||This article reads like a review rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (December 2007)|
|Born||Martha Lee Estes
June 23, 1929
Covington, Tennessee United States
|Died||May 16, 1982
North Hollywood, California USA
|Occupation||Film, television, stage actress|
|Years active||1954–1961, 1971|
|Spouse(s)||Dick Contino (1956-1982; her death)|
Leigh Snowden (born Martha Lee Estes, June 23, 1929 – May 16, 1982) was an American actress in motion pictures and television.
Studios bid for a young actress
Snowden was from Covington, Tennessee. When she was young she sang in the church choir and later attended and graduated from Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee. Soon after, she moved to California with the intention of becoming an actress. She got her first break on a Jack Benny Christmas show that was being televised from the San Diego Naval Base. She walked across the stage in front of an audience of ten thousand sailors. A newspaper piece with the headline Sailors Whistles Blow Blond Into Film Studio, followed. The column revealed that the morning after the show, agents from eleven Hollywood studios either phoned or came to Snowden's door bidding for her attention. Universal Pictures won the right to sign Snowden. There followed voice lessons and acting classes. She was instructed along with Mara Corday, Pat Crowley, Clint Eastwood, James Garner, and John Saxon.
Actress in sci-fi classics
Snowden became an actress appearing in the films All That Heaven Allows, The Square Jungle, The Creature Walks Among Us, Outside the Law, I've Lived Before and Hot Rod Rumble. Her last performance in movies was as Evie in The Comancheros (1961). Her last TV roles came in episodes of This is Alice (1958) and Tightrope (1960).
She married accordionist Dick Contino in September 1956 and they remained together until her passing in 1982. They had 5 children. A party given by Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh to celebrate the first TV show performance of Rory Calhoun was the setting for their first date.
Return to acting
In 1971 Snowden made a comeback of sorts. She played the role of Maggie in the Fresno Community Theater production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. She claimed to be nervous about having to appear in her slip during most of the play's second act. Even though briefly embarrassed, the actress professed a love of the stage. She liked it more in some respects than either television or films because of "the feeling of being more in touch with people."
Leigh Snowden died in 1982 of cancer in North Hollywood, California.
- Fresno, California Bee Republican, She Was A Hollywood Glamour Puss, Sunday, March 14, 1971, Page 4-G.