I was greatly saddened to learn late last night of the passing of actress Audrey Totter, just a week before her 96th birthday.
The world of classic film has lost two great ladies this week, with Totter's death coming just days after the passing of Eleanor Parker. Both actresses were great favorites of mine.
Audrey Totter was a unique actress particularly skilled at playing elegant yet off-kilter femme fatales. I'm sure her many fans would all agree with me that she made any film in which she appeared more interesting.
Below is a tribute I wrote on the occasion of Audrey Totter's birthday last year.
Thursday, December 20th, is the birthday of the great Audrey Totter.
Although IMDb says Miss Totter was born in 1918, her granddaughter Tweeted earlier this week that "Thursday will be the big 9-5!"
Audrey Totter is particularly beloved by fans of film noir, who probably all agree that when she was good, she was very good, and when she was bad, she was even better!
One of my favorite Totter performances is as Richard Basehart's unfaithful wife in TENSION (1949). It's hard to forget images of her as a provocative, impatient blonde sitting at a pharmacy counter, looking for a way out from suburbia and boredom.
She's also particularly remembered for her role in Robert Montgomery's groundbreaking LADY IN THE LAKE (1947), where she had to play directly to the camera, which served as Montgomery's eyes, rather than to him onscreen. It was a tough role, and she carried it off in style.
Outside of film noir, her somewhat unusual, relatively little-known Western MAN OR GUN (1958), costarring Macdonald Carey and James Craig, was one of my favorite discoveries this year. It's a thoughtfully made, different film which deserves to be more widely seen.
Among Totter's highly regarded films which I still look forward to seeing for the first time are THE UNSUSPECTED (1947), ALIAS NICK BEAL (1949), and THE SET-UP (1949).
I've previously linked to an interview Totter gave in 2000, and it's worth posting it again on her birthday. (2016 Update: Thanks to reader Ana for letting me know this interview link no longer works; I've searched and been unable to find a current link for the interview.) She shares anecdotes about Ray Milland, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable, and Claude Rains, among others.
Totter had a wonderful career but she also seems to have maintained a healthy, level-headed perspective. She was happily married to a doctor from 1953 until his passing in 1995.
Happiest birthday wishes to a wonderful lady!
Audrey Totter films previously reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: THE SAILOR TAKES A WIFE (1945), LADY IN THE LAKE (1947), THE BEGINNING OR THE END (1947), HIGH WALL (1947), THE SAXON CHARM (1948), TENSION (1949), FBI GIRL (1951), ASSIGNMENT - PARIS (1952), and MAN OR GUN (1958).
2013 Update: Reviews of THE UNSUSPECTED (1947), MAN IN THE DARK (1953), and THE SELLOUT (1952).
December 13, 2013: I'm so saddened by the news that Audrey Totter has passed on, a week before her 96th birthday. A truly remarkable lady.