Gloria Ella Saunders (September 29, 1927 - June 4, 1980) was an American actress of film and television, primarily from the late 1940s to 1960.
Saunders was born to George D. and Lucille P. Saunders in the capital city of Columbia, South Carolina. As a child she worked in radio and in the Little Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the age of sixteen in June 1944, she screen tested for Paramount Studios. In 1945, she was seriously injured in an automobile accident and suffered a facial cut from her forehead to the tip of her chin. By October 1951, numerous plastic surgeries finally resolved the scarring. Saunders first married the television director Arthur Rue "Tommy" Thompson (1927-2000), who was two months her junior. Saunders said that she likely would not have gone into television acting had it not been for her accident, and she would not have met Thompson had she not gone into television. The couple divorced in 1956, with a two-year-old child. She subsequently married a man named "Maier".
Her first important role was as Sparky, an operator in the Women's Army Corps of World War II in the 1946 film O.S.S., with Alan Ladd. In 1951, she played Terry Flynn in the film Crazy Over Horses. That same year, she was cast as Anne DuMere in the film, Northwest Territory, starring Kirby Grant, later the star of Sky King. In 1952, Saunders was cast as Catherine in the science fiction film, Captive Women. Saunders had recurring roles in two of the earliest television series. In 1949 and 1950, she was cast with Marvin Miller, later of CBS's fantasy drama, The Millionaire, in the ABC crime drama set in San Francisco, Mysteries of Chinatown. She appeared in undetermined number of episodes, possibly as many as forty-eight. In 1953, she played the character, The Dragon Lady, in thirteen episodes of the series Terry and the Pirates, with John Baer in the title role.
She was cast as Sally Jones in the 1951 episode "Boulder City Election" of the syndicated television series, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, with Guy Madison in the title role. From 1952 to 1953, she appeared in five episodes of another syndicated western series, The Range Rider. She appeared twice in 1952 on the syndicated western The Cisco Kid. From 1951 to 1953, she appeared three times in the early police drama, Racket Squad. In 1953, she was twice cast on Jack Webb's NBC police drama, Dragnet. In another 1953 role, she played Lily in "The Riddle of the Chinese Jade" on the syndicated series, Adventures of Superman.
In 1956, Saunders was cast as Christina in "The Voyage of Captain Castle" of the NBC western anthology series Frontier. That same year, she was cast as Gloria DiNeen in "What Price Gloria," of the syndicated State Trooper, starring Rod Cameron. In 1955 and 1957, she appeared in two episodes, "The Silk Stocking Case" and "The Ambitious Peddler Case", respectively, of the CBS police drama. The Lineup, starring Warner Anderson and Tom Tully. In 1957, she played Grace Patton in the episode "Angel of Loudoun" of the American Civil War series, The Gray Ghost, starring Tod Andrews as the Confederate Major John Singleton Mosby. That same year she played Virginia Malcolm in "The Torch Carriers" of David Janssen's Richard Diamond, Private Detective series, first broadcast on CBS.
In the episode "The Wicked Widow" (May 21, 1957) of the ABC/Desilu television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Saunders was cast as Myra Malone, an attractive widowed dressmaker. In the story line, deputy marshal Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, Kansas, played by Hugh O'Brian, investigates a series of mysterious shootings near Myra's house. He finds that she has been harboring Nettie Barnes (Lyn Guild), a wanted member of the Larson gang and a former Confederate who dislikes northern law. In 1957 and 1958, she was cast in two other western series, as Rose in "The Town" of the CBS series Trackdown, starring Robert Culp and in the segment "Iron Trail Ambush" of the syndicated Frontier Doctor, starring Rex Allen. Her last acting role was in 1960 as a mystery woman on the ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show.