skip navigation
Peter Lawford

Peter Lawford

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (17)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Henry Fonda: The Signature Collection... "Henry Fonda: The Signature Collection" DVD is a dedication to one of the... more info $39.98was $39.98 Buy Now

A Man Called Adam DVD Sammy Davis, Jr., shines in this dark drama as a successful jazz trumpeter who... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Dead Ringer DVD Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Now Who's The Fairest Twin Of All?What happened to... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

The Australian Story DVD "The Australian Story" (1952) follows a drunken rancher, who is in the middle of... more info $14.93was $14.93 Buy Now

The Picture Of Dorian Gray... Perfection on the outside. Murderous corruption within.Years change. Handsome... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Easter Parade DVD Strolling along 5th Avenue or going on the bum as A Couple of Swells, Judy... more info $7.99was $14.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Peter Sidney Ernest Aylen Died: December 24, 1984
Born: September 7, 1923 Cause of Death: cardiac arrest
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A dashing and handsome English-American actor, Peter Lawford enjoyed a brief stint as a matinee idol in the 1940s before becoming better known as an in-law of the Kennedys and a member of "The Rat Pack" during the 1960s. Benefitting greatly from the dearth of handsome male talent in Hollywood during World War II, Lawford gained notice for appearances in such films as "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) and "Son of Lassie" (1945). More roles followed throughout the 1950s, although it was his marriage to Patricia Kennedy - sister of John and Robert Kennedy - as well as his association with Frank Sinatra's iconic cadre of carousers that brought Lawford lasting fame. Years after JFK's assassination, rumors about Lawford's scandalous adventures with the president, his being the last person to speak to a despondent Marilyn Monroe before her tragic death, and a bitter falling out with Sinatra, became the stuff of legend. Less glamorous was Lawford's decline in the film industry, several failed marriages, and chronic alcoholism. With the halcyon years of "Ocean's Eleven" (1960) far behind him, the aging actor made due with the occasional film role and guest turns on such TV fare as "The Doris Day Show" (CBS,...

A dashing and handsome English-American actor, Peter Lawford enjoyed a brief stint as a matinee idol in the 1940s before becoming better known as an in-law of the Kennedys and a member of "The Rat Pack" during the 1960s. Benefitting greatly from the dearth of handsome male talent in Hollywood during World War II, Lawford gained notice for appearances in such films as "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) and "Son of Lassie" (1945). More roles followed throughout the 1950s, although it was his marriage to Patricia Kennedy - sister of John and Robert Kennedy - as well as his association with Frank Sinatra's iconic cadre of carousers that brought Lawford lasting fame. Years after JFK's assassination, rumors about Lawford's scandalous adventures with the president, his being the last person to speak to a despondent Marilyn Monroe before her tragic death, and a bitter falling out with Sinatra, became the stuff of legend. Less glamorous was Lawford's decline in the film industry, several failed marriages, and chronic alcoholism. With the halcyon years of "Ocean's Eleven" (1960) far behind him, the aging actor made due with the occasional film role and guest turns on such TV fare as "The Doris Day Show" (CBS, 1968-1973) and "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1977-1984). A bit player in a fascinating chapter of American pop-culture, Lawford would most likely be remembered less for his acting credentials than for the legacy encapsulated in author James Spada's unofficial biography, Peter Lawford: The Man Who Kept the Secrets.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Where Is Parsifal? (1984) Montague Chippendale
2.
 Body and Soul (1982) Big Man
3.
 Angels Brigade (1980)
4.
 Mysterious Island Of Beautiful (1979) Gordon Duvall
5.
 Fantasy Island (1977) Grant Baines
7.
 Rosebud (1975) Lord Carter
8.
 That's Entertainment! (1974) Narration
9.
 The Phantom of Hollywood (1974) Roger Cross
10.
 They Only Kill Their Masters (1972) [Lee] Campbell
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1924:
Moved with parents to Deauville at age one to avoid scandal of their divorces
1930:
Family returned to London because of worldwide Depression
1931:
Film debut in "Poor Old Bill" (as a result of mother's political association with Sir Thomas Paulson who owned major interest in Elstree Studios)
1932:
Returned to France where he appeared in several films
1937:
Moved to Hollywood
:
Had travelled three times around the world by age 15
1938:
US film debut (bit part), "Lord Jeff" at age 14
1939:
Worked as gas station attendant, then parked cars and became manager of the parking lot in West Palm Beach, FL
1942:
Returned to Hollywood; disqualified from military service because of teenage injury to right arm; worked as usher in a Westwood, CA movie theater
1942:
Played a pilot in "Mrs. Miniver"
1942:
First major role in "A Yank at Eton"
:
Appeared briefly in 22 films from 1942-43
1943:
Signed to MGM contract (for one year with second year option at $100 per week with 40 weeks guaranteed)
1951:
First learned of scandal concerning his parents' divorce scandal and his own paternity
1952:
MGM contract not renewed
1954:
Starred in and produced first TV series, "Dear Phoebe"
1954:
Reportedly introduced John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe to each other
1956:
Bought Louis B. Mayer's former Santa Monica beach front estate for $95,000
1957:
Starred in TV series, "The Thin Man"
1960:
Joined Frank Sinatra's "Rat Pack"
1960:
Became an American citizen in order to vote in 1960 election for brother-in-law John F. Kennedy
1960:
Formed Chrislaw production company with Milton Ebbins which produced "The Patty Duke Show" and the film, "Johnny Cool" (both 1963) (date approximate)
:
Appeared in a continuing role on "The Doris Day Show"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"Peter Lawford's tenure at MGM is one of the best examples of how an MGM contract could both elevate and sabotage a performer's career. Peter's association with the studio put him in some of the best, most expensive, most popular films produced in the United States in the 1940s. With few exceptions, however, his roles were secondary and demanded little more of him than that he look handsome and act charming.

"Peter was undeniably talented, and he showed promise when forced to stretch himself. But MGM had so many extraordinarily gifted performers that someone with relatively modest abilities, like Peter, was expendable. 'Most of the time I spent sunbathing in my backyard,' he said. 'Every now and then the postman would throw a new script through the front door which I'd be obliged to do whether I wanted to or not.'" --James Spada ("Peter Lawford: The Man Who Kept the Secrets" 1991)

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Lana Turner. Actor. Had eight month relationship in 1944.
companion:
June Allyson. Actor. Met while filming "Two Sisters From Boston (1946).
companion:
Ava Gardner. Actor. Dated in 1946.
companion:
Sharman Douglas. Socialite. Dated 1949; engaged 1950; he broke off engagement after four days; daughter of American ambassador to the court of St. James in London.
companion:
Jean MacDonald. Reporter. Society reporter for "Honolulu Star Bulletin"; met while Lawford on route to film "Kangaroo" in Australia (1951); engaged 1952.
companion:
Judy Holliday. Actor. Met while filming "It Should Happen to You" (1953).
wife:
Patricia Kennedy. Radio and TV production assistant. Married April 24, 1954, divorced January 1, 1966; John F. Kennedy's sister; worked as production assistant on Kate Smith's radio program (1949) and Father Peyton's "Family Rosary Crusade"; mother of Lawford's four children.
companion:
Geri Crane. Model. Together 1968-70; 23 years Lawford's junior.
wife:
Mary Rowan. Dancer. Married October 30, 1971 at age (circa) 21, divorced January 2, 1975; daughter of comedian Dan Rowan; met during 1971 taping of "Laugh In" on which Lawford was a guest.
wife:
Deborah Gould. Aspiring actor. Married June 24, 1976; divorced; 27 years Lawford's junior.
wife:
Pat Seaton. Married July 1984 in hospital where Lawford was operated on for bleeding ulcer; together from 1976 when Seaton was 17; co-author of "The Peter Lawford Story".
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Sydney Lawford. Lieutenant general. Born November 16, 1865; died February 15, 1953; knighted for heroism in WWI; appeared as character actor in 1940s films ("The Amazing Mr. Nordill", "The Suspect", "Kitty"); married May Bunny Aylen September 11, 1924 after birth of their son; was Ernest Aylen's commanding officer.
mother:
May Lawford. Journalist, actor. Born 1883, died January 23, 1972; married first husband Harry Cooper in 1902 (committed suicide); married second husband Ernest Vaughan Aylen (major in Royal Army Medical Corps); divorced Aylen in 1923 after birth of her son Peter fathered by Aylen's commanding officer Sir Sydney Lawford; Aylen gave name to May's son; married Lawford 1924; wrote column for London newspapers on her international travels in 1928; signed MGM contract in 1950 as an actor and consultant "on all things British"; appeared in two MGM films ("Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" 1945 and "Hong Kong" 1952); as Lady May Lawford or Mary Somerville appeared on TV in the late 1950s (on "Matinee Theatre", "Climax!" and her son's series, "The Thin Man" 1957).
son:
Christopher Kennedy Lawford. Actor, producer. Born on March 29, 1955; mother Patricia Kennedy; received a degree from Boston College Law School in 1983; has appeared on TV commercials and in films "Impulse" (1990), "Run" and "The Doors" (both 1991) and as a regular on the ABC daytime soap "All My Children".
daughter:
Sydney Lawford. Born August 25, 1956; mother Patricia Kennedy.
daughter:
Victoria Frances Lawford. Born November 4, 1958; TV coordinator for Very Special Arts (affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts for the disabled); mother Patricia Kennedy.
daughter:
Robin Elizabeth Lawford. Born July 2, 1961; mother Patricia Kennedy.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Peter Lawford Story" Carroll & Graf
"Peter Lawford: The Man Who Kept the Secrets" Bantam Books
"Bitch! The Autobiography of Lady Lawford As Told to Buddy Galon" Branden
"Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey and the Last Great Showbiz Party" Doubleday
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Contributions

JStafford ( 2006-03-23 )

Source: Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten (Santa Monica Press) by Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham.

Peter Lawford once lived at 625 Palisades Beach Road in Santa Monica, California - a house formerly owned by MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer. President John F. Kennedy was a guest here during the 1960 Democratic National Convention. He would also use the house to rendezvous with Marilyn Monroe. (Source) Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten (Santa Monica Press) by Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute