Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BORN ON THIS DAY: GLORIA GRAHAME

I remember seeing actress Gloria Grahame years ago in the epic movie musical Oklahoma (1955), and she stood out to me as a truly beautiful actress. Later on I saw her in a secondary lead role in another epic The Greatest Show On Earth (1952), and not only was she a beauty but she was a decent actress as well. Gloria Grahame was born on this day, November 28th in 1923.

Grahame was born Gloria Hallward in Los Angeles, California. Reginald Michael Bloxam Hallward, her father, was an architect and author and her mother, Jeanne McDougall, who used the stage name Jean Grahame, was a British stage actress and acting teacher. McDougall taught her younger daughter acting during her childhood and adolescence. The couple had another daughter, Joy Hallward (1911–2003), an actress who married John Mitchum (the younger brother of actor Robert Mitchum).

She made her film debut in Blonde Fever (1944) and then scored one of her most widely praised roles as the promiscuous Violet, saved from disgrace by George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). MGM was not able to develop her potential as a star and her contract was sold to RKO Studios in 1947.

Grahame was often featured in film noir pictures as a tarnished beauty with an irresistible sexual allure. During this time, she made films for several Hollywood studios. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947).

Grahame starred with Humphrey Bogart in the 1950 film In a Lonely Place, a performance which garnered her considerable praise. Though today it is considered among her finest performances, it wasn't a box-office hit and Howard Hughes, owner of RKO Studios, admitted that he never saw it. When she asked to be loaned out for roles in Born Yesterday and A Place in the Sun, Hughes refused and instead made her do a supporting role in Macao. However, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in MGM's The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).


Grahame's career began to wane after her performance in the musical film Oklahoma! (1955). Grahame, whom audiences were used to seeing as a film noir siren, was viewed by some critics to be miscast as an ignorant country lass in a wholesome musical, and the paralysis of her upper lip from plastic surgery altered her speech and appearance. Additionally, Grahame was rumored to have been difficult on the set of Oklahoma!, upstaging some of the cast and alienating her co-stars, which furthered her fall from grace in Hollywood. Her personal life was even more spotty with numerous relationships and marriages (she even married an ex-step son at one point).

In 1980, Grahame was diagnosed with stomach cancer but refused surgery, insisting that she did not have the disease. In 1981, she traveled to England to perform in a play. While there, a procedure to have fluid drained from her stomach resulted in a perforated bowel. This became apparent only after she collapsed during a rehearsal. She succumbed to the disease on October 5, 1981 at the young age of 57. Gloria Grahame died young, but hopefully on this day we can remember her birth and the wonderful body of work she left behind...

2 comments:

  1. Gloria Grahame was a gorgeous woman and a wonderfully skilled actress. She was also a devoted and loving mom to 4 kids. But there is a very troubling story about her often repeated as fact which is that she engaged in sex w/Tony Ray (later her 4th husband) when he was only 13 years old. If this happened, she committed statutory rape and should have been jailed.

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