Gloria Grahame


Actor
Gloria Grahame

About

Also Known As
Gloria Grahame Hallward, Gloria Hallward
Birth Place
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born
November 28, 1923
Died
October 05, 1981
Cause of Death
Cancer

Biography

Gloria Grahame electrified moviegoers with her turns as femmes fatale in such films as "Crossfire" (1947), "In a Lonely Place" (1950) and "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952), which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Her women were dangerous, without question, and potentially lethal if cornered, like her mob moll in "The Big Heat" (1953), who lurked through the film's shadowy unde...

Photos & Videos

Crossfire - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Crossfire - Gloria Grahame Publicity Still
Blonde Fever - Lobby Card Set

Family & Companions

Stanley Clements
Husband
Actor. Married in August 1945; divorced in June 1948.
Nicholas Ray
Husband
Director. Married in June 1948; divorced in August 1952.
Cy Howard
Husband
Writer, director. Married in August 1954; divorced in October 1957.
Anthony Ray
Husband
Actor. Married in May 1960; divorced in 1976; son of Nicholas Ray by a previous marriage.

Biography

Gloria Grahame electrified moviegoers with her turns as femmes fatale in such films as "Crossfire" (1947), "In a Lonely Place" (1950) and "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952), which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Her women were dangerous, without question, and potentially lethal if cornered, like her mob moll in "The Big Heat" (1953), who lurked through the film's shadowy underworld on a hell-bent mission to avenge her disfigurement by Lee Marvin. She continued to appear on TV and in features as the years went on, but her career was cut short in 1980 when she was felled by stomach cancer. But the best of her screen roles continued to burn on late-night TV and in revival houses, where her incendiary presence had lost none of its power to entrance - or to burn.

She was born Gloria Hallward in Los Angeles on Nov. 28, 1923, the daughter of architect and author Reginald Hallward and actress Jeanne McDougall, who performed under the name Jean Grahame. Her mother was also her acting coach, and Grahame began performing while still an adolescent before eventually graduating to Broadway. Even at this early age, critics made note of her earthy sexuality, which may have caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer. The MGM chief signed her to a contract that kicked off with the lightweight comedy "Blonde Fever" (1944), which featured Grahame as a gold-digging waitress on the make for lottery winner Philip Dorn. Though unquestionably forgettable, her turn as Sally Murfin, whose curvaceous figure and blithe cluelessness blinded men from her predatory nature, would establish the tone for the majority of her screen roles. She cemented her screen presence with her turn as hapless good time girl Violet Bick, whom James Stewart's George Bailey saved from a disgraceful fate, in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" (1945). Despite its success, Grahame's stay in the MGM stable was short-lived. By 1947, her contract was sold to RKO, where she landed a small but noteworthy part in the B-thriller "Crossfire" (1947), starring Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan. Her performance, as an embittered dance hall girl who witnessed a murder, impressed audiences and earned her an Academy Award nomination. She lost the Oscar to Celeste Holm, but her status as one of the sultriest stars of film noir was now established. In 1948, she was cast as a neurotic singer allegedly shot by her Svengali-like coaches in director Nicholas Ray's "A Woman's Secret" (1948).

Ray became her second husband that year on the same day her divorce to actor Stanley Clements was finalized. He directed her in one of her most acclaimed films, 1950's "In a Lonely Place," as an aspiring actress whose wounded self-esteem stranded her in a tumultuous relationship with emotionally unstable screenwriter Humphrey Bogart. In real life, Grahame's self image was also fraught with anxiety. She disliked her looks, especially her mouth, and endured so many plastic surgeries on her upper lip that it was left paralyzed. To compensate for the disfigurement, she stuffed her lip with cotton or tissue, which left many a leading man confused after an onscreen clinch. Grahame also had a reputation for being "difficult," a catch-all phrase used by gossip columnists and PR flacks to describe a wide panoply of behaviors, from confidence to outright anti-social behavior. Unfortunately for Grahame, the label stuck, thanks to a combination of her movie image, clashes with co-stars like Bogart, and the scandalous end of her marriage to Ray in 1951. She was discovered by her husband in bed with her stepson, Anthony Ray, who was only 13 at the time. At the time, the married couple was completing a glossy noir-adventure, "Macao" (1952), with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, for producer Howard Hughes, which she handily stole as a brazen gangster's moll.

She rebounded from the scandal with Vicente Minnelli's "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952), a juicy Hollywood roman a clef with Grahame as harried screenwriter Dick Powell's wife, whose effortless sexiness prevented him from completing the latest blockbuster for producer Kirk Douglas. She quickly followed this with equally compelling turns in "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952) as a former bad girl-turned-circus performer, whose carnal past nearly cost her a chance at redemption with big top manager Charlton Heston. Grahame was soon back on the dark side in "Sudden Fear" (1952) as the scheming, hot-blooded ex-girlfriend to Jack Palance's psychopath in sheep's clothing. All four films netted her rave reviews, but it was "The Bad and the Beautiful" that landed her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. It did not, however, improve her public image; she stumbled on her way to the dais at the award show, and her disheveled appearance, due in part to the grueling schedule of her next picture, Fritz Lang's "The Big Heat" (1953), prompted rumors that she was drunk. Additional stories swirled in the tabloids about her alleged disinterest in her Oscar, which she attempted to dispel in interviews, to no avail.

Though a demanding shoot, "The Big Heat" presented Grahame with her last great screen role: the acid-tongued, narcissistic girlfriend of vicious mob gunsel Lee Marvin, who infamously tossed a pot of boiling coffee in her face, leaving her hideously disfigured. Her performance, alternately monstrous and pitiable, was one of the most indelible of the film noir canon, and for most viewers, the one for which Grahame was best known. She would continue to mine the vein of the tragic wanton in several films, including Lang's "Human Desire" (1954), a remake of Jean Renoir's "Le Bete Humaine" (1938), and "Naked Alibi" (1954), to diminishing returns. Grahame's face and figure had changed since her film debut, with the plastic surgery adding a heavy lisp to her speaking voice, so she was no longer convincing as a youthful sexpot.

She attempted a drastic image change with 1955's "Oklahoma!" in which she was cast as Ado Annie. The film was more than a departure for Grahame than a complete left-field choice, as she had no singing voice to speak of, which required her key number, "I Cain't Say No," to be sung one note at a time and then reconstructed by the music editors. Grahame was also undergoing a traumatic divorce from director Cy Howard, as well as a custody struggle with Nicholas Ray for their son, Timothy, and the stress spilled over into her work in the film. She reportedly refused to learn her dance numbers and repeatedly upstaged other cast members. After physically attacking co-star Gene Nelson, she was declared persona non grata by her fellow actors, and word of her behavior soon spread throughout Hollywood. She would enjoy one last notable role as a semi-masochistic woman who fell for racist crook Robert Ryan in "Odds Against Tomorrow" (1959). The following year, she outdid her own previous scandal record by marrying Anthony Ray, her former stepson-in-law, in 1960. She bore him sons in 1963 and 1965.

Grahame worked steadily in television throughout the 1960s before disappearing for a period at the end of the decade, during which she was rumored to have suffered a breakdown and spent time in an institution. She resurfaced in the early 1970s in a string of TV movies and low-budget features, including the grisly "Blood and Lace" (1971) and "Mama's Dirty Girls" (1974). After divorcing Anthony Ray in 1974, she rebounded, after a fashion, with a trio of turns as unstable older women in "Chilly Scenes of Winter" (1979), "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square" (1979) and "Melvin and Howard" (1980), with the latter merely a glorified cameo. In her final years, she performed the classics in regional theater before learning that she had stomach cancer in 1980. Grahame refused to stop working, but suffered a collapse during rehearsal of a play in London. While undergoing a routine operation to drain fluids from an inoperable tumor in her stomach, her surgeon accidentally perforated her bowl. Peritonitis set in, and she was flown home to New York by her romantic companion, actor Peter Turner. After several agonizing days, Grahame died on Oct. 5, 1981 at the age of 57.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Mama's Dirty Girls (1988)
The Nesting (1981)
Florinda Costello
Melvin and Howard (1980)
Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979)
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (1979)
The Terror of Dr. Chancey (1975)
Katherine
The Girl on the Late, Late Show (1974)
The Loners (1972)
Annabelle [Carter]
Tarots (1972)
Chandler (1971)
Selma
Blood and Lace (1971)
Mrs. Deere
The Todd Killings (1971)
Mrs. Roy
Escape (1971)
Evelyn Harrison
Black Noon (1971)
Alex in Wonderland (1970)
Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966)
Bonnie Shelley
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)
Helen
Ride Out for Revenge (1957)
Amy Porter
The Man Who Never Was (1956)
Lucy Sherwood
The Cobweb (1955)
Karen McIver
Not As a Stranger (1955)
Harriet [Lang]
Oklahoma! (1955)
Ado Annie [Carnes]
Human Desire (1954)
Vicki Buckley
Naked Alibi (1954)
Marianna
The Good Die Young (1954)
Denise
Prisoners of the Casbah (1953)
Princess Nadja, also known as Yasmin
Man on a Tightrope (1953)
Zama Cernik
The Glass Wall (1953)
Maggie [Summers]
The Big Heat (1953)
Debby Marsh
The Bad and the Beautiful (1953)
Rosemary [Bartlow]
Macao (1952)
Margie
Sudden Fear (1952)
Irene Nevis
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Angel, the Elephant Girl
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Laurel Gray
Roughshod (1949)
Mary [Wells]
A Woman's Secret (1949)
Susan Caldwell [also known as Estrellita]
Song of the Thin Man (1947)
Fran Ledue Page
Merton of the Movies (1947)
Beulah Baxter
Crossfire (1947)
Ginny [Tremaine]
It Happened in Brooklyn (1947)
Nurse
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Violet [Bick]
Without Love (1945)
Flower girl
Blonde Fever (1945)
Sally Murfin

Cast (Short)

Hollywood Premiere of A Star is Born (1954)
Herself

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Seventh Avenue (1977)
Moll
Rich Man, Poor Man (1975)

Life Events

1934

Stage debut at the Pasadena Playhouse

1943

Broadway debut

1944

Signed to MGM; film debut

1947

Played breakthrough role in "Crossfire"

Photo Collections

Crossfire - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken during production of RKO's Crossfire (1947), directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Gloria Grahame, and Robert Ryan.
Crossfire - Gloria Grahame Publicity Still
Here is a photo of Gloria Grahame, taken to help publicize Crossfire (1947).
Blonde Fever - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from MGM's Blonde Fever (1944), starring Philip Dorn, Mary Astor, and Gloria Grahame. 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.
The Big Heat - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release American movie posters from Columbia Pictures' The Big Heat (1953), directed by Fritz Lang and starring Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame.
The Bad and the Beautiful - Gloria Grahame Publicity Stills
Here are several photos of Gloria Grahame taken to help publicize MGM's The Bad and the Beautiful (1953). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
A Woman's Secret - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from A Woman's Secret (1949), starring Gloria Grahame and Melvyn Douglas. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Crossfire (1947) - Used To Be A Spaghetti Restaurant Joining his flashback as he's testifying for the cops, murder suspect soldier Mitchell (George Cooper) is recounting his visit with somewhat soft-hearted taxi dancer Ginny (Gloria Grahame) in Edward Dmytryk's military mystery Crossfire, 1947.
Crossfire (1947) - Open, Murder Dark and dramatic opening to Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire, 1947, starring Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame, from a novel by Richard Brooks.
Woman's Secret, A (1949) - Songs Of Estrellita The prominent movie music director Constantin Bakaleinikoff appears, directing a radio orchestra, as director Nicholas Ray introduces his leading ladies, Susan (Gloria Grahame) and Marian (Maureen O'Hara), opening A Woman's Secret, 1949, from a Vicki Baum novel.
Woman's Secret, A (1949) - Smudge Pots And Pest Control Having just learned that her own voice won't recover, singer Marian (Maureen O'Hara) and composer Luke (Melvyn Douglas) meet kooky shopgirl and aspiring singer Susan (Gloria Grahame), all in flashback, in Nicholas Ray's A Woman's Secret, 1949.
It Happened In Brooklyn (1947) - Whose Baby Are You? Frank Sinatra is depressed soldier Danny, about to ship home from England, exhorted by a brassy Army nurse (Gloria Grahame) to join the party, and meeting English Jamie (Peter Lawford, his future Rat Pack pal, for their first movie scene together) for a Sammy Cahn-Jule Styne tune, early in It Happened In Brooklyn, 1947.
Man On A Tightrope (1953) - Czechoslovakia, 1952 Opening with noise and some scale, shooting on location in Bavaria, Germany, director Elia Kazan introduces leading man Fredric March as circus boss Cernik, Gloria Grahame his wife, Paul Hartman his aide, Terry Moore his daughter, Cameron Mitchell her friend, in the feature Kazan made after Viva Zapata! but before On The Waterfront, Man On A Tightrope, 1953.
Man On A Tightrope (1953) - Show Your Teeth! Ever-interesting work by director Elia Kazan, Gloria Grahame as the maybe-straying circus manager’s wife Zama, determined to flirt with the worried lion tamer (Alex D’Arcy), then another relationship emphasizing idyllic Bavarian locations, with the manager’s daughter Terry Moore and boyfriend Cameron Mitchell, in Man On A Tightrope, 1953.
Cobweb, The (1955) - Sprung Up Like A Toadstool! Gloria Grahame as Karen, lonely wife of one doctor at the psychiatric clinic, on the phone from a local concert with administrator Vicky (Lillian Gish) fighting about drapes, then sharing with her husband’s suave French senior colleague “Dev” (Charles Boyer), in Vincente Minnelli’s The Cobweb, 1955.
Roughshod (1949) - Puttin' Up Fences And Passin' Laws Homesteader Jed (Jeff Corey) discovers three drovers murdered by escaped convicts in the opening, bringing them to Aspen, Nevada, when he meets the ladies (Gloria Grahame as Mary, leading Myrna Dell, Martha Hyer, and Jeff Donnell as Elaine) headed for Sonora, early in Roughshod, 1949, starring Robert Sterling.
Roughshod (1949) - I'm Not In His Shoes Rancher Clay (Robert Sterling) and kid brother Steve (Claude Jarman Jr.) are standing guard when Clayton (George Cooper) rides up, looking to rescue Marcia (Martha Hyer), one of the working girls (Gloria Grahame as Mary, with Myrna Dell and Jeff Donnell) they’re escorting to safety, in director Mark Robson’s Roughshod, 1949.
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) - He Dared Me Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) -- (Movie Clip) He Dared Me
Song Of The Thin Man (1947) - Right Down To Their Fingerprints At a charity event on a gambling boat anchored off New York, we join Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell, Myrna Loy) observing bandleader Philip Reed, soloist Don Taylor, sideman Keenan Wynn, Gloria Grahame the sexy singer, and Bruce Cowling who owns the joint, exposition early in Song Of The Thin Man, 1947.

Trailer

Greatest Show On Earth, The - (Original Trailer) Cecil B. DeMille won his one Academy Award® for Best Picture for the circus drama The Greatest Show On Earth (1952).
Blonde Fever - (Original Trailer) A woman fights to save her husband after he gets Blonde Fever (1945) with a young Gloria Grahame as the Blonde.
Alex in Wonderland - (Original Trailer) A young director (Donald Sutherland) can't decide on his next project, so he calls in Fellini in Paul Mazursky's Alex in Wonderland (1970).
Macao -- (Original Trailer) The original theatrical trailer for Macao, 1952, in which Josef von Sternberg, the director of The Blue Angel (1930), tried his hand at a film noir mystery, with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell.
Song Of The Thin Man -- (Original Trailer) Society sleuths Nick and Nora Charles investigate a murder in a jazz club in the last of the "Thin Man" series, Song Of The Thin Man (1947).
Crossfire - (Original Trailer) When a Jewish man is murdered, a homicide detective suspects a hate crime in Crossfire (1947) starring Robert Ryan in one of his best performances.
Without Love -- (Original Trailer) A World War II housing shortage inspires a widow to propose a marriage of convenience with an inventor in Without Love (1945) with Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy.
Merton of the Movies - (Original Trailer) Red Skelton plays a star-struck hick who goes to Hollywood to become a star in the silent cinema in Merton of the Movies (1947).
It Happened in Brooklyn - (Original Trailer) A returning GI and his friends try to make it in the music business in It Happened in Brooklyn (1947), starring Frank Sinatra.
Big Heat, The - (Re-issue trailer) Police detective Glenn Ford teams with gangster's moll Gloria Grahame after his wife is murdered by the mob in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953).

Family

Michael Hallward
Father
Architect.
Jean Grahame
Mother
Actor, acting teacher.

Companions

Stanley Clements
Husband
Actor. Married in August 1945; divorced in June 1948.
Nicholas Ray
Husband
Director. Married in June 1948; divorced in August 1952.
Cy Howard
Husband
Writer, director. Married in August 1954; divorced in October 1957.
Anthony Ray
Husband
Actor. Married in May 1960; divorced in 1976; son of Nicholas Ray by a previous marriage.

Bibliography