Turning Back the Pages: Owens, The Fly actor, formerly from Golden

By Colleen Palumbo

I started working at the Golden Museum in 1990 and shortly thereafter while going through the Golden Star looking for something completely different I came across the following article dated October 2, 1958.

Former Golden Girl Wed to “The Fly”. Latest film for British Columbia born Patricia Owens is a spine-chilling science fiction shocker called “The Fly,” in which she plays the wife of a scientist whose experiment goes haywire and leaves him with the giant head of a fly.

Patricia was born in Golden, BC., lived in Toronto for some years, later moved to England with her parents. She was active in stage and film work in the UK before she came to Hollywood two years ago. “The Fly” – for 20th Century Fox is her fourth Hollywood movie.

In “The Fly,” Andre (Al Hedison) is a young scientist. Aided by his wife, Helene, he enters a “transfer booth” for his experiment in the transfer of matter, unaware a small fly is in the booth with him. He emerges with the horrifying head of a fly, instructs his wife (with type-written messages – he can’t speak –to search for a fly with a human head. Time is short – his powers of reasoning are dwindling quickly, Without the fly he is doomed. From start to shocking finish, the film is a suspense masterpiece.

The foregoing extract from the Toronto Star Weekly describes briefly the movie that is proving to be such a hit across the continent. One of the top “thrillers” which are enjoying current popularity rivalling that held by westerns recently. “The Fly” will be presented in the Yoho Theatre at Golden on Monday and Tuesday, Oct 6th and 7th.

I tucked the article away hoping that some time I would have the opportunity to look into it further. Eventually I even wrote a column about Patricia Owens. She has always been a bit of a mystery even though she was a Hollywood Star, because information about her personal life has hard to find. Even though I knew she was born in Golden, BC I couldn’t find the name of her parents. I looked up her birth in the Golden Hospital patient files and all I found was that Mrs. A. Owens was admitted to the hospital on January 16, 1925 and that she had a baby the following day – a daughter. They were released from the hospital on January 26, 1925 and then I lost track of her.

Most people leave some kind of trace when they live in a small community. They were involved in church groups, belonged to benevolent organizations or were simply recognized for the job that they did. For instance we have a list of each and every postmaster since Golden was granted a post office. I couldn’t find any information on Mr. and Mrs. A. Owens despite the fact that they probably lived as many as 8 years in Golden.

As it turns out a book has just been released about Arthur Owens. Written by Nigel West and Madoc Roberts, Snow: The Double Life of a World War II Spy chronicles the life of Arthur Graham Owens, one of the most significant British Spies of the Second World War.

Owens was a double agent, and was part of possibly the most successful counter-espionage operation ever undertaken. Owen’s code name was Snow and the material used for the book has come from recently unclassified files.

After reading the various articles about him online I know that I have to go buy the book and I think I understand why it was so hard to find information about the life of Patricia Owens. If it were revealed early in her career that her father was a spy, it would have been very difficult for her to get acting jobs.

Patricia Owens died in Lancaster, California, August 31, 2000. Her father is in an unmarked grave in Ireland where he died in 1957.

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