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Gloria Grahame

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gloria Grahame
Grahame in the 1940s
Gloria Grahame Hallward

(1923-11-28)November 28, 1923
DiedOctober 5, 1981(1981-10-05) (aged 57)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeOakwood Memorial Park Cemetery
EducationHollywood High School
Years active1944–1981
Known forOklahoma!
It's a Wonderful Life
The Bad and the Beautiful
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1945; div. 1948)
(m. 1948; div. 1952)
(m. 1954; div. 1957)
(m. 1960; div. 1974)

Gloria Grahame Hallward (November 28, 1923 – October 5, 1981) was an American actress. She began her acting career in theatre, and in 1944 made her first film for MGM.

Despite a featured role in It's a Wonderful Life (1946), MGM did not believe she had the potential for major success, and sold her contract to RKO. Often cast in film noir projects, Grahame was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947), and later won the award for her work in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). After starring opposite Humphrey Bogart in In a Lonely Place (1950), she achieved her highest profile with Sudden Fear (1952), The Big Heat (1953), Human Desire (1954), and Oklahoma! (1955), but her film career began to wane soon afterwards.

Grahame returned to work on the stage, but continued to appear in films and television productions, usually in supporting roles.

In 1974, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It went into remission less than a year later and Grahame returned to work. In 1980, the cancer returned, but Grahame refused to accept the diagnosis or seek treatment. Choosing instead to continue working, she traveled to the United Kingdom to appear in a play. Her health, however, declined rapidly. She returned to New York City, where she died in October 1981, aged 57.

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Early life

Grahame was born in Los Angeles.[1] She was raised a Methodist.[2] Her English father, Reginald Michael Bloxam Hallward (known as Michael Hallward) was an architect and author; her Scottish mother, Jeanne McDougall, who used the stage name Jean Grahame, was a British stage actress and acting teacher.[3] The couple had an elder daughter, Joy Hallward, an actress who married John Mitchum (the younger brother of actor Robert Mitchum). During Gloria's childhood and adolescence, her mother taught her acting. Grahame attended Hollywood High School before dropping out to pursue acting.[1]


An early stage appearance was in the long-running farce Good Night, Ladies at Chicago's Blackstone Theatre, starring Buddy Ebsen, which opened on April 12, 1942.[4]

Grahame with Philip Reed in Song of the Thin Man, 1947

Grahame made her Broadway debut on December 6, 1943 at the Royale Theatre as Florrie in Nunnally Johnson's The World's Full of Girls, which was adapted from Thomas Bell's 1943 novel Till I Come Back to You.[5] She was signed to a contract with MGM Studios under her professional name after Louis B. Mayer saw her performance.

Another Broadway role was in April-May 1944's Highland Fling.[6]

Grahame made her film debut in Blonde Fever (1944) and then achieved one of her most widely praised roles as the flirtatious Violet Bick, saved from disgrace by George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). MGM was not able to develop her potential as a star, and her contract was sold to RKO Studios in 1947.

She was often featured in film noir pictures as a tarnished beauty with an irresistible sexual allure. During this time, she made films for several Hollywood studios. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947).[7]

Grahame starred with Humphrey Bogart in the film In a Lonely Place (1950) for Columbia Pictures, a performance for which she gained praise. Though today it is considered among her finest performances, it was not a box-office hit, and Howard Hughes, owner of RKO, admitted that he never saw it. When she asked to be lent out for roles in Born Yesterday (also 1950) and A Place in the Sun (1951), Hughes refused and instead made her perform a supporting role in Macao (1952).

in her Academy Award-winning role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

Despite appearing for only a little over nine minutes on screen, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in MGM's The Bad and the Beautiful (also 1952);[8][9] she long held the record for the shortest performance on screen to win an acting Oscar until Beatrice Straight won for Network (1976) with a five-minute performance.

Her other memorable roles included the scheming Irene Neves in Sudden Fear (also 1952); mob moll Debby Marsh in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953) in which, in a horrifying off-screen scene, she is scarred by hot coffee thrown in her face by Lee Marvin's character; and the femme fatale Vicki Buckley in Fritz Lang's Human Desire (1954). Grahame appeared as wealthy seductress Harriet Lang in Stanley Kramer's Not as a Stranger (1955) starring Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, and Frank Sinatra. Grahame also did her own stunts as Angel the Elephant Girl in Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth, which won the Oscar for best film of 1952.[10]

Grahame's career began to wane after her performance in the musical film Oklahoma! (1955). She, whom audiences were used to seeing as a film noir siren, was viewed by some critics to be miscast as an ignorant country lass in a wholesome musical, and the paralysis of her upper lip from plastic surgery altered her speech and appearance. Additionally, she was rumored to have been difficult on the set of Oklahoma!, upstaging some of the cast and alienating her co-stars.[11] She began a slow return to the theatre, returning to films occasionally to play supporting roles, mostly in minor releases.

Grahame in 1947

She also guest-starred in television series, including the science-fiction series The Outer Limits. In the 1964 episode of that series titled "The Guests", Grahame plays a forgotten film star living in the past. She also appears in an episode of The Fugitive ("The Homecoming", 1964) and an episode of Burke's Law ("Who Killed The Rabbit's Husband", 1965). Grahame can be seen also in a 1970 episode of Mannix titled “Duet for Three” (Season 4 Episode 13) and in small roles in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Seventh Avenue.

The play The Time of Your Life was revived on March 17, 1972, at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles with Grahame, Henry Fonda, Richard Dreyfuss, Lewis J. Stadlen, Ron Thompson, Jane Alexander, Richard X. Slattery, and Pepper Martin among the cast, and Edwin Sherin directing.[12]

Personal life

Over time, Grahame became increasingly concerned with her physical appearance; she particularly felt her upper lip was too thin and had ridges that were too deep. She began stuffing cotton or tissues under it, which she felt gave her a sexier look. Several co-stars discovered this during kissing scenes.[13] In the mid-1940s, Grahame began undergoing small cosmetic procedures on her lips and face. According to her niece, Vicky Mitchum, Grahame's obsession with vanity led her to undergo more cosmetic procedures that rendered her upper lip immobile because of nerve damage. Mitchum said, "Over the years, she [Grahame] carved herself up, trying to make herself into an image of beauty she felt should exist but didn't. Others saw her as a beautiful person, but she never did, and crazy things spread from that."[14]

Grahame was a Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign in the 1952 presidential election.[15]

Relationships, marriages, and children

Grahame was married four times and had four children. Her first marriage was to actor Stanley Clements in August 1945. They divorced in June 1948.[16] The day after her divorce from Clements was made final, Grahame married director Nicholas Ray. They had a son, Timothy, in November 1948. After several separations and reconciliations, Grahame and Ray divorced in 1952.[17] Grahame's third marriage was to writer and television producer Cy Howard. They married in August 1954 and had a daughter, Marianna Paulette in 1956.[18][19] Grahame filed for divorce from Howard in May 1957, citing mental cruelty.[18] Their divorce became final in November 1957.[19]

Grahame's fourth and final marriage was to actor Anthony "Tony" Ray (b. 1937), the son of her second husband Nicholas Ray and his first wife Jean Evans, and Grahame’s former stepson. According to Nicholas Ray, he allegedly caught Grahame and a 13 year-old Tony in bed together, which effectively ended their marriage in 1950.[20][21] However, Grahame's former partner and biographer, Peter Turner, has disputed this, saying that the story of Tony being underage when Grahame began her sexual relationship with him is "fiction".[22] Grahame and Anthony Ray began dating in 1958 and married in Tijuana, Mexico, in May 1960. The couple went on to have two children: Anthony, Jr. (born 1963) and James (born 1965).[23]

News of the marriage was kept private until 1962, when it was written about in the tabloids and the ensuing scandal damaged Grahame's reputation and affected her career. After learning of her marriage to Anthony Ray, Grahame's third husband, Cy Howard, attempted to gain sole custody of the couple's daughter, Marianna. Howard claimed Grahame was an unfit mother, and the two fought over custody of Marianna for years. The stress of the scandal, her waning career, and her custody battle with Howard took its toll on Grahame and she had a nervous breakdown. She later underwent electroconvulsive therapy in 1964.[24] Despite the surrounding scandal, Grahame's marriage to Anthony Ray was the only one of four to last beyond four years, ending a few days short of their 14th anniversary in May 1974.[24]

From 1979 to 1981, Grahame had a relationship with British actor Peter Turner. Turner authored a book about his time with Grahame called Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, which was later turned into a movie of the same name.[citation needed]

According to Glenn Ford’s son Peter, Grahame had an affair with Ford during the filming of Human Desire in 1954.[25]


In March 1974, Grahame was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent radiation treatment, changed her diet, stopped smoking and drinking alcohol, and also sought homeopathic remedies. In less than a year, the cancer went into remission.[26] It returned in 1980.[citation needed]

In the autumn of 1981, while performing at The Dukes in Lancaster, England, Grahame fell ill.[27] She told her former lover, actor Peter Turner, and asked him not to contact doctors or her family. He did anyway. According to his book Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, his local family doctor told Grahame that she had a cancerous tumor in her abdomen "the size of a football". Breast cancer is not mentioned in the book.[28]

Turner informed Grahame's children of her illness, who then brought her back to the US against her wishes and those of her doctor and Turner. She was immediately admitted on October 5, 1981, to St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, where she died a few hours later at the age of 57.[29]

Grahame's remains were interred at Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, Los Angeles.[30]


For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Gloria Grahame has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6522 Hollywood Boulevard.[31]

The motion picture Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, based on Peter Turner's account of the final years of Grahame's life, was released in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2017, and in the United States on December 29, 2017. In the film, Grahame is portrayed by Annette Bening.[28]

Grahame had kept an apartment at the Manhattan Plaza residential complex, and its community room, where her portrait hangs, is dedicated to her.[32]


Year Title Role Notes
1944 Blonde Fever Sally Murfin Alternative title: Autumn Fever
1945 Without Love Flower girl
1946 It's a Wonderful Life Violet Bick
1947 It Happened in Brooklyn Nurse
Crossfire Ginny Tremaine Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Song of the Thin Man Fran Ledue Page
Merton of the Movies Beulah Baxter
1949 A Woman's Secret Susan Caldwell aka Estrellita
Roughshod Mary Wells
1950 In a Lonely Place Laurel Gray
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth Angel
Macao Margie
Sudden Fear Irene Neves
The Bad and the Beautiful Rosemary Bartlow Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1953 The Glass Wall Maggie Summers
Man on a Tightrope Zama Cernik
The Big Heat Debby Marsh
Prisoners of the Casbah Princess Nadja aka Yasmin
1954 The Good Die Young Denise Blaine
Human Desire Vicki Buckley
Naked Alibi Marianna
1955 The Cobweb Karen McIver
Not as a Stranger Harriet Lang
Oklahoma! Ado Annie Carnes
1956 The Man Who Never Was Lucy Sherwood
1957 Ride Out for Revenge Amy Porter
1959 Odds Against Tomorrow Helen
1966 Ride Beyond Vengeance Bonnie Shelley
1971 Blood and Lace Mrs. Deere
The Todd Killings Mrs. Roy
Black Noon Bethia
Chandler Selma Alternative title: Open Shadow
1972 The Loners Annabelle
1973 The Magician Natalie Alternative title: Tarot
1974 Mama's Dirty Girls Mama Love
1976 Mansion of the Doomed Katherine Alternative title: The Terror of Dr. Chaney
1979 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square Ma Fox
Chilly Scenes of Winter Clara Alternative title: Head Over Heels
1980 Melvin and Howard Mrs. Sisk
1981 The Nesting Florinda Costello Alternative titles: Phobia and Massacre Mansion


  1. ^ a b "Flashback: Gloria Grahame". Beaver County Times. August 11, 1991. p. 7. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  2. ^ "About FUMC". First United Methodist Church, Eunice, Louisiana. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012.
  3. ^ "Actress Gloria Grahame dead of cancer at age 51". The Bulletin. Bend, Ore. United Press International. October 7, 1981. p. C–7. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  4. ^ "Notes of the Theater". Chicago Tribune. April 12, 1942. p. 8, Part 6. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  5. ^ B F. (December 18, 1943). "Legitimate: BROADWAY OPENINGS - THE ROYALE". Billboard. Vol. 55, no. 51. p. 27-28.
  6. ^ "Inside Playbill Gallery". Archived from the original on August 5, 2021.
  7. ^ "The 20th Academy Awards (1948): Actress In A Supporting Role". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  8. ^ "THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1953)". Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  9. ^ "The 25th Academy Awards (1953): Actress In A Supporting Role". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  10. ^ "The 25th Academy Awards (1953): Best Motion Picture". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  11. ^ Landazuri, Margarita. "Oklahoma! (1955)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  12. ^ Lane, Bill (April 8, 1972). "Hollywood Beat". The Afro-American. Baltimore. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  13. ^ (Lentz 2011, p. 175)
  14. ^ Hagen, Ray; Wagner, Laura (January 28, 2015). Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames. McFarland & Co. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7864-8073-9.
  15. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  16. ^ Parker, Vernon (July 16, 2004). "On This Day in History: July 16 – Just Right for Brooklyn Wiseguy Parts". Brooklyn Eagle.
  17. ^ (Curcio 1989, p. 101)
  18. ^ a b "Gloria Grahame Sues For Divorce". The Miami News. May 4, 1957. p. 6A. Retrieved June 26, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ a b "Gloria Grahame Divorces Producer". Florence Times. Associated Press. November 1, 1957. p. 17. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  20. ^ (Lentz 2011, p. 103)
  21. ^ Joey Nolfi (February 21, 2018). "How an Oscar and a sex scandal rattled Gloria Grahame's career Archived September 15, 2018, at the Wayback Machine". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  22. ^ Barbara Hoffman (January 1, 2018). "The tragic romance of a Hollywood star and her young leading man". New York Post. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  23. ^ (Lentz 2011, pp. 6–7)
  24. ^ a b (Lentz 2011, p. 7)
  25. ^ Ford, Peter (May 12, 2011). Glenn Ford: A Life. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-2992-8153-3.
  26. ^ (Lentz 2011, p. 247)
  27. ^ Walker, Natalie (November 21, 2017). "Gloria Grahame's final wish at The Dukes in Lancaster". Lancashire Evening Post. Archived from the original on May 2, 2019. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  28. ^ a b Boyce, Frank Cottrell (November 14, 2017). "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool: the tragic life of Hollywood sensation Gloria Grahame". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  29. ^ (Lentz 2011, p. 317)
  30. ^ Brooks, Patricia; Brooks, Jonathan (2006). Laid to Rest in California: A Guide to the Cemeteries and Grave Sites of the Rich and Famous. Globe Pequot. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-7627-4101-4. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  31. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Gloria Grahame". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  32. ^ King, Susan (December 23, 2017). "Classic Hollywood: Remembering Gloria Grahame before 'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 12, 2020.


Further reading

  • Peter Turner, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (New York: Grove Press, 1987)

External links

This page was last edited on 23 March 2024, at 17:49
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