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|Also Known As:||Laraine Johnson,Laraine Johnson||Died:||November 10, 2007|
|Born:||October 13, 1920||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Roosevelt, Utah, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor|
A pretty lead of the 1940s and 50s, usually as a brunette, Day was less vivacious than the typical 'girl-next-door' but generally played sweet personable types. After experience with the Long Beach Players, she made her feature debut in King Vidor's classic "mother love" melodrama, "Stella Dallas" (1937). Briefly working under her birth name Laraine Johnson, Day played several leads in "B" Westerns and actioners before joining MGM in 1939. She found success quickly when she joined the cast of the studio's modestly produced but immensely popular "Dr. Kildare" films starring Lew Ayres. Indeed, for many filmgoers Day's best-remembered niche in the annals of popular culture came during her three-year tenure as the hero's requisite romantic interest, Nurse Mary Lamont. Despite occasional duds like "Kathleen" (1941), Day's status rose quickly, and she scored well on a poll as one of Hollywood's most promising leads. Always conveying an intelligent and forthright presence, Day was very likable as the leading lady of Hitchcock's splendidly suspenseful "Foreign Correspondent" (1940). That film, though, would prove to be one of her few important credits; Day rarely got to work with Hollywood's best directors and her pigeonholing as "attractive" and "ordinary" led to largely bland formula fare. Not a top star in terms of popularity or acclaim, Day nevertheless appeared in some big hits during her 40s tenure at RKO, including the Cary Grant vehicle "Mr. Lucky" (1943), the watchable if modest "Bride by Mistake" (1944) and the nostalgic "Those Endearing Young Charms" (1945). And some of her minor credits have real merit, especially the unjustly overlooked "And One Was Beautiful" (1940). Day acted opposite a number of major stars: she and Lana Turner played WACs in "Keep Your Powder Dry" (1945) and John Wayne partnered her in the expensive disaster "Tycoon" (1947). Though not typical film noir material, Day was perhaps never more memorable than in an offbeat role which used her reliable, placid quality to deceptive ends--that of the mentally unbalanced heroine of John Brahm's strikingly directed, flashback-packed "The Locket" (1946). Another noir, "I Married a Communist" (1949), though hardly a good film, is nonetheless also memorable as an unfortunate cultural index to the cruel excesses of Cold War paranoia. Day moved into TV in the 50s, performing well on "The Lux Video Theater", and "Playhouse 90". She briefly hosted a mix of talk show and dramatic vignettes with "Daydreaming with Laraine/The Laraine Day Show" (1951) and was a panelist on "I've Got a Secret". Despite her TV work and several features, the best of which was the highly enjoyable prototype of airplane disaster movies, "The High and the Mighty" (1954), Day found interests outside acting. She was active in the Mormon church she had grown up with, and she also became known as the "First Lady of Baseball" after marrying her second husband, legendary manager Leo Durocher. (Her book "Day with the Giants" is a memoir of these days.) From the 60s through the 90s Day has made occasional returns to TV, evoking memories of her past with "Murder on Flight 502" (1975). She also gave assured professional turns on series including "Hotel" and "Murder, She Wrote".
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