Gloria Grahame

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Gloria Grahame
Gloria Grahame-still 1947.JPG
Born Gloria Hallward
(1923-11-28)November 28, 1923
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died October 5, 1981(1981-10-05) (aged 57)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
Peritonitis and breast cancer
Resting place
Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation Actress
Years active 1944–1981
Spouse(s) Stanley Clements (1945–1948)
Nicholas Ray (1948–1952)
Cy Howard (1954–1957)
Anthony Ray (1960–1974)
Children Timothy Ray (b. 1948)
Marianna Paulette Howard (b. 1956)
Anthony Ray Jr. (b. 1963)
James Ray (b. 1965)

Gloria Grahame (November 28, 1923 – October 5, 1981) was an American stage, film and television 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. In 1974, Grahame was diagnosed with breast cancer. It went into remission less than a year later and Grahame returned to work. It returned in 1980 but she refused to accept the diagnosis or seek treatment. She chose to continue working and travelled to England to appear in a play. Her health rapidly declined. She developed peritonitis after undergoing a procedure to remove fluid from her abdomen in September 1981. She returned to New York City, where she died in October 1981.

Early life[edit]

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. McDougall taught her younger daughter acting during her childhood and adolescence. The couple had another daughter, Joy Hallward (1911–2003), an actress who married John Mitchum (the younger brother of actor Robert Mitchum).

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 then scored one of her most widely praised roles as the promiscuous Violet, 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).

Grahame starred with Humphrey Bogart in the film In a Lonely Place (1950), a performance for which she gained 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).

in her Academy Award–winning role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

Other memorable roles included the scheming Irene Nieves in Sudden Fear (also 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 off-screen scene, she is scarred by hot coffee thrown in her face by Lee Marvin's character.

Grahame's career began to wane after her performance in the musical film Oklahoma! (1955). Grahame, whom audiences were used to seeing as a film noir siren, was viewed by some critics to be 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. Additionally, Grahame was rumored to have been difficult on the set of Oklahoma!, upstaging some of the cast and alienating her co-stars, which furthered her fall from grace in Hollywood.[2] She began a slow return to the theater, and returned to films occasionally to play supporting roles, mostly in minor releases.

She also guest starred on television series including an episode of the gothic sci-fi series The Outer Limits. In the episode entitled "The Guests", Grahame spoofed her own career by playing a forgotten film star living in the past. She also appeared an episode of The Fugitive TV series ("The Homecoming", 1964) and an episode of Burke's Law ("Who Killed The Rabbit's Husband", 1965).

The play The Time of Your Life was revived in March 17, 1972 at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles with Grahame, Henry Fonda, Richard Dreyfuss, Lewis J. Stadlen, Ron Thompson, Jane Alexander, Richard X. Slattery and Pepper Martin among the cast with Edwin Sherin directing.[3]

Grahame has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6522 Hollywood Boulevard for her contribution to Motion Pictures.

Personal life[edit]

Grahame'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 because of nerve damage, which affected her speech.[4][page needed]

Relationships, marriages and children[edit]

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, Anthony, with whom she had an affair while still married to Ray. All of this took a toll on her career, as did a two-year hiatus after the birth of her daughter in 1956.[5] Marital and child custody problems hampered her performance on the set of Oklahoma!

She married:

  • Stanley Clements (1926–1981), actor, married August 1945, divorced June 1, 1948.[6]
  • Nicholas Ray, director, married June 1, 1948, separated 1951, divorced 1952. The couple had one child, Timothy (born November 1948, aka David Cyrus Howard during his mother's third marriage).[5][7] Their marriage ended when Ray found Grahame in bed with his 13-year-old son by his first marriage, Anthony, whom she later married.
  • 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 traveled to England to perform in plays. While there, she met Liverpool actor Peter Turner with whom she had a romantic relationship. They moved to the United States and lived in New York and California, where their affair ended. Turner subsequently returned to England.


In March 1974, Grahame was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent radiation treatment, changed her diet, stopped smoking and drinking alcohol and also sought homeopathic remedies. In less than a year, the cancer went into remission.[8] The cancer returned in 1980, but Grahame refused to acknowledge her diagnosis or seek radiation treatment. Despite her failing health, Grahame continued working in stage productions in the United States and Great Britain. While working in London in September 1981, she underwent treatment to remove excess fluid from her abdomen. During the procedure, the doctor accidentally punctured her bowel. She soon developed peritonitis and was hospitalized. After being notified of Grahame's illness, two of her children, Timothy and Paulette, traveled to London and decided to take her back to the United States.[9]

On October 5, 1981, Grahame returned to United States where she was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City. She died there a few hours later at the age of 57.[9] She is interred in Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California, as Gloria H. Grahame. Her first husband, actor Stanley Clements died 11 days after Gloria in October 16, 1981.


Year Title 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
1947 Crossfire Ginny Tremaine Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1947 Song of the Thin Man Fran Ledue Page
1947 Merton of the Movies Beulah Baxter
1949 A Woman's Secret Susan Caldwell aka Estrellita
1949 Roughshod Mary Wells
1950 In a Lonely Place Laurel Gray
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth Angel
1952 Macao Margie
1952 Sudden Fear Irene Neves
1952 The Bad and the Beautiful Rosemary Bartlow Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1953 The Glass Wall Maggie Summers
1953 Man on a Tightrope Zama Cernik
1953 The Big Heat Debby Marsh
1953 Prisoners of the Casbah Princess Nadja aka Yasmin
1954 Human Desire Vicki Buckley
1954 Naked Alibi Marianna
1954 The Good Die Young Denise Blaine
1955 The Cobweb Karen McIver
1955 Not as a Stranger Harriet Lang
1955 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
1971 The Todd Killings Mrs. Roy
1971 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
1979 Head Over Heels Clara
1980 Melvin and Howard Mrs. Sisk
1982 The Nesting Florinda Costello


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, October 14, 1981.
  2. ^ Landazuri, Margarita. "Oklahoma! (1955)". Retrieved December 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Hollywood Beat". The Afro American. 1972-04-08. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  4. ^ Vincent Curcio, Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame, William Morrow, 1989
  5. ^ a b Dorothy Roe, Gloria Quits Films To Star as Mother, The Milwaukee Sentinel, 7 April 1959
  6. ^ On This Day in History: July 16 - Just Right for Brooklyn Wiseguy Parts
  7. ^ (Curcio 1989, p. 101)
  8. ^ (Lentz 2011, p. 247)
  9. ^ a b (Lentz 2011, p. 317)


  • Curcio, Vincent (1989). Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame (1st ed.). William Morrow & Co. ISBN 0-688-06718-2
  • Lentz, Robert J. (2011). Gloria Grahame, Bad Girl of Film Noir: The Complete Career. Mcfarland & Co Inc Pub. ISBN 0-786-43483-X

Further reading[edit]

  • Peter Turner, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (New York: Grove Press, 1987)

External links[edit]