Vera Miles


Actor
Vera Miles

About

Also Known As
Vera May Ralston
Birth Place
Boise City, Oklahoma, USA
Born
August 23, 1929

Biography

A warm, reliable and likable lead of features and TV beginning in the 1950s, Vera Miles got a prominent start but rarely seemed to get the roles her talent merited. An attractive, composed woman who worked as a model after placing third in the 1948 Miss America contest, she broke into films in 1951. Although her first leads were in modest films, her earnest, outdoorsy heroines suited her...

Photos & Videos

Back Street (1961) - Color Scene Stills
Back Street (1961) - Lobby Card Set
Autumn Leaves - Lobby Card Set

Family & Companions

Robert Miles
Husband
Stuntman. Married 1949-54.
Gordon Scott
Husband
Actor. Married 1956, divorced 1959; second husband; acted together in the feature, "Tarzan's Hidden Jungle" (1954).
Keith Larsen
Husband
Actor, director. Married 1960, divorced; third husband; acted together in "The Rose Bowl Story" (1952), "Wichita" (1955) and "Mission Batangas" (1969), the last of which was also directed by Larsen.
Bob Jones
Husband
Married 1973.

Notes

"Physically she had the makings of his favourite cool blonde type, and he (Alfred Hitchcock) thought he could manoeuvre her into it. He set to work to mould her career, choose her other roles for her, give her an image by selecting the colours she should wear and the way her hair should be styled. But he came up against a problem he had not anticipated: she was an excellent actress--better, probably, than some of the others he had given the same treatment to--and she looked more or less right, but temperamentally she was all wrong. On screen she came over as strong, practical, earthy. Not ethereal at all, not cool and mysterious. Nor, perhaps, the material really big, big stars are made of." --John Russell Taylor ("Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock" 1978)

Biography

A warm, reliable and likable lead of features and TV beginning in the 1950s, Vera Miles got a prominent start but rarely seemed to get the roles her talent merited. An attractive, composed woman who worked as a model after placing third in the 1948 Miss America contest, she broke into films in 1951. Although her first leads were in modest films, her earnest, outdoorsy heroines suited her well for "The Rose Bowl Story" (1952) and Jacques Tourneur's stylish "Wichita" (1955). She also kept busy in TV anthologies, where she first worked with the directors who helmed her most important films. John Ford directed Miles in "Rookie of the Year" (1955), an episode of "Screen Directors Playhouse" which led him to cast her as an outspoken frontierswoman in his classic "The Searchers" (1956). Hitchcock, meanwhile, liked her work in "Revenge" (1955) on his "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" so much that he put her under personal contract.

Hitchcock obviously saw in Miles a gift for quietly expressing maturity coping with great tension, beautifully registered in his "The Wrong Man" (1957). As a wife who slowly cracks under the strain as her innocent husband (Henry Fonda) is imprisoned for armed robbery, Miles gave the film's finest performance, and her stardom seemed set. She occasionally played second lead to a bigger star (Joan Crawford in "Autumn Leaves" 1956, Susan Hayward in "Back Street" 1961), but she more than held her own opposite imposing male stars Van Johnson ("23 Paces to Baker Street" 1956) and James Stewart ("The FBI Story" 1959).

Attempting to mold Miles to his classic icy blonde prototype, Hitchcock then cast her in "Vertigo" (1958), but she became pregnant and lost the choice role to Kim Novak. She did later star as the woman who initiates the search for her missing sister (Janet Leigh) in Hitchcock's landmark "Psycho" (1960). It gradually became clear, though, that Miles, whose persona seemed practical rather than glamorous, energetic rather than sparkling, was a fine, low-key actor perhaps more than she was a flashy movie star ready to be molded by a Svengali.

Though she acted less often and in smaller films, Miles continued playing leads into the 80s, a standout being Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962). Beginning with "A Tiger Walks" and "Those Calloways" (both 1964), Miles made six films for Disney Studios over the next eight years, typically as helpful wives ("Follow Me, Boys!" 1966) or self-sufficient widows ("The Castaway Cowboy" 1974). Leads ("Run for the Roses" 1978) then alternated with key supporting roles, the best being her reprisal of her Lila, now considerably embittered, for the remarkably good sequel, "Psycho II" (1983). TV on the whole did better by Miles, from her steely would-be murderess in the experimental "The Forms of Things Unknown" (1964), a famous installment of "The Outer Limits"; to her gritty roles in the TV-movies "And I Alone Survived" (1978) and "Helen Keller--The Miracle Continues" (1984). Divorced from Tarzan actor Gordon Scott and actor/director Keith Larsen.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Separate Lives (1995)
Hijacking Of The Achille Lauro (1989)
Sophie Kubacki
International Airport (1985)
Into The Night (1985)
The Initiation (1983)
Frances Fairchild
Travis Mcgee: Empty Copper Sea (1983)
Psycho II (1983)
Rona Jaffe's Mazes and Monsters (1982)
Cat--Robbie'S Mom
BrainWaves (1982)
Our Family Business (1981)
Run For the Roses (1978)
Clarissa
And I Alone Survived (1978)
Irene Elder
Fire! (1977)
Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977)
The Thoroughbreds (1977)
Smash Up on Interstate 5 (1976)
McNaughton's Daughter (1976)
Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys (1976)
Mrs Horton
The Strange and Deadly Occurrence (1974)
Christine Rhodes
The Underground Man (1974)
Eleanor Strome
The Castaway Cowboy (1974)
Live Again, Die Again (1974)
One Little Indian (1973)
Doris
Baffled (1973)
Andrea Glenn
Runaway! (1973)
Ellen Staffo
A Great American Tragedy (1972)
Molly and Lawless John (1972)
Molly Parker
Jigsaw (1972)
Lilah Beth Cummings
In Search of America (1971)
Jenny Olson
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law (1971)
Cannon (1971)
A Howling in the Woods (1971)
Rose Saines
It Takes All Kinds (1969)
Laura Ring
Kona Coast (1968)
Melissa Hyde
Mission Batangas (1968)
Joan Barnes
Sergeant Ryker (1968)
Ann Ryker
Hellfighters (1968)
Madelyn Buckman
The Spirit Is Willing (1967)
Kate Powell
Gentle Giant (1967)
Ellen Wedloe
Follow Me, Boys! (1966)
Vida Downey
Those Calloways (1965)
Liddy Calloway
A Tiger Walks (1964)
Dorothy Williams
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Hallie
Back Street (1961)
Liz Saxon
Psycho (1960)
Lila Crane
Five Branded Women (1960)
Daniza
A Touch of Larceny (1960)
Virginia Killain
The Lawbreakers (1960)
The FBI Story (1959)
Lucy Hardesty
Web Of Evidence (1959)
Lena Anderson
The Wrong Man (1957)
Rose Balestrero
Beau James (1957)
Betty Compton
23 Paces to Baker Street (1956)
Jean Lennox
The Searchers (1956)
Laurie Jorgensen
Autumn Leaves (1956)
Virginia
Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955)
Jill Hardy
Wichita (1955)
Laurie [McCoy]
Pride of the Blue Grass (1954)
Linda Mason
So Big (1953)
Schoolgirl
The Charge at Feather River (1953)
Jennie McKeever
The Rose Bowl Story (1952)
Denny Burke
For Men Only (1952)
Kathy Hughes
Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)
Chorus girl

Cast (Special)

State Fair (1976)
The Hanged Man (1964)
Mr. Tutt (1958)
Judy Gregory (Guest)

Cast (Short)

The Screen Writer (1950)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Helen Keller -- The Miracle Continues (1984)
Roughnecks (1980)

Life Events

1948

Won third place in the Miss America Pageant

1951

Film debut in "Two Tickets to Broadway"

1952

Played first female lead in films in the sports picture, "The Rose Bowl Story", a low-budgeter made by Monogram Pictures

1955

First worked with Alfred Hitchcock on an episode of the TV anthology series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" entitled "Revenge", which he also directed

1955

First worked with John Ford on an episode of the TV anthology series, "Screen Directors Playhouse" entitled "Rookie of the Year", which he directed

1956

Put under personal contract to Alfred Hitchcock; made a first film with him, "The Wrong Man", in which she starred opposite Henry Fonda

1958

Was cast in Hitchcock's "Vertigo" but had to withdraw due to pregnancy

1959

First non-US feature film, the British-made "Beyond This Place" (US release title "Web of Evidence"), in which she co-starred opposite Van Johnson

1959

Was a panel regular on the TV quiz show, "Stump the Stars"

1960

Last feature with Hitchcock, "Psycho"

1962

Second and last feature directed by Ford, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

1964

Played female lead in "A Tiger Walks", the first of six Disney films she made over the next eight years, and the first of three directed by Norman Tokar; starred opposite Brian Keith in the first two films

1964

Starred with Barbara Rush, David McCallum and Cedric Hardwicke in "The Forms of Things Unknown", an episode of the cult sci-fi series, "The Outer Limits", also intended as a pilot for a spinoff program, "The Unknown"; the show's producers became embroiled in conflict with ABC and the new series never materialized

1964

First TV-movie, "The Hanged Man"

1967

Played female lead of Ellen Wedloe in the TV pilot for the CBS adventure series, "Gentle Ben", opposite Dennis Weaver; role was taken by Beth Brickell, however, when it became a series

1974

Last of six films for Walt Disney in which she had the female lead, "The Castaway Cowby", co-starring James Garner

1980

First TV miniseries, "Roughnecks"

1989

Played a leading role in the stage play, "The Immigrant: A Hamilton County Album", presented at the LaMirada Civic Theater in California

1991

Played role of Nancy Landon on several episodes of the long-running CBS mystery series, "Murder, She Wrote"

Photo Collections

Back Street (1961) - Color Scene Stills
Back Street (1961) - Color Scene Stills
Back Street (1961) - Lobby Card Set
Back Street (1961) - Lobby Card Set
Autumn Leaves - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Columbia Pictures' Autumn Leaves (1956), starring Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Autumn Leaves - Publicity Stills
Here are a number of still taken to help publicize Columbia Pictures' Autumn Leaves (1956), starring Joan Crawford, Cliff Robertson and Vera Miles.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Movie Posters
Here is a variety of original-release American movie posters from John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), starring John Wayne and James Stewart.

Videos

Movie Clip

Searchers, The (1956) - We've Seen Scalps Before Big reveal here as Mexican trader Figueroa (Antonio Moreno) leads the title characters (John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter as Ethan and Martin) to meet Comanche chief Scar (Henry Brandon), who is suspected of holding kidnapped Debbie (who’s grown up to be Natalie Wood), and who brandishes a medal long ago given to the girl, in John Ford’s celebrated Western The Searchers, 1956.
Wichita (1955) - Pretty Good Sized Man Packed scene after the opening of the railroad, Joel McCrea as visitor Wyatt Earp is making a deposit (Sam Peckinpah his teller!) when railroad chief McCoy (Walter Coy) arrives with wife, daughter, reporter Bat Masterson and the mayor (Mae Clarke, Vera Miles, Keith Larsen, Carl Benton Reid), and trouble ensues, George Sherwood the risk-averse sheriff, in Wichta, 1955.
Wichita (1955) - Babylon On The Arkansas River None of the principals appear here, as two guys we haven’t seen (Peter Graves and John Smith, whom we’ll learn play the brothers of the star, Joel McCrea as Marshal Wyatt Earp) arrive, meeting the bartender (William Newell) and the scheming saloon owner Black (Edgar Buchanan), in Wichta, 1955.
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962) - That's My Steak Men fight over meat, with Ranse (James Stewart) waiting table, Liberty (Lee Marvin) making trouble, and Tom (John Wayne) booting Strother Martin, in an outrageous confrontation from John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962.
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962) - I'd Have Had A Bang-up Funeral Sen. and Mrs. Stoddard (James Stewart, Vera Miles) discover the minimal preparations for a friend's funeral, Pompey (Woody Strode) already mourning, Earle Hudgins and Andy Devine featured, early in John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962.
Wrong Man, The (1956) - This Is A True Story The director addresses the audience, setting the distinct tone of his non-fiction mystery, followed by credits and the introduction of protagonist Manny Balestrero (Henry Fonda), in Hitchcock's The Wrong Man, 1956.
Wrong Man, The (1956) - Booked For A Holdup Manny (Henry Fonda) is jailed, as his brother-in-law Gene (Nehemiah Persoff), wife Rose (Vera Miles) and mother (Esther Minciotti) get the news, ending in a famous sequence, from Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man, 1956.
Back Street (1961) - Domestic Champagne Still on the night they met, Rae (Susan Hayward) is rescued by Marine Paul (John Gavin), from her "interview" with dress-maker Venner (Alex Gerry) who had more than business in mind, in the third version, from 1961, of Fannie Hurst's Back Street.
Back Street (1961) - Very Chic Rae (Susan Hayward), now a rising New York designer, taunting her snarky but devoted boss Dalian (Reginald Gardiner), takes a walk and meets Paul (John Gavin), years after they parted, in Back Street, 1961, from producer Ross Hunter.
Autumn Leaves - Please Bear With Me... Vera Miles (as "Virginia," in her first film after The Searchers) upsets the precarious mental balance of Joan Crawford (as "Milly"), with news of her husband, in Robert Aldrich's Autumn Leaves, 1956.
FBI Story, The (1959) - Murder Section Knoxville, TN, 1924, small-time federal agent Chip Hardesty (James Stewart) and librarian Lucy (Vera Miles, her first scene) are playing it coy until they reach the stacks, where they discuss marriage and his career with the crime bureau, a flashback in The FBI Story, 1959.

Trailer

Family

Thomas Ralston
Father
Burnice Ralston
Mother
Deborah Miles
Daughter
Born 1950; father Robert Miles.
Kelly Miles
Daughter
Born 1952; father Robert Miles.
Michael Scott
Son
Born c. 1958; father Gordon Scott.
Erik Larsen
Son
Father Keith Larsen.

Companions

Robert Miles
Husband
Stuntman. Married 1949-54.
Gordon Scott
Husband
Actor. Married 1956, divorced 1959; second husband; acted together in the feature, "Tarzan's Hidden Jungle" (1954).
Keith Larsen
Husband
Actor, director. Married 1960, divorced; third husband; acted together in "The Rose Bowl Story" (1952), "Wichita" (1955) and "Mission Batangas" (1969), the last of which was also directed by Larsen.
Bob Jones
Husband
Married 1973.

Bibliography

Notes

"Physically she had the makings of his favourite cool blonde type, and he (Alfred Hitchcock) thought he could manoeuvre her into it. He set to work to mould her career, choose her other roles for her, give her an image by selecting the colours she should wear and the way her hair should be styled. But he came up against a problem he had not anticipated: she was an excellent actress--better, probably, than some of the others he had given the same treatment to--and she looked more or less right, but temperamentally she was all wrong. On screen she came over as strong, practical, earthy. Not ethereal at all, not cool and mysterious. Nor, perhaps, the material really big, big stars are made of." --John Russell Taylor ("Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock" 1978)