Gloria Grahame

Gloria Grahame

from the trailer for The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) Born Gloria Hallward
November 28, 1923(1923-11-28)
Los Angeles, California, U.S. Died October 5, 1981 (aged 57)
New York City, New York, U.S. Occupation Actress Years active 1944–1981 Spouse(s) Stanley Clements (1945–1948)
Nicholas Ray (1948–1952) 1 child
Cy Howard (1954–1957) 1 child
Anthony Ray (1960–1974) 2 children

Gloria Grahame (November 28, 1923 – October 5, 1981) was an American actress.[1]Grahame began her acting career in theatre, and in 1944 she made her first film for MGM. Despite a featured role in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), MGM did not believe she had the potential for major success, and sold her contract to RKO Studios. Often cast in film noir projects, Grahame received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947), and she won this award for her work in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). She achieved her highest profile with Sudden Fear (1952), Human Desire (1953),The Big Heat (1953), and Oklahoma! (1955), but her film career began to wane soon afterwards.She returned to work on the stage, but continued to appear in films and television productions, usually in supporting roles. Diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1980, Grahame refused to accept the diagnosis and travelled to England to work in a play. Her health rapidly failed and she returned to New York City, where she died in 1981.


Grahame was born Gloria Hallward in Los Angeles, California. Reginald Michael Bloxam Hallward, her father, was an architect and author and her mother, Jeanne McDougall, who used the stage name Jean Grahame, was a British stage actress and acting teacher. The couple had another daughter, Joy Hallward (1911-2003), an actress who married the brother of Robert Mitchum. McDougall taught her younger daughter acting during her childhood and adolescence.Grahame was signed to a contract with MGM Studios under her professional name after Louis B. Mayer saw her performing on Broadway for several years.

She made her film debut in Blonde Fever (1944) and scored one of her most widely praised roles as the promiscuous Violet, who is saved from disgrace by George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). MGM was not able to develop her potential as a star and her contract was sold to RKO Studios in 1947.Grahame was often featured in film noir pictures as a tarnished beauty with an irresistible sexual allure. During this time, she made films for several Hollywood studios. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947).

in her Academy Award winning role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)Grahame starred with Humphrey Bogart in the 1950 film In a Lonely Place, a performance which garnered her considerable praise. Though today it is considered among her finest performances, it wasn’t a box-office hit and Howard Hughes, owner of RKO Studios, admitted that he never saw it. When she asked to be loaned out for roles in Born Yesterday and A Place in the Sun, Hughes refused and instead made her do a supporting role in Macao. However, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in MGM’s The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).Other memorable roles included the scheming Irene Nieves in Sudden Fear (1952), the femme fatale Vicki Buckley in Human Desire (1953), and mob moll Debby Marsh in Fritz Lang‘s The Big Heat (1953) in which, in a horrifying scene, she is scarred by hot coffee thrown in her face offscreen by Lee Marvin‘s character.Grahame’s career began to wane after her performance in the musical movie Oklahoma! (1955). Grahame, whom audiences were used to seeing as a film noir siren, was miscast as an ignorant country lass in a wholesome musical, and the paralysis of her upper lip from plastic surgery altered her speech and appearance. She began a slow return to the theater, and returned to films occasionally to play supporting roles, mostly in minor releases. She appeared on television too, including an episode of the ABC sitcom, Harrigan and Son, starring Pat O’Brien.Grahame has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures, at 6522 Hollywood Boulevard.

Grahame had a string of stormy romances and failed marriages during her time in Hollywood, including marriages to director Nicholas Ray and later to Ray’s son, whom she had an affair with while still married to Ray. All of this took a toll on her career, as did a two-year hiatus taken after the birth of her daughter in 1956.[2] Marital and child custody problems hampered her performance on the set of Oklahoma! Additionally, the actress’s concern over the appearance of her upper lip led her to pursue plastic surgery and dental operations that caused visible scarring and ultimately rendered the lip largely immobile due to nerve damage, which affected her speech.[3]She married:

  • Stanley Clements (1926-1981), actor, married August 1945, divorced 1 June 1948.[4][5]
  • Nicholas Ray, director, married 1 June 1948, separated 1951, divorced 1952. The couple had one child, Timothy (born November 1948, aka David Cyrus Howard during his mother’s third marriage).[2][6] Their marriage ended when Ray found Grahame in bed with his 13 year old son by his first marriage, Anthony, whom she later married.[3][7][8]
  • Cy Howard, writer, married 1954, divorced 1957. They had one daughter, Marianna Paulette (born 1956).
  • Anthony Ray, her former stepson, married May 1960, divorced 1974. The Rays had two sons, Anthony Jr (born 1963) and James (born 1965).

In the late 1970s, Grahame travelled to England, perform
g plays, and there she met Liverpool actor Peter Turner with whom she had a romantic relationship. They moved to the USA and lived in New York and California, where their affair ended. Turner moved back to England.

In 1980, Grahame was diagnosed with stomach cancer but she refused surgery, insisting that she did not have cancer. In 1981, she traveled to England to perform in a play. While in England, she had fluid from her stomach drained, which resulted in a perforated bowel. This became apparent after she collapsed during a rehearsal for the play.Peter Turner heard the news that Grahame was ill and staying in a hotel in Lancaster, England. Turner, accompanied by members of his family, collected her from the hotel and took her to his family home in Aigburth, Liverpool, where he and his family nursed her until some of her children arrived to take her back to New York where she died at the age of 57.She is interred in Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California, as Gloria H Grahame.

  • Vincent Curcio, Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1989)
  • Peter Turner, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (New York: Grove Press, 1987)

Year Film Role Notes
1944 Blonde Fever Sally Murfin
1945 Without Love Flower girl
1946 It’s a Wonderful Life Violet Bick
1947 It Happened in Brooklyn Nurse
Crossfire Ginny Tremaine Nominated – Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Song of the Thin Man Fran Ledue Page
Merton of the Movies Beulah Baxter
1949 A Woman’s Secret Susan Caldwell aka Estrellita
Roughshod Mary Wells
1950 In a Lonely Place Laurel Gray
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth Angel
Macao Margie
Sudden Fear Irene Neves
The Bad and the Beautiful Rosemary Bartlow Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Golden Globe
1953 The Glass Wall Maggie Summers
Man on a Tightrope Zama Cernik
The Big Heat Debby Marsh
Prisoners of the Casbah Princess Nadja aka Yasmin
1954 Human Desire Vicki Buckley
Naked Alibi Marianna
The Good Die Young Denise Blaine
1955 The Cobweb Karen McIver
Not as a Stranger Harriet Lang
Oklahoma! Ado Annie Carnes
1956 The Man Who Never Was Lucy Sherwood
1957 Ride Out for Revenge Amy Porter
1959 Odds Against Tomorrow Helen
1966 Ride Beyond Vengeance Bonnie Shelley
1971 Blood and Lace Mrs. Deere
The Todd Killings Mrs. Roy
Chandler Selma
1972 The Loners Annabelle
1973 Tarot Angela
1974 Mama’s Dirty Girls Mama Love
1976 Mansion of the Doomed Katherine
1979 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square Ma Fox
Head Over Heels Clara
1980 Melvin and Howard Mrs. Sisk
1982 The Nesting Florinda Costello

  • ^ Obituary Variety, October 14, 1981.
  • ^ a b Dorothy Roe, Gloria Quits Films To Star as Mother, The Milwaukee Sentinel, 7 April 1959
  • ^ a b Vincent Curcio, Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame, William Morrow, 1989
  • ^
  • ^
  • ^ Vincent Curcio, Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame, William Morrow, 1989, page 101
  • ^ Live Fast, Die Young. Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  • ^ Nicholas Ray and Susan Ray, I Was Interrupted, University of California Press, 1995, page xliii.
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