High School. She graduated from Waterbury's Wilby High School in 1919. Grey began her acting career with Sylvester Poli's Stock Theater Company, The Poli Players. Read more... the Lyric Theater in Bridgeport, Connecticut. While with the Poli Players, she performed in weekly stock performances throughout Poli's chain of theaters. She performed with the Poli Players until 1924. During the fall of 1924, Grey was "discovered" by Crane Wilbur while performing in a theater production in Springfield, Massachusetts. She was subsequently offered a part in Wilbur's play, "The Imported Wife". Although, the play was ultimately a failure, her exposure in this production opened numerous theatrical doors over the next several years. During the balance of the 20s she co-starred with many of the periods more popular theater performers including, Edward Arnold, William Collier Sr. and George M. Cohan. Grey married Jack Crosby, Ronald Colman's business manager, in 1927. Under Crosby's guidance, she was able to break into film. She performed in bit movie parts at first, but by 1929 and 1930 was working at RKO Radio Pictures' shorts division. In March of 1931, she was offered the opportunity to screen test for Samuel Goldwyn. Busby Berkeley subsequently signed her to a five-year contract for Goldwyn's company. Grey performed in more than 45 films during her brief movie career. She received great reviews, as Edith Varney in Secret Service (1931). Phantom Ship (1935), a movie in which she co-starred in with Bela Lugosi, remains a cult favorite. She co-starred with Ralph Bellamy in the Inspector Trent film series at Columbia Pictures and was seen in numerous B westerns during her career supporting such actors as John Wayne, Tim McCoy and Buck Jones. She married British actor, Arthur Margetson, in 1936. This marriage, as with two prior marriages, ended in divorce. After her only son died in 1945 in World War II, her divorce, loss of her son and her inability to find work led to despair. She lived the remainder of her life - reclusive - with sisters in Providence, Rhode Island and Arlington, Virginia until she finally settled in Florida. She died in a Jacksonville Beach convalescent home in 1981.