Saturday, January 04, 2014

Notable Passings

...It has been announced this week that actress Barbara Lawrence passed away last November 13th.

She was 83.

As I wrote in a review of THE STREET WITH NO NAME (1948), Lawrence was "an interesting actress who should have had a bigger career."

Lawrence's film and TV career ran from 1945-62, including a number of films for 20th Century-Fox; she was always a colorful and interesting addition to a film, regardless of the size of her role.

Lawrence's films included MARGIE (1946), in which she played Marybelle, Jeanne Crain's neighbor; YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME (1948), where she again played a friend of Crain's; Preston Sturges' UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948) in which she had a very nice role as Rudy Vallee's wife; MOTHER IS A FRESHMAN (1949), in which she's the roommate of Loretta Young's daughter, played by Betty Lynn; A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949), reuniting her with her UNFAITHFULLY YOURS costar, Linda Darnell; and MAN WITH THE GUN (1955) in which she was a dance hall girl.

One of Lawrence's most notable roles, mentioned in her obituaries, was the small but flashy part of giggling Gertie Cummings in OKLAHOMA! (1955).

...Alicia Rhett, whose sole film credit was GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), has passed away at the age of 98.

Rhett, who was born in Georgia and later lived in South Carolina, had a small but memorable role as India Wilkes, the sister of Ashley (Leslie Howard).

Rhett was the oldest surviving cast member of the film. 97-year-old Olivia de Havilland, whose sister Joan Fontaine just passed away three weeks ago, is now the film's oldest surviving cast member.

Other remaining cast members include Mary Anderson (Maybelle Merriwether), who is also the widow of Oscar-winning cinematographer Leon Shamroy, and Mickey Kuhn (Beau Wilkes).


Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Mention should also be made of the passing of Juanita Moore (1914-2014), who died January 1 at the age of 99.

The talented Moore did not have all the opportunities she might have as there were not so many good roles for black actresses in her era, but she made the most of her one great chance in IMITATION OF LIFE (1959, Douglas Sirk), one of the all-time great melodramas. If it had been up to me, Moore would have won the Oscar for this--for Best Actress, and not Supporting Actress for which she was nominated--her role was a lead, objectively a co-lead with top-billed Lana Turner, a big star, and her story with her daughter (played by Susan Kohner) was the more compelling, as it was intended to be, while Moore was the heart of the movie throughout.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much for contributing that remembrance of Juanita Moore, Blake, that one got past me over the holiday. Here is Moore's obituary from the Los Angeles Times.

IMITATION OF LIFE is on my "to watch" shelf. I'll look forward to seeing it even more now thanks to your thoughts on it. I have really enjoyed the Sirk films I have seen to date.

Best wishes,

12:13 PM  
Blogger Aubyn said...

Thank you for the Barbara Lawrence tribute, Laura. I remember her fondly from A Letter to Three Wives and Unfaithfully Yours, where her eye-rolling reactions are pure delight. She had a great comedic instinct. I agree that she should have had a bigger career.

2:15 PM  
Blogger James Corry said...

Laura, you didn't mention Barbara Lawrence's BEST role! That of "Vera" (girlfriend of granite-jawed scientist Jeff Morrow)in 1957's RegalScope production "Kronos".....a cult sci-fi film and actually quite good.....


4:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Aubyn, thanks for your comments. I think her part in UNFAITHFULLY YOURS was one of her best. Always puzzled her career didn't grow from there.

Brad, love your recommendation of that title! Lawrence truly had a diverse career. I think you may have mentioned that movie to me when I saw Morrow in COPPER SKY.

Best wishes,

9:30 PM  

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