PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Andrea Leeds Howard, a wholesome leading lady of a half dozen 1930s films including 'Swanee River' and 'Stage Door,' has died of cancer. She was 69.
Mrs. Howard died Monday at Desert Hospital.
Mrs. Howard was best known for her starring role with Al Jolson in 'Swanee River' and was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 'Stage Door.'
Mrs. Howard, whose real name was Antoinette M. Lees, was discovered while a student at UCLA by director Howard Hawkes and made her film debut in the 1936 movie, 'Come and Get It.'
She also appeared in 'It Could Happen to You,' 'The Goldwyn Follies,' 'Letter of Introduction,' 'Youth Takes a Fling,' 'They Shall Have Music,' 'The Real Glory' and 'Earthbound.'
The Goldwyn studios later dubbed her the 'Kiss Champion of Hollywood,' and staged her in three-hour kissing tests with leading men hopefuls.
In 1939, she married millionaire sportsman Robert Howard, the son of Charles Howard, who owned the fabled race horse Seabiscuit, and retired from film making.
Mrs. Howard also owned race horses and was at the Santa Anita meeting when she was taken ill last month. She had been in critical condition at Desert Hospital since May 17.
Mrs. Howard's late husband bought the Howard Manor hotel, a Palm Springs landmark, in the late 1940s and she operated a jewelry salon there that she still owned at the time of her death.
Mrs. Howard is survived by her son, Robert Howard Jr. of Palm Springs. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.