Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dorothy Malone!

Oscar-winning actress Dorothy Malone turns 90 today.

Malone was born in Chicago on January 30, 1925, and grew up in Dallas.

Malone started out in small roles in the early '40s, breaking out of the pack of bit players with a brief yet very memorable role as a bookstore clerk who banters with Humphrey Bogart's Philip Marlowe in the classic THE BIG SLEEP (1946).

Malone proved to be equally good as "girl next door" types, as she was portrayed in countless '40s studio publicity photos, or in more sultry or hard-edged roles. In the decade after THE BIG SLEEP, Malone appeared in over 30 films, including a significant number of Westerns.

Film historian Blake Lucas, in his recent review of the Western THE NEVADAN (1950) at 50 Westerns From the 50s, called her "an icon of the genre." I thought that was a beautiful and quite apt description.

Malone snagged a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her flashy role as a troubled woman in Douglas Sirk's WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956).

After WRITTEN ON THE WIND Malone continued to work steadily in both films and television, hitting it big again with the TV series PEYTON PLACE in 1964. In 2009 the Los Angeles Times interviewed Malone, who was then retired and living in Texas, when the series was released on DVD.

Malone had two daughters with her first husband, actor Jacques Bergerac, who passed away last summer. In the 2009 Times article, one of her daughters reported that Malone continued to receive fan mail from around the world and said, "It just brightens her day."

Dorothy Malone films reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: HIGHER AND HIGHER (1943), THE FALCON AND THE CO-EDS (1943), ONE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT (1944), FLAXY MARTIN (1949), THE KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK (1950), THE NEVADAN (1950), LAW AND ORDER (1953), THE LONE GUN (1954), PUSHOVER (1954), TALL MAN RIDING (1955), WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956), QUANTEZ (1957) (also here), TIP ON A DEAD JOCKEY (1957), THE LAST VOYAGE (1960), and FATE IS THE HUNTER (1964).

Some of the notable Malone films not yet reviewed here include ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON (1948), SOUTH OF ST. LOUIS (1949), COLORADO TERRITORY (1949), SADDLE LEGION (1951), TORPEDO ALLEY (1952), JACK SLADE (1953), LOOPHOLE (1954), YOUNG AT HEART (1954), BATTLE CRY (1955), and THE TARNISHED ANGELS (1957). I anticipate reviewing several of these in the coming months.

Best wishes for a very happy birthday to an actress whose work has brought this viewer a great deal of pleasure over the years.

January 2016 Update: Here are review links for TWO GUYS FROM TEXAS (1948), SOUTH OF ST. LOUIS (1949), COLORADO TERRITORY (1949), LOOPHOLE (1954), and BEACH PARTY (1963), plus a new review of FLAXY MARTIN (1949).

January 2017 Update: Here's a review of THE BIG SLEEP (1946), in which Dorothy had her breakout role.

January 19, 2018 Update: Dorothy Malone has passed away at the age of 92.

Update: I've now reviewed JANIE GETS MARRIED (1946), SADDLE LEGION (1951), BATTLE CRY (1955), PILLARS OF THE SKY (1956), THE TARNISHED ANGELS (1957), and WARLOCK (1959).

Update: Since this was first written, Malone's birthday has been updated on various websites to January 29th, 1924. A photo of her final resting place in Dallas confirms the year 1924.


Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Thanks for the reference to what I wrote about her just last week and your kind words about it.

It was interesting when I looked her up--I hadn't thought of her so much for all the Westerns she was in because I've always thought first of those two Sirk melodrama which I consider her peak. For me, her best performance is in THE TARNISHED ANGELS, even more than WRITTEN ON THE WIND. She's awesome in both.

But after her appreciating her so much for her playing in THE NEVADAN, I took a look at her filmography and yes she is in a very significant number of good Westerns, always just right in them, so she is part of that iconography.

Glad she's still with us at 90. I've always loved Dorothy Malone.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Underrated and underappreciated are words that get thrown around often but really apply in her case. I'm a big fan, love her work in those 2 Sirk movies and she was good in so many kinds of roles and genres.

3:48 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

This is a cute picture. I have red Blake's comments that take criticism to a new and higher level. They were an insightful revelation regarding a film heretofore in my view, simply product. Obviously, much more than that.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

Dorothy Malone has always been one of my favourites too. So I wish her a very Happy 90th Birthday.

She was, of course, in several fine westerns with both Scott and McCrea, as well as both George Montgomery and a couple with Fred MacMurray and "Law And Order" with Ronald Reagan.

She was most stretched perhaps (and delivered) in the two Douglas Sirk dramas,

And she was gorgeous!

3:46 AM  
Blogger E said...

I caught up with a late evening screening of 1955's "The Fast and the Furious", a couple of days back on Chilean TV. John Ireland and Dorothy Malone star in this most underrated movie, whose script is by Roger Corman. Dorothy looks as classy and beautiful as always. Only then did I realize she had turned 90 on the same day. It's indeed a blessing she's still with us. Happy birthday, Dorothy !

7:13 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

What a delight to hear from so many fellow fans of Dorothy Malone over the past day! :)

Blake, thanks for sharing your thoughts on her best work -- THE TARNISHED ANGELS is a Sirk film still ahead of me to see.

And I very much concur with Barrylane's comment on Blake's review of THE NEVADAN. Blake, I think it's one of the best things you've written, connecting so many dots among films in the genre as well as focusing on the aspects which made that film special.

Jerry, I love that Malone worked with so many of my favorite Western stars -- Tim Holt, too, though I haven't seen it yet! LAW AND ORDER with Ronald Reagan is a film I liked a lot.

Kristina and E, thank you for sharing your thoughts as well! I'm glad we could have a "virtual celebration" of her birthday here and hope that she enjoyed a great day.

Best wishes,

7:48 PM  
Blogger John G. said...

Hi Laura, first post here (I'm the guy who e-mailed you the other night.

FYI, Dorothy's Western, "The Last Sunset" (co-starring Kirk Douglas) is available as part of the inexpensive two-disc Rock Hudson Collection DVD box.

Good movie (and unexpected find), as I originally bought the set solely for the Leslie Caron movie, "A Very Special Favor." Not the greatest flick, but
there's not a lot of non-musical Caron movies from when she was in her prime beauty years. Yeah, I'm shallow like that... :-)

11:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John G., and welcome!

Thanks so much for mentioning the Malone film in that Rock Hudson set -- I just picked up the set for a song recently and had forgotten she was in one of the films. The big pull for me to pick up the set was getting Sirk's HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL?

Hope you'll enjoy visiting again.

Best wishes,

12:28 PM  
Blogger John G. said...


If after watching "The Last Sunset" you get curious about the other movie on the disc, "The Golden Blade", don't bother. I think if you looked up "godawful" in the dictionary it'd say "Rock Hudson plays a Middle Eastern sword-fighter." :-)

1:56 PM  
Blogger jlp said...

Attended the 92nd Birthday Party of the ever beautiful and gracious Miss Dorothy Malone. Her daughters Mimi and Diane had her residence decorated with streamers, balloons. There were flowers and cards from all over the world wishing her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Several cakes for the family and friends at the come and go celebration. One of the last stars of Hollywood's Golden Era. Miss Malone is still amazed that she is so well remembered and loved by her many fans worldwide. A great and wonderful day to remember.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

JLP, thanks so much for sharing your account of Dorothy's birthday! She's provided so many of us with wonderful hours of entertainment -- I've seen her in three films in just the last few weeks! I hope she knows how appreciative her many fans are of her contributions to the "golden age of cinema."

Best wishes,

2:58 PM  
Blogger John G. said...

Rest in peace, Dorothy...

6:03 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Indeed, John. Such sad news today hearing that she has left us.

Best wishes,

6:27 PM  

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