Movie Reviews

Joan Weldon Dies, Star of Sci-Fi Creature Classic ‘Them!’ Was 90

In sad news, Joan Weldon, the stage and television actress best known for her performance in the iconic sci-fi monster movie Them!, has passed away. Though Weldon died on Feb. 11, her family had just recently announced the news. She was 90 years old.

“With profound sadness, we announce the passing of Joan Louise Weldon Podell, a loving and devoted mother, wife, grandmother and dear friend, on February 11 th , 2021,” the family stated in Weldon’s obituary. “She passed away peacefully at her home in Fort Lauderdale, FL. A talented and successful opera singer and actress of theatre, film, musicals and television, she was simply known to many as Joanie, whose love for light-hearted pranks and practical jokes spread joy wherever she went.”

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Weldon was born Joan Louise Welton on Aug. 5, 1930. Left motherless at six years old and raised by her grandmother, Joan made her professional debut as a singer at the age of 16 with the San Francisco Opera Company, making her the youngest singer under contract at the time. She also sang with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera and this led to singing and acting on Broadway. Weldon would go on to land lead roles in stage productions of big shows like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, The Music Man, and Oklahoma.

During the 1950s, Weldon achieved great fame by appearing in a slew of movies, including six Warner Bros. classics. Her most famous work is appearing in a lead role as Dr. Pat Medford in Them!, a classic “big bug” movie about gigantic irradiated ants attacking people. Still fondly remembered as one of the best creature features of its era, a scene of Weldon as Dr. Medford was included as an Easter egg in the 2018 Marvel movie Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Released in 1954, the Oscars nominated Them! was one of six movies that Weldon made for Warner Bros. within a one-year span. Starting in 1953, Weldon would also be featured in The System, The Grace Moore Story, The Stranger Wore a Gun, Riding Shotgun, and The Command. Weldon would also make several appearances on television during the 1950s, with roles on famous shows like Cheyenne, Perry Mason, Maverick, and Shirley Temple’s Storybook. Her final acting role was for the 1958 drama Home Before Dark.

On Twitter, WB Classic Films acknowledged the passing of the actress who starred in so many classic Warner Bros. movies during the 1950s. Posting the news of Weldon’s passing, the tweet reads: “Sad news – she elevated the movie [Them] into something special!”

Fans have also begun paying tribute on social media, with one saddened fan writing, “Just found out the actress Joan Weldon passed away a couple of weeks ago. She starred in the first horror/Sci fi movie I ever saw, the fantastic 1954 classic ‘THEM!’ which remains one of my favourite films to this day. Rest in peace Joan.”

Weldon’s survivors include her husband of 56 years, Dr. David L. Podell Jr., daughter, Melissa, stepdaughter Claudia, and grandchildren Sienna, Alexander, and Ella. Our thoughts go out to them at this time. May Joan Weldon rest in peace as her legacy lives on forever. This news comes to us from Deadline.

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