As Peggy Van Alden in Jailhouse Rock (1957)
|Born||Judith Mae Hess
October 9, 1932
|Died||July 3, 1957
near Rock River, Wyoming
Early life and career
Born Judith Mae Hess in Milwaukee, she came from a show business family and was encouraged to study dance and acting. Her acting career began as a teenager with regular appearances on Howdy Doody as Princess Summerfall Winterspring from 1950 to 1953.
Like her mother, she became a chorus girl, but then went on to land a starring role in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Pipe Dream. Life did a story on rising Broadway talent with Tyler on the magazine's cover as one of the up-and-coming stars. She lived with her parents in Teaneck, New Jersey when appearing on Howdy Doody and Broadway.
Offered an opportunity in Hollywood, Tyler appeared in the film Bop Girl Goes Calypso (1957), then starred opposite Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock (1957). She made a guest appearance on Perry Mason as Irene Kilby in "The Case of the Fan Dancer's Horse", which aired on December 28, 1957, nearly six months after her death.
After completing filming of the Presley movie, she and her second husband, Greg Lafayette, left Hollywood to return to their home in New York. While driving through Wyoming on July 3, 1957, they were involved in an automobile accident on U.S. Route 287. Tyler was killed instantly (she was cut in half), and her husband had a broken back, later dying of his injuries. A passenger in the other car was killed as well. Police said Lafayette swerved to avoid hitting a car that was towing a trailer, and collided with the other vehicle involved in the crash.
- Obituary Variety, July 10, 1957, page 127.
- "JUDY TYLER DIES AS CARS COLLIDE; Actress and Husband Killed by Crash in Wyoming-- Was on 'Howdy Doody'", The New York Times, July 4, 1957. Accessed October 17, 2014.
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