Promotional photo of Martha Hyer
August 10, 1924|
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
|Died||May 31, 2014
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||C. Ray Stahl
Hal B. Wallis
(m.1966-1986; his death)
Martha Hyer (August 10, 1924 – May 31, 2014) was an American actress. She is best remembered for her role as Gwen French in Some Came Running (1958), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her autobiography, Finding My Way: A Hollywood Memoir, was published in 1990.
Hyer was born in Fort Worth, Texas into a wealthy family, the daughter of Julien Capers Hyer (1894-1974), an attorney and judge, and Agnes Rebecca (née Barnhart; 1892-1969). She was the middle of two sisters, with Agnes Ann (1920-2014) and Jeanne (b.1928). The Hyers were active in the Methodist church where her father was a highly respected Sunday school teacher. Hyer graduated from Arlington Heights High School and then from Northwestern University with a degree in drama. She was in the sorority Pi Beta Phi with Patricia Neal. She then moved to California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse, and soon after was signed to a film contract with RKO. She was married twice, first to producer C. Ray Stahl and later to producer Hal B. Wallis. Wallis and Hyer remained together until his death in 1986. At Northwestern University there is a theatre there named The Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Blackbox. She had no children.
Film and television
Her first film appearance was an uncredited speaking part in The Locket (1946). She appeared in uncredited and bit roles in B-movies for the next few years, occasionally working on television as well. Eventually she moved up the ranks, and starting in 1954, began receiving better roles, becoming a popular actress in Hollywood for the next decade.
Hyer had a supporting role in the drama So Big (1953), which stars Jane Wyman and was directed by Robert Wise. She followed this with westerns, Wyoming Renegades (1954) and The Battle of Rogue River (1954), and a musical comedy, Lucky Me (1954), which stars Doris Day.
She then played Elizabeth Tyson, a socialite who loses her fiancée (William Holden) to Audrey Hepburn, in the Oscar-winning film, Sabrina (1954). She next starred opposite Donald O'Connor in the comedy Francis in the Navy (1955) and in a 1956 televised version of Jezebel for Lux Video Theatre in which she played the lead role of Julie.
She had supporting roles in the war-drama Battle Hymn (1957) with Rock Hudson and in the drama Mister Cory (1957) with Tony Curtis, directed by Blake Edwards. She also appeared in Kelly and Me, a comedy with Van Johnson, and as Cordelia Bullock in the 1957 remake of My Man Godfrey with David Niven. In 1958, Hyer appeared in a Playhouse 90 televised version of Reunion by Merle Miller, with Frances Farmer.
Hyer next appeared in Paris Holiday (1958), a comedy with Bob Hope and Houseboat (1958), an Oscar-nominated film starring Cary Grant. For the 1958 drama film Some Came Running, which was directed by Vincente Minnelli and stars Frank Sinatra, Hyer was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Hyer started the 60s with a supporting role in Ice Palace (1960) a drama with Richard Burton and The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961), a comedy with Robert Mitchum. Next she was in A Girl Named Tamiko (1962) with Laurence Harvey, the Oscar-nominated film Wives and Lovers, and The Carpetbaggers (1964).
By 1964, Hyer had turned 40 and after a decade of success, she began having trouble finding good roles and worked mainly in television and in some European and American B-Films. She did appear in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, (A Piece Of Action in 1962 and Crimson Witness in 1965). Also in 1965, she was in The Sons of Katie Elder, a western with John Wayne, and she guest-starred on the television series Bewitched as 'Margaret Marshall', a wealthy seductive woman. In 1966, she was in The Chase, which stars Marlon Brando and was directed by Arthur Penn and she also guest-starred on The Beverly Hillbillies in the episode The Richest Woman, in which she plays 'Tracy Richards', the worlds richest woman. In 1967, she starred in the drama Some May Live.
Retirement and death
- The Locket (1946)
- The Velvet Touch (1948)
- Gun Smugglers (1948)
- Rustlers (1949)
- The Clay Pigeon (1949)
- The Lawless (1950)
- Oriental Evil (1951)
- Yukon Gold (1952)
- So Big (1953)
- Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953)
- Riders to the Stars (1954)
- The Battle of Rogue River (1954)
- Sabrina (1954)
- Lucky Me (1954)
- Wyoming Renegades (1954)
- Francis in the Navy (1955)
- The Delicate Delinquent (1956)
- Red Sundown (1956)
- Mister Cory (1957)
- My Man Godfrey (1957)
- Battle Hymn (1957)
- Houseboat (1958)
- Paris Holiday (1958)
- Some Came Running (1958)
- The Big Fisherman (1959)
- The Best of Everything (1959)
- Ice Palace (1960)
- The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961)
- The Man from the Diner's Club (1963)
- Pyro (1964)
- First Men in the Moon (1964)
- Bikini Beach (1964)
- The Carpetbaggers (1964)
- The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
- The Night of the Grizzly (1966)
- Picture Mommy Dead (1966)
- The House of 1,000 Dolls (1967)
- The Happening (1967)
- Some May Live (1967)
- Catch As Catch Can (1967)
- Crossplot (1969)
- Day of the Wolves (1971)
- Wallis, Martha Hyer (1990). Finding My Way. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-250938-1.
- http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?pid=170423993 accessed 8/21/14
- http://www.fwisd.org/pages/FWISD/News/Oscar-Nominated_Actress_from_F accessed 8/21/14
- http://www.communication.northwestern.edu/programs/mfa_stage_design/opportunities.php accessed 8/21/14
- https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KSBG-6DP accessed 8/21/14
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&dat=19560708&id=yQQrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5JcFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4833,2794055 accessed 8/21/14
- "Old-Hollywood actress Martha Hyer dies". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
- http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/jun/11/martha-hyer accessed 8/21/14
- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/martha-hyer-actress-best-known-for-her-oscarnominated-role-as-the-uptight-teacher-in-the-melodrama-some-came-running-9566614.html accessed 8/21/14
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Martha Hyer.|
- Martha Hyer at the Internet Movie Database
- Martha Hyer at the TCM Movie Database
- Martha Hyer at AllMovie