Friday, April 19, 2019

Nancy Gates, 1926-2019

I was saddened to learn from 50 Westerns From the 50s of the death of Nancy Gates, a special actress from many Westerns and other films. She passed away in Los Angeles on March 24th at the age of 93.

Like so many actors of the era, I first became acquainted with Nancy Gates thanks to reruns of TV's MAVERICK. She costarred opposite Jack Kelly in two episodes, "Burial Ground of the Gods" (1958) and "Passage to Fort Doom" (1959). (Side note: Her future COMANCHE STATION costar Claude Akins was also in "Burial Ground of the Gods.")

Nancy was just a teenager when she began her film career with a small role in THE TUTTLES OF TAHITI (1942), reviewed here just last month.

She was tested for Lucy in THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942); the role went to Anne Baxter, but she appeared in a bit role. Additional small parts followed in HITLER'S CHILDREN (1943), A NIGHT OF ADVENTURE (1944), and BRIDE BY MISTAKE (1944).

One of her earliest roles with more lines was appearing with Robert Mitchum and Anne Jeffreys in the RKO Western NEVADA (1944):

Throughout the '50s she appeared in Westerns, film noir, and more. Many of her movies have been reviewed here over the last several years, including THE ATOMIC CITY (1952), SUDDENLY (1954), MASTERSON OF KANSAS (1954), TOP OF THE WORLD (1955), NO MAN'S WOMAN (1955), STRANGER ON HORSEBACK (1955), WORLD WITHOUT END (1956), SOME CAME RUNNING (1958), THE GUNFIGHT AT DODGE CITY (1959), and COMANCHE STATION (1960). May 2018 Update: Here's a review of HELL'S HALF ACRE (1954).

I especially loved seeing her in Westerns. Budd Boetticher, director of COMANCHE STATION (seen above, with Randolph Scott), has been quoted as saying his favorite leading ladies were Nancy Gates and Maureen O'Hara.

Nancy with Joel McCrea in THE GUNFIGHT AT DODGE CITY:

In the entertaining sci-fi film WORLD WITHOUT END:

Starring with Frank Sinatra in the suspense film SUDDENLY:

In addition to MAVERICK, Nancy appeared in many TV Westerns, including BRONCO, WAGON TRAIN, GUNSMOKE, and THE VIRGINIAN.

London's Telegraph ran a nice obituary on Nancy a week ago, and The Hollywood Reporter published a story today.

Nancy's husband passed away in 1992; her survivors include four children.

Like her contemporary Julie Adams, who passed on earlier this year, Nancy Gates was a special actress who brought a little extra something to every film and TV show in which she appeared. Her work has given me countless happy hours of entertainment, and for that I am most grateful. My sincere condolences to her family.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

One of my favourite screen actresses. RIP Nancy.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, I enjoyed your tribute to a really fine working actress who appeared in so many movies and TV shows that we, as fans, have enjoyed over the years. The photographs you chose of Nancy are a nice touch.

Nancy Gates R.I.P.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, writer/actress/teacher Theodora Lois Sherman better known as Teddi Sherman passed away on January 16, 2019 at age 97. She co-wrote the screenplay of FOUR FACES WEST(1948) and several other movies and TV shows. I came across her obituary in the MALIBU TIMES.

Teddi Sherman R.I.P.

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just looked up the imdb page of Nancy Gates and saw she has a son CHIP HAYES. I thought that must be the one who married DEBORAH ADAIR. I was right. Chip was known as a writer and producer-writing for ALL MY CHILDREN. Deborah was known as the third actress to play JILL FOSTER on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. Then she did some AARON SPELLING shows. She was a regular on FINDER OF LOST LOVES (1984-85) with ANTHONY FRANCIOSA, she played his late wifes sister DAISY. She guest starred on THE LOVE BOAT, HOTEL, MATT HOUSTON-these were all Spelling shows. She also did another show for Spelling-DYNASTY where she played TRACY, she was in the opening credits. She also guest starred on MURDER, SHE WROTE. Deborah also was the original actress to play KATE ROBERTS on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Deborah had a very likable presence on FINDER OF LOST LOVES and her guest starring roles. NANCY GATES did a lot of westerns and DEBORAH ADAIR is known for two daytime soaps and also DYNASTY. I think I read that she did some episodes of MELROSE PLACE(another Spelling show).

11:40 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Jerry, she was special.

Walter, I'm so glad you enjoyed the tribute (and photos!). Nancy's career really defines "working actress," doesn't it?! Thank you also for the information on Teddi Sherman which was very interesting. I shared the obituary link you provided on my Twitter account.

Anonymous, thank you, now I know why the name Chip Hayes was familiar, I remember reading about Deborah Adair's husband "back in the day." (PS I encourage anyone logging in as "Anonymous" to use a name or handle at the end of your notes when posting so we can all get to know you better as individuals, since multiple people comment as "Anonymous.")

Thank you all for joining me in remembering this very special actress.

Best wishes,

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Laura. DEBORAH ADAIR also did a TV-Movie for AARON SPELLING titled RICH MEN, SINGLE WOMEN. The other women were played by SUZANNE SOMERS as PAIGE and HEATHER LOCKLEAR(also from DYNASTY) as TORI. (Of course Tori is the name of his real-life daughter.) Deborah played SUSAN, a real estate agent. The women were staying at one of the houses for sale, pretending it was their house. JOEL HIGGINS(SILVER SPOONS) and DOUG BARR, who played Howie on THE FALL GUY with Lee Majors , were also in the movie. My handle will be CLASSIC TV FAN.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the added info on Nancy Gates' daughter-in-law, Classic TV Fan!

While we're going down memory lane, I was fortunate to see Joel Higgins twice in a wonderful production of SHE LOVES ME, costarring Pam Dawber and Gary Sandy. He was really good. :)

Best wishes,

3:58 PM  
Blogger Lee R said...

I thought you did such a fine job on reporting the sad news. I couldn't have said it better, and the photos you chose were just the right touch. I, too, know Nancy mainly from her television roles. Hard to believe so many years have gone by since the glory days of shows in the early '60's.

Thank you so much for such a wonderful column.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Lee, I appreciate it.

It's wonderful to hear how many of us enjoyed Nancy Gates' work.

Best wishes,

10:18 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

A charming tribute to an actress who became one of those "old friends" we look forward to seeing.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much! I completely agree, a very welcome face in our TV and movie viewing.

Best wishes,

8:01 PM  

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