Peggy Cummins

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Peggy Cummins
Born Augusta Margaret Diane Fuller
(1925-12-18) 18 December 1925 (age 89)
Prestatyn, Denbighshire, Wales
Occupation Actress
Years active 1940 - 1961
Spouse(s) William Herbert Derek Dunnett (m. 1950-2000; his death); 1 son, 1 daughter

Peggy Cummins (born 18 December 1925) is a retired Welsh-born Irish actress, best known for her performance in Joseph H. Lewis' Gun Crazy (1949), playing a trigger-happy femme fatale who robs banks with her lover (played by John Dall).

Early life[edit]

She was born Augusta Margaret Diane Fuller in Prestatyn, Denbighshire, Wales. Her Irish parents were visiting there when a storm kept them from returning to their home in Dublin.[1]

Cummins lived most of her early life in Dublin where she was educated and later in London. Her father was Franklin Bland Fuller (1897–1943) who was a grandson of architect James Franklin Fuller. Her mother was actress Margaret Cummins (1889–1973), who played such film roles as Anna in Smart Woman (1948) and Emily in The Sign of the Ram. In 1938 actor Peter Brock noticed Cummins at a Dublin tram stop and introduced her to Dublin's Gate Theatre Company. Peggy’s London stage debut was in the role of Maryann, the juvenile lead in "Let’s Pretend", a children’s revue which opened at the St James’s Theatre on her 13th birthday. She also appeared on the London stage in 1943 aged 17, playing the part of 12-year-old Fuffy in Junior Miss at the Saville Theatre and in the title role of Alice in Wonderland in 1944 at the Palace Theatre.[1]

Film career[edit]

Cummins made her film debut at 13 in the British production directed by Herbert Mason, Dr. O'Dowd (1940). Her first major film was English Without Tears (1944) with Michael Wilding and Lilli Palmer, directed by Harold French and released in the USA as Her Man Gilbey.

In 1945, Cummins was brought to Hollywood by Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, to play Amber in Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber. She was soon replaced by Linda Darnell because she was "too young." She went on to make six films in Hollywood, including Gun Crazy with John Dall (1949). During a brief stay in Italy in 1948 while filming That Dangerous Age (1949) (also titled If This Be Sin and directed by Gregory Ratoff) with Myrna Loy and Roger Livesey, Cummins took voice lessons to prepare for a possible Hollywood musical.

She returned to London in 1950 to marry and work in British films. In 1952 she starred in Who Goes There! and in 1953 she appeared in Meet Mr. Lucifer, an Ealing Studios comedy. She later starred alongside Dana Andrews in the horror film Night of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur and Hell Drivers (also 1957) which also featured Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan and Herbert Lom. Her last film, in 1961, was Darcy Conyers' In the Doghouse, alongside Leslie Phillips.

Gun Crazy[edit]

In 1998, Gun Crazy (1950) was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Michael Adams wrote in Movieline in August 2009 that the film was "directed by B-movie specialist Joseph H. Lewis from a script co-written by MacKinlay Kantor and blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, "fronted" by his friend Millard Kaufman, Gun Crazy was made for $400,000 in 30 days in 1949.

Movieline found Cummins in 2009, still healthy. "It was a great part", she said of Laurie Starr. "It was a brilliant story from a brilliant writer. We had a very good director and a great cameraman. I think John Dall and myself were in those days quite well-suited in the parts we had." The film played at the British Film Institute in London in February 2009. At the screening, Cummins viewed the film with an audience for the first time in six decades.[citation needed]

Night of the Demon[edit]

On 14 June 2006 she appeared as guest of honour at a special screening of Night of the Demon in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, hosted by the Elstree Film & Television Heritage Group. At the screening, she answered questions from the audience before viewing the film for the first time. She said she had never worked with her co-star Dana Andrews before, though she knew and liked him; they remained friends for the rest of his life. [2]

On 29 August 2013 Cummins introduced the world premiere of a digital remastering of Night of the Demon, screened by the British Film Institute in the courtyard of the British Museum. The screening location features prominently in the film, with shots of the courtyard before a key scene in which the psychologist Holden meets occultist Karswell for the first time in the British Library, which until 1998 was housed within the museum. [3]

On 29 September 2010 Cummins introduced the 1953 film Street Corner as part of the Capital Tales Event at BFI-Southbank London hosted by Curator Jo Botting. She played Bridget Foster in the film written by Muriel and Sydney Box and directed by Muriel Box.

Personal life[edit]

Cummins had several suitors in Hollywood. She briefly dated Howard Hughes, and also future American president John F. Kennedy just before he was elected to his first Congressional seat in 1946.[4] Huntington Hartford also pursued her.

In 1954, she became the First Honorary Commander of the 582d Air Resupply Squadron at RAF Molesworth, England to be designated by the United States Air Force Squadron.[5]

She was married to Derek Dunnett (William Herbert Derek Dunnett) from 1950 until his death in 2000; and had two children with him, a boy, 1954, and a girl, 1962. Her husband, who came from a wealthy family, was born in Epsom, Surrey, England on 9 February 1921 and died in East Sussex, England on 10 July 2000.

Cummins' film career ended in 1961 and she lived in retirement in Hampshire, England. During the 1970s Cummins was very active in a national charity, Stars Organisation for Spastics, raising money and chairing the management committee of a holiday centre for children with disabilities in Sussex. The charity, known as SOS, became an independent registered charity in 2001 and in 2008 changed its name to Stars Foundation for Cerebral Palsy. Cummins is a Trustee of the charity which is run entirely by volunteers and raises funds for communication and mobility aids for people with cerebral palsy. She now lives in London. On 25 January 2013, Cummins was honored at the Noir City Film Festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco with a screening of a restored print of Gun Crazy.[citation needed]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Interview with Louella O. Parsons, St. Petersburg Times, 30 December 1945.
  2. ^ "A Night With a Demon"
  3. ^
  4. ^ Nasaw, David (2012). The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy. New York, NY: The Penguin Press. p. 604. ISBN 9781594203763. 
  5. ^ The Stars and Stripes (newspaper), 3 November 1954

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