Monday, June 09, 2014

Martha Hyer Dies at 89

There is sad news this evening, as the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Oscar-nominated actress Martha Hyer has passed away at 89.

Hyer was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for SOME CAME RUNNING (1958).

I first remember her from HOUSEBOAT (1958), in which she played widowed Cary Grant's elegant sister-in-law, who loves him but loses out to Sophia Loren.

Hyer spent the first few years of her career toiling in small roles, beginning with THE LOCKET (1946). She was something of a chameleon in her early movies, looking quite different from film to film, with changing hairstyles and hair colors.

One of her earliest roles was as Tim Holt's leading lady in THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947); she's seen here in a publicity still for the film. She would appear in more Holt Westerns and go on to star in a significant number of additional Westerns opposite leading men such as George Montgomery, Rory Calhoun, Phil Carey, Jock Mahoney, and Ben Johnson.

Hyer's career moved into high gear in the mid to late '50s, with roles including SABRINA (1954), BATTLE HYMN (1957), and SOME CAME RUNNING (1958). She left acting after a 1974 appearance on MCCLOUD.

Hyer, who was the widow of producer Hal B. Wallis, wrote her autobiography, FINDING MY WAY: A HOLLYWOOD MEMOIR, in 1990.

The Santa Fe New Mexican obituary by Western film historian Robert Nott is quite thorough. I'll update this post with additional links as they are published.

Update: Here are obituaries from The Hollywood Reporter and People. Update: An obituary has now been posted at the Los Angeles Times.

Martha Hyer films previously reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: THE LOCKET (1946), BORN TO KILL (1947), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), ROUGHSHOD (1949), THE CLAY PIGEON (1949), THE LAWLESS (1950), RIDERS TO THE STARS (1954), BATTLE OF ROGUE RIVER (1954), DOWN THREE DARK STREETS (1954), WYOMING RENEGADES (1954), SABRINA (1954), and SOME CAME RUNNING (1958).

Update: Here are reviews of WILD STALLION (1952) (also here), SHOWDOWN AT ABILENE (1956) and BATTLE HYMN (1957).

Other well-known Hyer films include SO BIG (1953), RED SUNDOWN (1956), MY MAN GODFREY (1957), THE BEST OF EVERYTHING (1959), ICE PALACE (1960), BIKINI BEACH (1964), and THE SONS OF THE KATIE ELDER (1965).


Blogger Tom said...

RIP Martha Hyer.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

She means a lot to me, And I must acknowledge that this is a rare case where it is her signature movie SOME CAME RUNNING in which she most impressed me. it is one of my favorite movies, and she is indelible in her role..

But her many excellent Westerns and movies in other genres also count for a lot and from the quotations in the Santa Fe piece I think she undervalued some of those and that the writer of the piece was too quick to just accept that dismissive view of them--I couldn't help wondering if he ever saw RED SUNDOWN, for example, a beautiful and mature Western and one of so many excellent movies she is. The Martin and Lewis movie she is in ARTISTS AND MODELS, directed by the great Frank Tashlin, is the comedy team's best film and arguably one of the more brilliant movies of its time.

So though it may have been thorough, it was a little unsatisfying. I'm not complaining. It was interesting to hear about her living in Santa Fe and finding the spiritual side of things later on. This was something I did not know about her

11:45 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Martha Hyer does not appear in Artists and Models.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I generally enjoyed her work in westerns. Apart from those, I recently watched her in Down Three Dark Streets and Cry Vengeance.

I'd also echo Blake's admiration for her role in the superlative Some Came Running.


11:39 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Good catch, barrylane. Obviously, I was thinking of Dorothy Malone. It was kind a Hyer-type role and I guess the presence of both Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine made me mentally cast her. Jerry Lewis was mentioned in the obituary and I know all his movies but couldn't think of her in another one. It turns out it was THE DELICATE DELINQUENT (after Dean).

Well, let's say ABBOTT & COSTELLO GO TO MARS is one of that comedy team's best--at least among their 50s ones.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I always liked her voice. A controlled and attention-grabbing contralto. She presented an aura of class that is always appealing. Greatly enjoyed her TV guest spots, especially on "Burke's Law".

2:02 PM  
Blogger James Corry said...

Hey Laura (and everybody else!) you forgot Ray Harryhausen's 1964 fantasy "First Men In The Moon" in which Hyer starred with Lionel Jeffries and Edward Judd. It was the only film Harryhausen ever made in the widescreen Panavision process and Hyer certainly added a touch of class to the proceedings!


8:59 AM  
Blogger GunsDonovan said...

Brad, that would be my fault. Laura's Science fiction appreciation is not as strong as mine. Stars like Hyer that cross so many genres hard to keep track. I am a big fan of Ray Harryhausen, so no excuse on my part. She is one of the actresses that seems to pop up in a film. Kind of like Ward Bond.

The Husband

10:40 PM  
Blogger Jeff Flugel said...

Ms. Hyer was also a fine addition to NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY, with Clint Walker. Thanks for bringing her passing to my attention, Laura!

4:56 AM  
Blogger James Corry said...

"GunsDonovan" I love ya!! We'll have to educate Laura to the joys of sci-fi, fantasy & horror!


12:22 PM  

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