Linda Darnell


Actor
Linda Darnell

About

Also Known As
Monetta Eloyse Darnell
Birth Place
Dallas, Texas, USA
Born
October 16, 1923
Died
April 10, 1965
Cause of Death
Complications From Burns Suffered In A Fire At The Home Of Her Former Secretary

Biography

Linda Darnell was touted by Hollywood wags as "the girl with the perfect face," and for once the description fit. Her cameo-cut china doll face was enough to ensure stardom in glamor-obsessed 1940s Hollywood; surely Darnell could easily fit into the top ten most beautiful women the screen has ever known. And as she matured, her voice deepened into a torchy throb that added intensity to t...

Photos & Videos

Rise and Shine - Title Lobby Card
A Letter to Three Wives - Lobby Cards
Hangover Square - Lobby Cards

Family & Companions

J Peverell Marley
Husband
Director of photography. Eloped to Las Vegas on April 18, 1942; divorced on February 20, 1951.
Joseph L Mankiewicz
Companion
Director-screenwriter. Had longterm affair while Darnell was married to Marley and Mankiewicz was in second marriage; directed Darnell in "A Letter to Three Wives" and "No Way Out"; she ended relationship when he refused to cast her in 1954's "The Barefoot Contessa".
Philip Liebmann
Husband
Executive. Married in Mexico on February 25, 1954; divorced on December 2, 1955 in Mexico; president of Liebmann Breweries and creator of Miss Rheingold.
Merle Roy Robertson
Husband
Pilot. Married on March 3, 1957 in Riverside, California; divorced on November 23, 1963 after she learned he had impregnated a Yugoslavian actress.

Bibliography

"Hollywood Beauty: Linda Darnell and the American Dream"
Ronald L Davis, University of Oklahoma Press (1991)
"The Decline and Fall of the Love Goddesses"
Patrick Egan, Pinnacle Books (1979)
"The Fox Girls"
James Robert Parish, Arlington House (1971)

Notes

"Let's have some laughs. Let's all stay up and watch 'Stardust'." --Linda Darnell just five hours before the fire that killed her.

Some sources give 1921 as Ms. Darnell's birthyear.

Biography

Linda Darnell was touted by Hollywood wags as "the girl with the perfect face," and for once the description fit. Her cameo-cut china doll face was enough to ensure stardom in glamor-obsessed 1940s Hollywood; surely Darnell could easily fit into the top ten most beautiful women the screen has ever known. And as she matured, her voice deepened into a torchy throb that added intensity to the eventual siren image.

The product of a relentless stage mother, Darnell was a star by age 15 at Fox, where she was a contract player for 14 years. For a while she coasted on her looks alone, playing sweet young things (Selznick chose her to embody the Virgin Mary in 1943's "Song of Bernadette"), before her career took a more interesting turn. Darnell was hampered by being under contract to Fox, which specialized in escapist fare and wasted her for seven unremarkable years.

United Artists cast Darnell on loan-out for a Chekhov adaptation, "Summer Storm" in 1944. She wasn't ready, but the publicity--with Darnell lolling about a la Jane Russell, combined with that face--launched a transformation beyond pin-up to apprentice love goddess. The rest of the decade found her often in interesting roles that displayed her as willful, sometimes venal, smouldering trouble. Memorable portraits in the Darnell catalog include the strangled (and left to burn) music-hall trollop in "Hangover Square" (1945), the floozy waitress of "Fallen Angel" (also 1945, in which she acted circles around reigning studio queen Alice Faye), the ill-fated concubine in "Anna and the King of Siam" (1946, in which Darnell dies prophetically by fire) and "A Letter to Three Wives" (1948, hilariously stealing the show from Jeanne Crain and Ann Sothern).

But Darnell's big bid for superstardom went awry: taking over the starring role in Kathleen Windsor's bodice-ripper "Forever Amber" (1947) when Zanuck bounced Peggy Cummins. The movie received monumental publicity but censorship and the heavy hand of Otto Preminger produced dull results. Her scenes during The Great Fire of London produced a paranoia that caused her director to literally drag her before the cameras. Fire was becoming a lifelong fear.

After "Letter," the parts Darnell was ready for weren't offered to her. She received good notices for "No Way Out" (1950), a race relations drama ahead of its time, but as happened with Rita Hayworth, Hollywood tended to treat mature beauties in nonglamourous roles as if they were finished commercially in the business. The combination of a stormy personal life and alcohol dependence dogged her as she sped through the predictable downward spiral of summer stock, television and cabaret.

In 1965 Darnell was visiting a former secretary in a suburb of Chicago and fell asleep with a lit cigarette after watching a late show of "Star Dust" (1940), wherein she played a young Hollywood hopeful. Her hostess and her daughter escaped the blaze, but Darnell suffered burns over eighty percent of her body. Some accounts had her escaping the fire only to re-enter the house, thinking her friend's daughter had not escaped; others alleged she went back to retrieve her mink coat---the last vestige remaining from her glory days. She died two days later, rallying into consciousness only once, when her adopted daughter, Lola, visited her. Linda Darnell, the woman called "almost too beautiful," left behind an estate of only $10,000, which went to her sixteen-year-old girl. Today Darnell is not remembered as well as many of her less-talented contemporaries, but an examination of her career reveals a gifted beauty whose steamy noir persona made her a tragic, unforgettable entry in Hollywood history.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Black Spurs (1965)
Sadie
The Castilian (1963)
Zero Hour! (1957)
Ellen Stryker
Dakota Incident (1956)
Amy Clarke
Donne Proibite (1956)
This Is My Love (1954)
Vida Dove
Second Chance (1953)
Clare Sheppard, previously known as Clare Sinclair
Island of Desire (1952)
Lt. Elizabeth Smythe
Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952)
Edwina Mansfield
Night Without Sleep (1952)
Julie Bannon
The 13th Letter (1951)
Denise [Turner]
The Lady Pays Off (1951)
Evelyn Walsh Warren
The Guy Who Came Back (1951)
Dee Shane
No Way Out (1950)
Edie Johnson
Two Flags West (1950)
Elena Kenniston
Slattery's Hurricane (1949)
Aggie Hobson
A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
Lora May Finney Hollingsway
Everybody Does It (1949)
Cecil Carver
The Walls of Jericho (1948)
Algeria Wedge
Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
Daphne de Carter
Forever Amber (1947)
Amber [St. Clair]
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Chihuahua
Anna and the King of Siam (1946)
Tuptim
Centennial Summer (1946)
Edith Rogers
Hangover Square (1945)
Netta Longdon
The Great John L. (1945)
Anne Livingstone
Fallen Angel (1945)
Stella
The Song of Bernadette (1945)
The Lady
Sweet and Low-Down (1944)
Trudy Wilson
Summer Storm (1944)
Olga
It Happened Tomorrow (1944)
Sylvia Smith Stevens
Buffalo Bill (1944)
Dawn Starlight
City Without Men (1943)
Nancy Johnson
The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942)
Virginia Clemm [Poe]
Blood and Sand (1941)
Carmen Espinosa
Rise and Shine (1941)
Louise Murray
Brigham Young--Frontiersman (1940)
Zina Webb
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Lolita Quintero
Star Dust (1940)
Carolyn Sayres
Chad Hanna (1940)
Caroline Tridd
Elsa Maxwell's Hotel for Women (1939)
Marcia Bromely
Day-Time Wife (1939)
Jane [Norton]

Cast (Short)

Screen Actors (1950)
Herself

Misc. Crew (Short)

The Costume Designer (1950)
Archival Footage

Life Events

1937

Won regional "Gateway to Hollywood" contest; screen-tested by RKO

1939

Screen acting debut in "Hotel for Women"

1940

Appeared in "Star Dust", loosely based on her own life

1942

Moved out of her parents' home

1944

Loaned out to UA for "Summer Storm"; image change began

1945

New career phase ushered in with release of "Hangover Square" and "Fallen Angel"

1946

Slightly burned while filming scene for "Anna and the King of Siam"

1947

Won role of Amber St. Clair over Lana Turner and 213 others in "Forever Amber"

1948

Had career triumph in "A Letter to Three Wives"

1949

Lost role of "Pinky" to Jeanne Crain

1950

Received strong notices for nonglamorous role in "No Way Out"

1952

Final film for Fox, "Night Without Sleep"

1956

Stage debut in "A Roomful of Roses" in Phoenix, Az.; First appeared in TV dramas; made Broadway debut in "Harbor Lights", which closed after four performances

1959

Learned lines via hypnosis in Chicago, for theater production of "Late Love"

1960

Made nightclub debut at the Town House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1965

Made last film, "Black Spurs", at Paramount

1965

Watched late show of "Star Dust" with friends before falling asleep with lit cigarette (April 9)

Photo Collections

Rise and Shine - Title Lobby Card
Rise and Shine - Title Lobby Card
A Letter to Three Wives - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Fox's A Letter to Three Wives (1949). 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.
Hangover Square - Lobby Cards
Here are a few lobby cards from Fox's Hangover Square (1944), starring Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell, and George Sanders. 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.
Zero Hour! - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Paramount's Zero Hour! (1957), starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and Sterling Hayden. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Second Chance - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from RKO's Second Chance (1953), starring Robert Mitchum and Linda Darnell. 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.
Blood and Sand (1941) - Lobby Cards
Here are several lobby cards from the 1941 version of Blood and Sand, starring Tyrone Power, Rita Hayworth, Linda Darnell and Anthony Quinn. 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.
Star Dust - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release movie posters for Fox's Star Dust (1940), starring Linda Darnell.
Fallen Angel - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release movie posters for Fox's Fallen Angel (1945), starring Dana Andrews, Alice Faye, and Linda Darnell.
My Darling Clementine - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from John Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946), starring Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, and Victor Mature. 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.
Hangover Square - Linda Darnell Publicity Still
Here is a photo of Linda Darnell taken to help publicize Fox's Hangover Square (1945). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Forever Amber (1947) - I Make No Claim On Your Freedom In London to petition king Charles Stuart for privateering ships, noblemen Bruce (Cornel Wilde) and Harry (Richard Greene) are irritated to discover the impetuous Puritan girl they met in the countryside (Linda Darnell, the title character) in their rooms, in the extravagant Technicolor historical melodrama Forever Amber, 1947.
Forever Amber (1947) - Never Lead With The Ace Queen Summoned late at night to Whitehall by the king Charles Stuart (George Sanders), Carlton (Cornel Wilde), with sidekick Harry (Richard Greene), infers that the monarch has chosen to grant him the ships he wants, to keep him away from his own paramour Barbara (Natalie Draper), with whom he plays Piquet, in Otto Preminger’s Forever Amber, 1947.
Forever Amber (1947) - You Didn't Tell Me You Had An Uncle Clever shooting by director Otto Preminger, as Linda Darnell (title character) is now a London actress, pursued by wealthy Radcliffe (Richard Haydn), attended by her fellow former prisoner Nan (Jessica Tandy), thrilled to see old pal Harry (Richard Greene), who upsets her current sponsor Morgan (Glenn Langan), in Forever Amber, 1947.
Forever Amber (1947) - England Is Aflame Producer Darryl Zanuck and director Otto Preminger attempt the rare double-prologue, leading to the rural Puritan household of Leo G. Carroll, and top-billed Linda Darnell as the already rebellious title character, in the multi-million dollar 20th Century-Fox production from the Kathleen Winsor novel, Forever Amber, 1947.
Forever Amber (1947) - Both Alike In Dignity Now in London in her first fancy frock, Amber (Linda Darnell) is now involved with nobleman Bruce (Cornel Wilde), and with pal Harry (Richard Greene) they attend Shakespeare, where they spy Natalie Draper as Barbara, and see an opportunity to solicit King Charles (George Sanders) for ships, and fail badly, in Darryl F. Zanuck’s Forever Amber1947.
Zero Hour! (1957) - Put Stryker On! Sterling Hayden (as "Treleaven") and Dana Andrews (as "Ted Stryker") are giving Lloyd Bridges and Robert Hays (in Airplane, 1980) plenty to work with in the airliner-crisis thriller Zero Hour!, 1957.
Zero Hour! (1957) - That's Not Important Stupendous for fans of Airplane!, 1980, starting in the cabin with Dana Andrews and family, then in the cockpit with Captain Wilson (Elroy Hirsch), Geoffrey Toone (as Dr. Baird) in the Leslie Nielsen role, delivers the landmark line about fish to stewardess Janet (Peggy King) in Zero Hour!, 1957.
Mark Of Zorro, The (1940) - Because I'm Good Looking Texas-born teenager Linda Darnell as "Lolita," comfortable enough in old California, meeting her co-star in their third and biggest consecutive 20th Century Fox hit, Tyrone Power as Diego, also the title character, masquerading as a priest, in The Mark Of Zorro, 1940.
Blood And Sand (1941) - I Want Your Band Returned to Seville after a decade away learning his trade, bullfighter Juan (Tyrone Power) making good on his promise to marry childhood sweetheart Carmen (now grown up and become Linda Darnell) in Blood And Sand, 1941, celebrated guitarist Vicente Gomez in the band.
Fallen Angel (1945) - Jumping In Front Of The Flatbush Subway We’ve just met Dana Andrews, thrown off the bus in a California town when his ticket ran out, as Judd (Charles Bickford) is talking to the counter man and a cop (Percy Kilbride, Hal Talieferro) about some missing gal, who turns out to be Linda Darnell, opening Otto Preminger’s Fallen Angel, 1945.
Fallen Angel (1945) - He Knows What You Like Drifter Eric (Dana Andrews), who's promoting the seance tomorrow night, gets a warning from ex-cop Judd (Charles Bickford), then hits on Stella (Linda Darnell), the main attraction in a small town Californa diner, early in Otto Preminger's Fallen Angel, 1945.
Fallen Angel (1945) - What's In It For Me? Popular small-town California waitress Stella (Linda Darnell) after a date, surprised by drifter Eric (Dana Andrews), who that morning couldn't bring himself to leave town without her, in director Otto Preminger's Fallen Angel, 1945.

Trailer

Family

Pearl Darnell
Mother
Housewife.
Calvin Darnell
Father
Postal clerk.
Undeen Darnell Hunter
Sister
Monte Darnell
Sister
Cal Darnell
Brother
Charlotte Mildred Adams
Daughter
Born on January 5, 1948; adopted in 1948 while Darnell was married to Peverell Marley.
Alfreda Liebmann
Daughter
Adopted late in marriage while Darnell was married to Philip Liebmann; upon divorce Liebmann kept child; Darnell seems never to have acknowledged or mentioned her again.

Companions

J Peverell Marley
Husband
Director of photography. Eloped to Las Vegas on April 18, 1942; divorced on February 20, 1951.
Joseph L Mankiewicz
Companion
Director-screenwriter. Had longterm affair while Darnell was married to Marley and Mankiewicz was in second marriage; directed Darnell in "A Letter to Three Wives" and "No Way Out"; she ended relationship when he refused to cast her in 1954's "The Barefoot Contessa".
Philip Liebmann
Husband
Executive. Married in Mexico on February 25, 1954; divorced on December 2, 1955 in Mexico; president of Liebmann Breweries and creator of Miss Rheingold.
Merle Roy Robertson
Husband
Pilot. Married on March 3, 1957 in Riverside, California; divorced on November 23, 1963 after she learned he had impregnated a Yugoslavian actress.

Bibliography

"Hollywood Beauty: Linda Darnell and the American Dream"
Ronald L Davis, University of Oklahoma Press (1991)
"The Decline and Fall of the Love Goddesses"
Patrick Egan, Pinnacle Books (1979)
"The Fox Girls"
James Robert Parish, Arlington House (1971)

Notes

"Let's have some laughs. Let's all stay up and watch 'Stardust'." --Linda Darnell just five hours before the fire that killed her.

Some sources give 1921 as Ms. Darnell's birthyear.