Joan Winmill, an actress for World Wide Pictures in the 1950s lived an inspiring life. She went from being an actress in London who rejected the Lord, to a friend of Ruth Bell Graham starring in Christian film.
In 1954, Joan was rising to fame in London when her friend invited her to the Billy Graham Greater London Crusade at Harringay Arena. Reluctantly, she went with no intent of changing her lifestyle. But after Billy Graham spoke, she found herself walking forward during the invitation. “I just felt for the first time in my life like I really needed Jesus,” she said.
As Joan was at the front praying, Ruth Bell Graham counseled her and lead her to the Lord. “Then she asked if I would like to meet her husband,” Joan said. Not knowing who Ruth was, Joan agreed and met Billy Graham.
The next day, Ruth called Joan and invited her to have tea. She offered her wisdom and advice, and the two women kept in touch throughout the years.
Shortly after that Crusade, Joan left her home in London for a starring role in the World Wide Pictures feature film Souls in Conflict. It was through this film that Joan met Bill Brown, whose job was to drive her from city to city during the Souls in Conflict publicity tour. He would later become her husband and the president of World Wide Pictures.
World Wide Pictures was at one time the largest producer of religious films in the world, with translations into dozens of languages. It would be hard to measure the number of lives transformed by these inspiring films, including Souls in Conflict.
To learn more about World Wide Pictures, plan your visit to the Billy Graham Library to see the special display entitled, “Pioneering Christian Cinema.” Read fascinating stories from behind the scenes and see photos and memorabilia through the end of February.