A Short Bio
The Author












































































































































The first time that I laid eyes upon  Helen Mack, I was captivated! Her demeanor was calm and cool. Her eyes were inviting....her face unforgettable. She exhibited a look of sophistication and charm, yet looked ever so slightly out of place. All of this begged the question - "Who is (or was) this lady that stared at me from the beat up framed picture tucked away on a wall surrounded by images of Hollywood greats?" This question had lodged itself in my consciousness for over ten years, unanswered....until now.

I've just begun to explore the world and life that Helen Mack belonged to. The first significant discovery of information about Helen was like the moment when the great archeologist Howard Carter first peered  into King Tut's tomb, and his benefactor 'Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, "Can you see anything?" It was all I could do to get out the words, "Yes, wonderful things."'   - the journals of Howard Carter

Back to top

Helen Mack
Nov. 13, 1913 - Aug. 13, 1986


web statistics
   since 9/20/03

Updated: 11/30/2014

Contact Author

Best viewed on 1024 x 768

To properly view the site, as designed, please us Internet Explorer ver 5.5 or higher 


Everybody Has To Be Somebody

Click image to download the Gaslight Font needed to properly view this site








































































The picture that started it all!

Welcome to the only website on the internet (that I know of) that is solely dedicated to preserving the memory and works of actress Helen Mack. Helen was much more than an actress. So much more...

Helen Mack is one of the earliest examples of pioneering women who were successful in the entertainment industry, first as a performer and then orchestrating behind the scenes. Helen started her career as a child actress in silent films, moving on to Broadway plays, and touring the vaudeville circuit. Later success (as an actress) was as a leading lady in the 1930's and early '40's. Eventually Helen transitioned into performing on radio, and then into writing, directing, and producing some of the best known radio shows during the Golden Age of Radio. Later in life Helen billed herself as a professional writer, writing for Broadway, stage, and television. Helen's career spanned the infancy of the motion picture industry, the beginnings of Broadway, the final days of Vaudeville, the transition to "talkies", the Golden Age of Radio, and the rise of television. Helen blazed a path years ahead of her time, and laid the groundwork for many other women to follow.

My goal, when I started this project, was to learn more about this mysterious lady, who seems to have gone unnoticed since the late 1930's. This project has turned into a crusade to uncover and publish the life and times of a beautiful lady everyone seems to have forgotten.

My work is not complete - far from it. But, along the way I have uncovered many interesting facts and facets regarding this wonderful person. It is my hope to be able to create THE comprehensive source on Helen Mack. I welcome any inquiries, help, suggestions, and information. I will not leave any stone unturned until I have completed her history, from A to Z.

Back to top

A Short Bio
Helen McAvity (married name) was the daughter of William and Regina McDougall. They enrolled Helen in the Professional Children's School in New York City in 1921, where Helen went to school while she performed in silent movies, vaudeville, and Broadway plays as a child performer. It was during this time that she acquired her stage name - Helen Mack.

From 1931 to 1945, Helen Mack performed in 38 films, mostly as a leading actress. Her best known films are probably "Son of Kong" and "She".

In 1940 she married Thomas McAvity, a radio show producer who went on to become Vice President of Television Network for NBC. During the late 1930's and early 1940's Helen acted in radio shows, but eventually changed careers and moved into producing and directing radio shows.

In the 1960's and early '70's Helen wrote several Broadway plays and screenplays for popular television shows like "Daniel Boone" and "Julia".

Helen died in Beverly Hills, California in 1986.

Back to top

About The Author
Daryl Curtis is a Petroleum Engineer, living and working in Bakersfield, California. He became interested in Helen Mack in 1990, when he purchased an autographed photo of Helen from a curiosity shop in Ventura, California. Daryl is married and has six cats, one dog, a few fish, is a lifelong Star Trek fan, has a passion for NASCAR racing, and devotes a lot of time and energy to supporting the local children's shelter in Bakersfield.

Back to top


In March 1990 I had to go to Ventura for a business conference. Having never been to Ventura, I welcomed the opportunity to explore a new place. I had only been living in California since June of 1989, so my opportunities for travel had been limited.

During the lunch break I decided to go downtown and see what was on Main Street. I'm really a sucker for unusual shops, since you never know what treasures you might find. On this day I would not be disappointed.

I wandered into a shop, which was hidden in the back of an old building that was converted into a sort of mall. You had to walk through a dark open-air walkway, and the store was near the back  on the right. The name was the most unusual, and I believe I will never forget it - "Edie's New Age Treasure Room."

The store was crowded with merchandise, and there was incense burning. It was a new age store, overflowing with crystals, incense, and mystical healing books. The owner, whom I took to be Edie Gullon, was a nice and friendly lady who liked to carry on conversations with her customers. Her husband was her sidekick. It was obvious that the store was hers, and he just hung out there. We struck up a conversation and talked about Bakersfield and the terrible fog and heat. All the while Edie was busy with other customers. 

Just so you know, I am not into new age thing. Why I dropped in was more out of curiosity than anything. But one thing did catch my attention. Hung on the walls and all around the shop were magnificent pictures of movie star greats from the 1930's and '40's. I distinctly remember Clarke Gable, Carole Lombard, and others. I thought that this was odd, considering the nature of the shop. Edie noticed my fascination and explained that she had bought the collection of photographs from a lady (Nina) who worked at the MGM commissary for many years. She made it a habit to collect autographed photos from all the stars that visited the commissary. 

I have always been interested in movie history and owning an autographed photo from someone famous. As I looked at the prices I quickly realized that I would not be able to afford anything. But then a photo caught my attention. It was of an actress, dressed in a very elegant dress, posing for the studio photographer. The mood captured by the photographer was typical of the early '30's, and the actress was stunning. Best of all, the price was right - $25. On top of that, it was personalized and autographed by the actress - none other than Helen Mack. I was so enthused to find a piece of Hollywood history that I could afford that I quickly snatched it up and took my prize home with me.

Back to top

After I got home I examined the photo closer. The photo was framed in a cheap, plastic blue frame. The inscription on the photograph read 

For Nina

With so darn many thanks for your kindness to

 Helen Mack

The photographer's name was in the lower left corner - FPowolny. I didn't really know who the photographer was. I really didn't know who Helen Mack was. I decided to go to the library and see what I could find.

I wasn't disappointed. I was able to find two reference books that gave a snippet about Helen. The first was complimentary of her and provided a listing of her work. It read:

"MACK, Helen (H. McDougall) 1913 -

Personable, attractive, dark-haired American leading actress, in a couple of films when ten, and vaudeville at 13. Started her adult career in earnest at 18, keeping fairly busy through the thirties, her best-remembered film from which period is "Son of Kong". Later became a successful radio producer and writer.

The second reads:


Helen Mack was one of movies' best criers. She sobbed up a storm in the first picture in which we remember her, "Sweepings", and by the end of the thirties she was playing one of the best hysterical roles - the streetwalker, Mollie Malloy, in Howard Hawks' "His Girl Friday." And playing it very capably, too.

In between, she had all kinds of leading lady roles, serving in that capacity opposite all manner of leading men - Lee Tracy, George Raft, Harold Lloyd, Joe E. Brown and Cary Grant. But even in the comedies, you usually got to see those pretty dark eyes well up and that pointed chin begin to quiver.

Back to top




Copyright 2003. All information and material on this website is the property of Daryl Curtis. Use of this material may not be used without the permission of the owner.