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Subject: She may be. Helton was the big-eyed wife (carrying baby) of Jack Albertson in that clip. Amazingly Helton (aka; Jo Wintker) had a screen career break from 1967 to 2014, appearing since in a dozens film/TV projects, including sequel "Dumb & Dumber To"! ...

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Date Posted: Thursday, May 30, 11:22:26am
In reply to: I can't find anything that says she has died. 's message, "I believe Jo Helton is also still living." on Thursday, May 30, 02:36:38am

PHOTO of Helton today

ARCHIVE 2007 article

Outspoken actress left Hollywood for simple life. ...
By ERIN EDGEMON Business Editor
Apr 1, 2007

Jo Wintker has shared the silver screen with such legendary stars as Sidney Poitier and John Wayne, but the self-proclaimed country girl abandoned the glitz of Hollywood for a simpler life.

"I kissed John Wayne in a movie," said the Murfreesboro resident who left Southern California in the late 1960s. "I still get residuals." Wintker, who then went by her maiden name Helton, got her foot in the door in Hollywood by playing a floozy in "The Duke's "1960 film "North to Alaska." She said Poitier, who she appeared in "The Slender Thread" with in 1965, was a "class gentleman," but Wayne was a "bore."

The straight-shooting character is one of three highly skilled and experienced actors lending their talents to the Murfreesboro Ensemble Theatre's final performance. Wintker, stage actor and MTSU grad Sara Croft and versatile actor and coach Arita Trahan will each perform a dramatic monologue from Alan Bennett's "Talking Heads" this month at the Murfreesboro/Rutherford County Center for the Arts. "Talking Heads" opens April 12 at the Center for the Arts at 110 W. College St. "Because it is the last show, I wanted it to be extra special," said Tom Harris, MET co-founder and artistic director. "I wanted it to be small and high quality. "I wanted to bring in the very best talent," he added. Wintker, who has appeared in several MET productions, said this month's show will be her last, and she wants all of her friends to know she means it. "I am getting too old," she said matter-of-factly. "This is it. There ain't going to be another one." Wintker, 73, hadn't acted for about 30 years before being pulled back on the stage by her dear friend and local theater benefactor Nelda Pope. The Jackson native had moved back to Tennessee and spent the rest of her career working with adoptive and foster parents.

Before leaving Hollywood, Wintker appeared in many of the television dramas of the early '60s such as "The Twilight Zone," "Gunsmoke," "The Fugitive" and "The Untouchables." One of her most famous roles was playing a salty, head nurse in the television series "Dr. Kildare" for five years. Wintker got to know the show's star, Richard Chamberlain, quite well. He wasn't pretentious like many of the actors he worked with. "Dr. Kildare' reruns paid for me to go to graduate school," she said. Harris directs Wintker in her role as Violet in "Waiting for the Telegram." Violet is an elderly woman living in a nursing home who thinks back over her life and over her lost loves and friends. Croft, who has lived off and on in New York City for more than 40 years, plays Susan, a vicar's wife who discovers new things about herself and God through unconventional means.

Local actors and MTSU theater professors Crosby Hunt and Deborah Anderson directed Croft in "Bed amongst the Lentils." Because of her ties to Middle Tennessee, Croft has been invited a few times to perform in MET productions. "I feel like the woman herself, there is a poignancy to her life," Croft said of her character. "There is a poignancy to it being the last production of the Murfreesboro Ensemble Theatre." Just a few years after graduating from MTSU with an English degree, she headed off to New York City to study acting and audition for roles. "It is a wonderful when you are working," Croft said. "I am sure it is a glorious life if you are one of the ones who work all the time and enjoy great success. That must be fun." She once understudied for Elizabeth Ashley in the lead role of Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Croft also has appeared in off-Broadway productions and on the daytime soap "All My Children."

Croft considers her proudest acting moment was receiving praise from acting teacher Sanford Meinser for playing Blanche in a scene from "A Streetcar Named Desire." "Mr. Meinser's words sustained me for years," she said. Trahan, of Nashville, plays Rosemary in "Nights in the Gardens of Spain" directed by Woodbury-based lawyer and professional actor Richard Northcutt. "Talking Heads" is Trahan's third MET production. Rosemary is a lonely woman who befriends a neighbor to the point of obsession. "I want to be involved with a beautiful piece of work," Trahan said, "and everything I have done at MET is a beautiful piece of work." She said she is honored to be in a production with Wintker and Croft. "I would have just been so sad if I didn't get to be associated with it," Trahan said. Trahan, 55, is perhaps best known to Tennesseans for her memorable role as husband with her dream wedding in a Tennessee Lottery commercial. But she also has appeared in such movies as "21 Grams" with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Trahan didn't start acting until she was in her 30s. "I always wanted to do it, but I was scared to try at first," she said. "I didn't want to die without trying it." So she jumped right in and started taking acting lessons. "I never guessed I would be able to make a living as an actor," Trahan admitted. She also has worked as an acting teacher for 12 years. She enjoys the experience of climbing into another character and working with talented actors and directors. "You never know where something is going to take you," Trahan said. "I get to get up and do what I like. I wish that for the rest of the world."

Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at eedgemon@murfreesboropost.com.


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