Back to prior page

(From Old Corral image collection)
Sheila Ryan

Real name:

Katherine Elizabeth McLaughlin

1921 - 1975

Born in Topeka, Kansas, pretty Sheila Ryan became a contract player at 20th Century Fox in the 1940s, and she had roles in various pictures at the studio including a Cesar Romero/Cisco Kid western, Charlie Chan and Michael Shayne mysteries, and a couple of the Laurel & Hardy escapades.

Her best work - and biggest role - during this period occurred in THE GANG'S ALL HERE (20th Century Fox, 1943). That film starred Alice Faye and is a fun Busby Berkely musical in full Technicolor glory. The male love interest for Faye and Ryan is James Ellison (of Hopalong Cassidy films). You can also catch a glimpse of Sheila Ryan in the 1941 SUN VALLEY SERENADE. Starring ice skater Sonja Henie and John Payne, this film is generally remembered more as a showcase for Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. Keep on eye out for "pretty ladies doing bit parts" and you will see Sheila as well as Lynne Roberts as both were under contract to 20th Century Fox at the time. Hint: office receptionist and telephone operator.

The WAMPAS Baby Stars, a yearly selection of 13 promising starlets, was conducted by The Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers from the early 1920s through the mid 1930s. Sheila was a "Baby Star" but not during the WAMPAS sponsorship. In 1940, the Motion Picture Publicists Association selected 13 "Baby Stars": Ella Bryan, Lucia Carroll, Peggy Diggins, Lorraine Elliott, Jayne Hazard, Joan Leslie, Kay Leslie, Gay Parkes, Lois Ranson, Marilyn [Lynn] Merrick, Patricia Van Cleve, Tanya Widrin ... and Sheila Ryan.

By the mid 1940s, Ryan had been dropped by 20th Century Fox and most of her subsequent roles were in B productions, generally of the mystery or potboiler type. For example, she had a meaty role in JUNGLE MANHUNT (Columbia, 1951), one of the 'Jungle Jim' adventures starring former Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller.

Somehow she connected with Gene Autry in the late 1940s. At that time, Autry was producing his own films and releasing them through Columbia Pictures, and Ryan appeared in four: THE COWBOYS AND THE INDIANS (Columbia, 1949), MULE TRAIN (Columbia, 1950), ON TOP OF OLD SMOKY (Columbia, 1953), and PACK TRAIN (Columbia, 1953). She also had roles in many of Autry's television shows.

While working on the Autry oaters, Ryan met and fell in love with Gene's comedic trail pardner Pat Buttram. Sheila and Pat were married in in late 1951, a pairing that would last until her death in 1975. The Buttrams were proud parents of a daughter named Katherine.

Prior to her successful marriage to Buttram, she married Allan 'Rocky' Lane in Las Vegas on October 5, 1945, but that ended in a separation and divorce in early 1946 after only a few months of marriage. Later, she was married and divorced from actor Edward Norris.

Ill for several years with a lung ailment, 54 year old Sheila Ryan Buttram passed away on November 4, 1975 at the Motion Picture Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Sheila Ryan:

The Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen website includes timelines and more details on Sheila Ryan's film and personal life:

(From Old Corral image collection)

Sheila Ryan and star Alan Curtis in a lobby card from PHILO VANCE'S SECRET MISSION (PRC, 1947).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Vince Barnett, Sheila Ryan, Gene Autry and Pat Buttram in MULE TRAIN (Columbia, 1950). Interesting twist in both the plot and casting - Sheila is the local law officer as well as the brains heavy/gang leader in cahoots with Bob Livingston. She portrayed another no-good in Autry's PACK TRAIN (Columbia, 1953), which featured Kenne Duncan and Sheila as greedy storekeepers peddling supplies at inflated prices to the local settlers.

Back to prior page