HOLLYWOOD -- Film star Marian Nixon, who was Spencer Tracy's first leading lady and the wife of director William Seiter, died from complications two days after undergoing open heart surgery. She was 78.
A spokesman for the actress said Tuesday that she died Sunday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Cause of death was not disclosed.
She is survived by a son, Christopher Nixon Seiter, a TV producer; a daughter, Jessica Griffin; and five grandchildren. Another daughter, Selena, died in 1980. A funeral was planned Thursday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills.
The actress, born in Minnesota in October 1904, joined a traveling ballet troupe with her sister at age 14. In 1925 she quit as a dancer to try her skill in the movie business.
She made her motion picture debut in 1925 in the silent film 'Riders of the Purple Sage,' starring Tom Mix.
In 1926 she made 'What Happened to Jones,' directed by Seiter. She married him in 1934 -- following several films together including 'Rolling Home,' 'Out All Night,' 'Chance at Heaven' and 'We're Rich Again' -- and the following year left show business to raise a family.
Miss Nixon played opposite Tracy in 'Face in the Sky,' his first leading role in 1933, and performed with several other young actors of the era including Al Jolson, James Cagney and Joel McCrea.
She also had the title role in the 1932 version of 'Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.' Her other films included 'Devil's Island,' 'Show of Shows,' 'Charlie Chan's Chance,' 'Winner Takes All' and 'Walking Down Broadway.'
Seiter, who directed several Shirley Temple movies and TV series including 'Oh Susannah,' died in 1964. In 1971, she married actor Ben Lyon, who died in 1979.