Q & A with Denise Noe: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing: The Life of Marie Windsor
Q. What led you to want to write a biography of Marie Windsor?
A. I was very impressed with her performance as Sherry in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing. I had seen other films in which I thought her performance stood out and even to some degree carried the show. Her looks always impressed me as she was beautiful but in a non-stereotypical way. She seemed like a person who was interesting and I thought it would be interesting to write about her.
Q. Why did you title it A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?
A. Marie Windsor played all kinds of roles and played them well but is best-known for her femme fatale, or “bad women,” roles. In real life, she was a deeply ethical and morally sensitive individual. The contrast between the fine person she was and the often wicked roles she played led to the title.
Q. What were your sources in researching the biography?
A. One important source was Marie Windsor’s adult son, Rick Hupp. In fact, if I had not had his cooperation, I probably would not have written this book. It was vitally important for this book that I see all the movies and TV shows in which Marie Windsor appeared that I could. I spent a lot of time watching DVDs and watching shows on YouTube. I delved into newspaper and magazine archives. I called people who had worked with Marie Windsor.
Q. How long did it take you to write the book?
A. It took about a year to complete the book. I worked on it several hours a day every single day unless I was sick.
Q. Did you learn anything surprising when researching her life?
A. Some sources described her as a Mormon. I learned that she was not a Mormon although people in her family were. I was surprised to learn that she had made up jokes and gags and sent them to Jack Benny. She sent them as “M. E. Windsor” because she feared he would be prejudiced against a female gag writer.
Q. What was most special about Marie Windsor as an actress?
A. Perhaps it was her flexibility. She played in film noir and westerns and science fiction and comedies, in movies and television and stage. Another thing that was special about her is that why she brought special skills to the table that were used in movies. For example, she learned how to ride a horse while growing up in small town Utah — a skill that was very useful in Westerns. She also learned skills on the job that were quite useful like twirling a gun.
Q. Is her son, Rick Hupp, happy with the book you wrote about his mother?
A. He is delighted with it. He said he learned new things about her from the book that deepened his appreciation for her.
Q. What was the most difficult thing about researching and writing this book?
A. Tracking people down who had known Marie Windsor and persuading them to talk with me.
Q. What was most enjoyable about it?
A. Watching the movies in which Marie acted.
Q. Why should people buy this book?
A. Marie Windsor was a very talented and skilled actress. She had a wonderful range in parts she could play. The parts she played often went against conventional gender norms and could be viewed as expanding things for women. She pursued a profession, was a wife, and raised a child and step-child. She lived a rich and full life.