Lola Albright

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Lola Albright
Lola albright 1959.JPG
Albright as Edie Hart in Peter Gunn, 1959
Born Lola Jean Albright
(1924-07-20)July 20, 1924
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
Died March 23, 2017(2017-03-23) (aged 92)
Toluca Lake, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, singer, model
Years active 1947–1984
Spouse(s)
  • Warren Dean (m. 1944; div. 1949)
  • Jack Carson (m. 1952; div. 1958)
  • Bill Chadney (m. 1961; div. 1975)

Lola Jean Albright (July 20, 1924 – March 23, 2017) was an American singer and actress. She is best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, on all three seasons of the TV series Peter Gunn.

Early years[edit]

Albright was born in Akron, Ohio, to Marion A. (née Harvey) and John Paul Albright, both of whom were gospel music singers. The family lived at 552 Fairfield Avenue in the city, although the federal census of 1930 records that Lola, her parents, and her widowed maternal grandmother, Lelia D. Harvey, were all living that year in Akron in the home of Alma L. Barton, Lola's great-aunt, who was a widow as well.[1] That census further documents that Lola's mother was also born in Ohio but her father was a native of North Dakota, who in 1930 supported the family by working as an inspector in a local "Insulating" business.[1][2] With regard to Lola's early education, she attended King Grammar School and graduated from West High School in Akron in 1942.[3][4] She sang in public from a young age and studied piano for 20 years. Beginning when she was 15 years old, she worked after school as a receptionist at radio station WAKR in Akron.[5] She left WAKR at the age of 18 and moved to Cleveland, taking a job there as a stenographer at WTAM radio. Her first radio performance came on WJW in Cleveland.[3] Moving to Chicago, she worked as a photographer’s model and was discovered by a talent scout, which led to her moving to Hollywood at the age of 23.

Film[edit]

Albright made her motion picture debut with a small singing role in the 1947 musical comedy The Unfinished Dance and then appeared the following year in two Judy Garland movies, The Pirate and Easter Parade. She first gained studio and public notice in the 1949 film noir production Champion with her portrayal of the wife of a manipulative boxing manager, who falls for a prizefighter played by Kirk Douglas.[6] For the next several years, she appeared in secondary roles in over 20 films, including several 'B' Westerns. Among them was a co-starring role in the slapstick comedy The Good Humor Man in 1950 opposite future husband Jack Carson.

Some of the better films in which Albright appeared were Tulsa (1949), starring Susan Hayward; The Silver Whip in 1953, in which she played the love interest of Dale Robertson; and The Tender Trap in (1955), in which she was one of the several women trying to trap a bachelor, played by Frank Sinatra, into marriage.

In the early 1950s, Albright was also a frequent model for pinup painter Gil Elvgren.[7]

A Cold Wind in August[edit]

In 1961, she starred in Alexander Singer's cultish A Cold Wind in August, a low-budget, black-and-white independent drama film as a divorced burlesque show stripper in her thirties who becomes involved in a torrid romance with a 17-year-old boy.[6] Critic Pauline Kael offered high praise for Albright's performance.[8] In 1985, The New York Times also lauded Albright's acting in the film.[9] With respect to her personal assessment of her role in A Cold Wind in August, Albright said in 1961, “Some people come up to me and say, ‘Lola, you shouldn’t play that kind of part — it isn’t you.’ Well, I count to 10, bite my tongue and then tell them that I’m an actress: I don’t want to play myself.”[10]

Later films[edit]

Her performance in A Cold Wind in August gave a fresh impulse to her film career, leading to roles in Elvis Presley's musical Kid Galahad in 1962, in which she played the hard-boiled long-time girlfriend of a cynical boxing manager played by Gig Young, and in French director René Clément's Joy House, as a wealthy widow with a passion for handing out meals to the poor (albeit with an ulterior motive). She portrayed a cocktail waitress in Lord Love a Duck who turns suicidal when she thinks she has ruined her daughter Tuesday Weld's life. The next year she was in the Western epic The Way West.

She gave up her feature-film career in 1968 after completing her work in The Impossible Years, a "generation-gap" farce in which she performed as Alice Kingsley, the despairing wife of a professor of psychiatry played by (David Niven), and the mother of two teenage daughters.[6]

Television[edit]

Unlike other film actors who were slow to take the plunge into television, Albright was actively working in the medium from 1951, when she appeared on the anthology series Lux Video Theatre, in the episode "Inside Story".[3] Later she had a recurring role on The Bob Cummings Show in the 1950s and also made guest appearances on such television series as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Thin Man, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Three Sons, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Medical Center, Kojak, Columbo, McMillan & Wife, Quincy, M.E., Starsky & Hutch, and The Incredible Hulk.

Peter Gunn[edit]

In 1958, Albright was cast in Peter Gunn, the television detective series produced by Blake Edwards and scored by Henry Mancini. She played sultry Edie Hart, a nightclub singer and the romantic interest of Peter Gunn (Craig Stevens). "She was perfect casting for that role because she had an off-the-cuff kind of jazz delivery that was very hard to find," Mancini said in 1992. "Just enough to believe that she’d be singing in that club and that she shouldn’t be on Broadway or doing movies."[10] Over the course of 114 episodes produced for Peter Gunn, Albright sang in 38 of them, covering jazz evergreens such as How High the Moon,[6] A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Easy Street, and Day In, Day Out.

In 1964, she appeared again with Stevens on his short-lived CBS drama Mr. Broadway, in the episode "Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones". Two years later, when actress Dorothy Malone had to undergo emergency surgery, Albright filled in for her as the character Constance Mackenzie on the prime-time soap opera Peyton Place. At the time, Albright called the role "one of the biggest challenges of my theatrical career."[11] Albright continued to perform in films and to make guest appearances on television until her retirement in 1984.[6]

Music[edit]

Columbia Records signed Albright as a vocalist, leading to the release of her album Lola Wants You in 1957.[5][12] Albright's subsequent role on Peter Gunn and her performances singing on that series led directly to her second album Dreamsville (1959), which was arranged by Henry Mancini and featured his orchestra.[13] Albright is one of the few non movie-soundtrack singers for whom Mancini arranged.

Recognition[edit]

In 1959, Albright was nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series for her work on Peter Gunn.[14] In 1966, she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress award at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival for her role in Lord Love a Duck.[15]

Personal life and death[edit]

Albright married and divorced three times, having no children of her own. Her first marriage, to Cleveland radio announcer Warren Dean, occurred in 1944. They divorced in 1949. Her second husband was actor Jack Carson (1951 to 1958). (Another source says that they married August 1, 1952, and divorced November 10, 1958.)[3] Her third marriage was to Bill Chadney (1961-1975), who played Emmett, the piano player on Peter Gunn. They married on May 19, 1961; separated around 1967; reconciled, then separated again in early 1970 before formally divorcing in 1974.

Following her retirement from acting, Albright spent her remaining years living in Toluca Lake, California. In 2014, she fell and fractured her spine, an injury that contributed to a general decline in her health over the next three years. On March 23, 2017, at the age of 92, she died at her home of natural causes.[2][16]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1947 The Unfinished Dance Fashion house associate Uncredited
1948 The Pirate Manuela's friend Uncredited
Easter Parade Hat model Uncredited
Julia Misbehaves Mannequin Uncredited
1949 Champion Palmer
Tulsa Candy Williams
The Girl from Jones Beach Vickie Uncredited
Bodyhold Mary Simmons
1950 The Good Humor Man Margie Bellew
Beauty on Parade Kay Woodstock
When You're Smiling Peggy Martin
He's a Cockeyed Wonder Actress in Drive-In movie Uncredited
The Killer That Stalked New York Francie Bennet
Sierra Passage Ann Walker
1952 Arctic Flight Martha Raymond
1953 The Silver Whip Waco
1955 Treasure of Ruby Hills May
The Magnificent Matador Mona Wilton
The Tender Trap Poppy Masters
1957 Pawnee Meg Alden
The Monolith Monsters Cathy Barrett
Oregon Passage Sylvia Dane
1958 Seven Guns to Mesa Julie Westcott
1961 A Cold Wind in August Iris Hartford
1962 Kid Galahad Dolly Fletcher
1964 Joy House Barbara
1966 Lord Love a Duck Marie Greene
1967 The Way West Rebecca 'Becky' Evans
The Money Jungle Peggy Lido
1968 Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? Roberta Lane
The Impossible Years Alice Kingsley
The Helicopter Spies Azalea

Short subjects:

  • The Soundman (1950)
  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Cowboy Stars (1955)
  • Filmmaking on the Riviera (1964)
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1951 Lux Video Theatre Jennifer Episode: "Inside Story"
Lux Video Theatre Miriam Episode: "Stolen Years"
Armstrong Circle Theatre Episode: "Twenty-One Days"
1952 All Star Revue Guest vocalist Episode: "2.24"
Tales of Tomorrow Carol Williams Episode: "The Miraculous Serum"
1953 Racket Squad Nancy Metcalfe Episode: "The System"
1954 Fireside Theatre Joyce Episode: "Invitation to Marriage"
The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse Jane Episode: "Borrow My Car"
Duffy's Tavern Episode: Archie Faces Marriage
Adventures of the Falcon Episode: "The Golden Phony"
1955 The Bob Cummings Show Kay Michaels Episodes: "Bob Meets Fonda's Sister", "Too Many Cooks", "Bob Falls in Love", "Hawaii Calls" and "Wedding, Wedding, Who's Having a Wedding?"
Screen Directors Playhouse Nancy Wheeler Episode: "Arroyo"
It's a Great Life Marilyn Episode: "Double Date"
Gunsmoke Lucy Hunt Episode: "Reed Survives"
1956 The Bob Cummings Show Kay Michaels Episode: "The Letter"
Four Star Playhouse Beverly Hudson Episode: "No Limit"
The People's Choice Dancer Episode: "Sock, the Budget Balancer"
Celebrity Playhouse Episode: "Girl at Large"
The Red Skelton Hour Guest (as herself) Episode: "Willie Resists Girls"
The Red Skelton Hour Priscilla Episode: "The First Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims"
1957 The Bob Cummings Show Kay Michaels Episode: "Bob Calls Kay's Bluff"
The Red Skelton Hour Foreign Spy Episode: "Bolivar the Repairman"
Code 3 Carol Episode: "Sunset Strip"
1958 The Thin Man Katherine West Episode: "The Tennis Champ"
Panic! Karen Adams Episode: "Fingerprints"
Target Episode: "The Jewel Thief "
Peter Gunn Edie Hart Episodes: "The Kill", "Streetcar Jones", "The Vicious Dog", "The Blind Pianist", "The Frog", "Lynn's Blues", "Rough Buck", "Image of Sally", "The Man with the Scar", "The Torch", "The Leaper".
1959 Peter Gunn Edie Hart Episodes: "The Fuse", "Let's Kill Timothy", "Murder on the Midway", "Pecos Pete", "Scuba", "Edie Finds a Corpse", "The Ugly Frame", "The Lederer Story", "Breakout", "Skin Deep", "February Girl", "Love Me to Death", "The Family Affair", "Lady Windbell's Fan", "Bullet for a Badge", "Kill from Nowhere", "Vendetta", "The Coffin", "The Portrait", "Protection", "Crisscross", "Edge of the Knife", "Death Is a Red Rose", "The Feathered Doll", "Kidnap", "The Rifle", "The Game", "The Price Is Murder", "The Briefcase", "The Wolfe Case".
1960 Peter Gunn Edie Hart Episodes: "Hot Money", "Spell of Murder", "Sentenced", "The Hunt", "Sing a Song of Murder", "The Long, Long Ride", "The Deadly Proposition", "The Murder Clause", "The Dummy", "Slight Touch of Homicide", "Wings of an Angel", "Death Watch", "Witness in the Window", "Send a Thief", "The Semi-Private Eye", "The Heiress", "Baby Shoes", "The Passenger", "The Maître d'", "The Candidate", "The Judgement", "The Death Frame", "Death Across the Board", "The Long Green Kill", "Take Five for Murder", "Dream Big", "Dream Deadly", "Sepi".
Michael Shayne Marie Leonard Episode: "Framed in Blood"
1961 Peter Gunn Edie Hart Episodes: "The Royal Roust", "Bullet in Escrow", "I Know It's Murder", "A Kill and a Half", "The Deep End", "Portrait in Leather", "Come Dance with Me and Die", "Cry Love, Cry Murder", "A Penny Saved", "Short a Motive", "The Most Deadly Angel", "Till Death Do Us Part", "Death Is a Four Letter Word", "Deadly Intrusion", "Voodoo", "Murder on the Line".
The United States Steel Hour Episode: "Famous"
King of Diamonds Margie Howard Episode: "The Wizard of Ice"
The Detectives Edna Craven Episode: "The Queen of Craven Point"
Adventures in Paradise Nita Graham Episode: "One Way Ticket"
General Electric Theater Cathy Armstrong Episode: "Cat in the Cradle"
1962 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Lisa Episode: "The Woman Who Wanted to Live"
Saints and Sinners Emily Fielder Episode: "Dear George, the Siamese Cat Is Missing"
My Three Sons Paulette Francis Episode: "Going Steady"
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Ruth Burke Episode: "The Black Curtain"
1963 The Beverly Hillbillies Gloria Buckles Episode: "Granny's Spring Tonic"
The Third Man Edie Episode: "The Way of McEagle"
The Eleventh Hour Lillian Marnell Episode: " Cold Hands, Warm Heart"
Burke's Law Shirley Mills Episode: "Who Killed Harris Crown?"
1964 Burke's Law Jennifer Carlisle Episode: "Who Killed WHO IV?"
Burke's Law Eve Chapin Episode: " Who Killed Cassandra Cass?"
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Eva Martin Episode: "Misadventure"
The Dick Van Dyke Show Paula Marshall Episode: "How to Spank a Star"
Dr. Kildare Gertrude Carey Episode: "A Nickel's Worth of Prayer"
Rawhide Maribelle Ashton-Warner Episode: "Incident of the Banker"
Mr. Broadway Duff Daniels Episode: "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones"
Wagon Train Leonora Parkman Episode: " Those Who Stay Behind"
1965 Burke's Law Peggy Frost Episode: "Who Killed Mother Goose?"
Burke's Law DeeDee Booker Episode: "Who Killed Nobody Somehow?"
Laredo Lilah Evans Episode: "Above the Law"
Will Banner TV Movie'
Rawhide Lottie Denton Episode: "The Gray Rock Hotel"
Branded Ann Williams Episode: "Mightier Than the Sword"
Bonanza Ann Episode: "The Search"
Peyton Place Constance Mackenzie Carson Episodes: "2.39", "2.40","2.41" (credit only), "2.42", "2.43" (credit only), "2.44", "2.45", "2.46" (credit only), "2.47", "2.48" (credit only).
1966 Peyton Place Constance Mackenzie Carson Episodes: "2.49", "2.50" (credit only), "2.51" (credit only), "2.52".
Branded Ann Williams Episodes: "Kellie" and "Cowards Die Many Times".
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Edith Woodland Episode: "Runaway Boy"
1967 How I Spent My Summer Vacation Mrs. Pine TV Movie
Bonanza Dolly Bantree Episode: "A Bride for Buford"
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Vickie Tate Episode: "To Sleep, Perchance to Scream"
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Azalea Episodes: The Prince of Darkness Affair: Parts I and II . Released in 1968 as the feature-length film The Helicopter Spies.
Ready and Willing Wilma O'Brien TV Movie
Cimarron Strip Stacey Houston Episode: "The Beast That Walks Like a Man"
1972 Medical Center Madeline Barris Episode: " Condemned"
1973 The ABC Afternoon Playbreak Mary Fiske Episode: "My Secret Mother"
Kojak Celia Lamb Episode: "The Corrupter"
1974 Medical Center Grace Episode: "No Escape"
1975 The Nurse Killer Hannah TV Movie
Police Story Minnie Episode: "The Cutting Edge"
1976 McMillan & Wife Nurse Fisher Episode: "The Deadly Cure"
Starsky and Hutch Lola Turkel Episode: "Bounty Hunter"
Columbo Clare Daley Episode: "Fade in to Murder"
1977 Delta County, U.S.A. Dossie Wilson TV Movie
Terraces Dorothea Cabe TV Movie
1978 Switch Millie Tate Episodes: "Who Killed Lila Craig?"
1981 The Incredible Hulk Elizabeth Collins Episodes: "The First Parts and 2"
1983 Quincy M.E. Liz McKenna Episode: "Murder on Ice"
1984 Airwolf Beatrice Moretti Episode: "Sins of the Past", (final television appearance)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930", Akron, Ohio, Ward 8, Block 136, Summit County, April 15, 1930. Bureau of the Census, United States Department of Commerce. Digital copy of original enumeration page available on FamilySearch, a free online genealogical database provided as a public service by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Price, Mark J. (March 23, 2017). "Akron native Lola Albright, glamorous Hollywood actress, dies at age 92". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d Aaker, Everett (2006). Encyclopedia of Early Television Crime Fighters. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6409-8. Pp. 6-8.
  4. ^ Barnes, Mike (March 24, 2017). "Lola Albright, Sultry Actress in 'Peter Gunn' and Kirk Douglas' 'Champion,' Dies at 92". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Shearer, Lloyd (October 29, 1961). "Lola Albright". Independent Star-News. pp. 96–97. Retrieved October 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ a b c d e Bergan, Ronald (March 31, 2017). "Lola Albright obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Elvgren on beauty". Chicago Tribune. March 31, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  8. ^ Kael, Pauline (1982). 5001 Nights at the Movies (Hardback). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 145. ISBN 0-8050-1367-9. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Howard. (1985, October 5). "CRITICS' CHOICE; CABLE TV", The New York Times
  10. ^ a b Schudel, Matt (March 25, 2017). "Lola Albright, alluring actress in stylish ‘Peter Gunn’ TV series, dies at 92". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Lola Albright To Substitute In Peyton Place". The North Adams Transcript. October 9, 1965. p. 11. Retrieved October 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ Lola Albright. "Lola Wants You". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  13. ^ Lola Albright with Henry Mancini and his orchestra. "Dreamsville". Retrieved September 9, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Lola Albright". Television Academy. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  15. ^ "Brlinale 1966: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (2017). "'Peter Gunn' Star Lola Albright Dies at 92", Variety, obituary, March 26, 2017; Penske Media Corporation (PMC), Los Angeles, California, and New York, New York. Retrieved July 26, 2017.

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