Leigh Snowden

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Leigh Snowden
Tightrope Mike Connors 1960.JPG
Snowden (left) with Mike Connors and Claire Kelly in a promotional picture for Tightrope
Born Martha Lee Estes
(1929-06-23)June 23, 1929
Covington, Tennessee United States
Died May 16, 1982(1982-05-16) (aged 52)
North Hollywood, California USA
Occupation Film, television, stage actress
Years active 1954–1961, 1971
Spouse(s) Dick Contino (1956-1982; her death)
Children 5

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[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

External links[edit]