Actress Joan Weldon, best known for appearing in the 1954 cult classic sci-fi movie Them!, has passed away at the age of 90. Weldon died at her home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday, February 11. Her family confirmed her passing in her official obituary which reads in part: “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....A vibrant and elegant lady, she will be dearly missed by all those who knew this wonderful and extraordinary woman."
Though Weldon is best known to film fans for her work on the big screen, she got her start in acting on the stage making her debut at the age of sixteen with the San Francisco Opera company (appearing as the youngest singer under contract according to her obituary). Across her stage career she appeared in a number of high-profile productions including The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, The Music Man, Kean, The Merry Widow, Desert Song, Oklahoma, and Carousel.
In the pictures though, Joan quickly had a hand in multiple movies, appearing in six Warner Bros. productions from 1953 to 1954 including The System; The Grace Moore Story; The Stranger Wore a Gun; The Command; Riding Shotgun; and Them!. In Them! Wheldon played the part of Dr. Patricia Medford, an ant-specialist who would come in handy since then entire film was about giant, radioactive ants terrorizing a small town.
One of countless movies made in the era following World War II that reflected on the power of atomic energy, resulting in a lot of giant monsters, Them! was notable for being one of the first in that subgenre and the first "giant bug" movie of the time. This trend would continue through the decade resulting in movies like 1955's Tarantula, The Deadly Mantis in 1957, and Earth vs. The Spider in 1958; but Them! was still first.
Weldon is survived by her husband of over 50 years, Dr. David L. Podell Jr.; her daughter, Melissa (Jack Weinand) of Paris, France; her grandchildren Sienna, Alexander, and Ella, and stepdaughter Claudia (Frank MacGruer) of Lenox. MA., and family Richard and Carolyn Harcourt, Nancy Bouton, Tara Kadium and Rick Sand.
We wish her family comfort during this tragic time and may she rest in peace. Donations in her name can be made to the Brick Church Women's Association.
(Cover Photo by Warner Bros./Getty Images)