Actress Elaine Riley, the widow of Richard "Chito" Martin, has died at the age of 98.
Riley, who was born January 15, 1917, died on December 7, 2015.
I learned of Riley's passing thanks to my friend Jerry's post on DIAL RED O (1955) as part of this weekend's Allied Artists Blogathon. At the time I reviewed the film myself earlier this month I was unaware of Riley's death.
Here she is smiling at Bill Elliott in DIAL RED O:
London's Daily Telegraph ran a nice obituary.
Riley appeared in small roles in numerous films which have been reviewed here, with a few representative examples being HIGHER AND HIGHER (1943), THE FALCON AND THE CO-EDS (1943), and THE BIG CLOCK (1948).
As time went on she won some larger roles, appearing as the leading lady in several Hopalong Cassidy Westerns such as THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND (1946), FALSE PARADISE (1948), SINISTER JOURNEY (1948), and STRANGE GAMBLE (1948).
She also starred in RIDER FROM TUCSON (1950) with Tim Holt and her husband, Richard Martin, and in THE HILLS OF UTAH (1951) with Gene Autry. Here she is with Holt in RIDER FROM TUCSON:
She guest starred on numerous TV series throughout the '50s, including multiple episodes of the Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry TV shows. She retired from acting after appearing on an episode of Rod Cameron's series CORONADO 9 in 1960.
Riley had a very long, happy marriage to Martin, best known as Tim Holt's genial sidekick in the series of RKO Westerns beloved by many. Here she is with both Holt and Martin in another shot from RIDER FROM TUCSON:
As I related in a tribute to Martin, Riley described meeting her husband to Western historian Boyd Magers: "But certainly one of the most exciting things that happened to me was the first day I was on the set at RKO when I saw Richard Martin come through a door. That's the most exciting thing that ever happened to me...About ten minutes later, over my right shoulder, I heard this voice...and there he stood. I thought, of all these people, why is this happening?"
A few months later they got to know one another on location in Carmel. They were married from 1946 until his passing in 1994, living for much of that time on Balboa Island here in Orange County, California.
For more background on Elaine Riley, an article by the East Liverpool Historical Society from her hometown in Ohio is of interest; the Society has posted more photos and news articles on her here.