Pamela Britton

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Pamela Britton
Pamela Britton in DOA 2.jpg
Britton in the film D.O.A. (1950)
Born
Armilda Jane Owens

(1923-03-19)March 19, 1923
DiedJune 17, 1974(1974-06-17) (aged 51)
Other namesGloria Owen
Alma materState Teacher's Normal School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
OccupationActress
Years active1945–1973
Spouse(s)
Arthur Steel
(m. 1945)
Children1
Parent(s)Ethel Waite Owen

Pamela Britton (born Armilda Jane Owens, March 19, 1923 – June 17, 1974) was an American actress, best known for appearing as Lorelei Brown in the television series My Favorite Martian (1963–1966) and for her female lead in the film noir classic D.O.A. (1950). Throughout her acting career, Britton appeared often on Broadway and in several Hollywood and TV movies.

Early career[edit]

Armilda Jane Owens was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Ethel (Waite) and Dr. Raymond Gilbert Owens, a physician.[citation needed] Her mother was a prominent stage, radio, and early television actress. She had two sisters: Virginia, who was an actress for RKO Radio Pictures; and Mary, a social worker. Armilda attended Holy Angels Academy and the State Teacher's Normal School in her home town of Milwaukee. By the age of nine she was doing summer stock, and Hollywood came calling at age ten. Her mother rejected the advances, saying she wanted her to be an actress, not a child star. Owen started auditioning for roles at the age of 15, using the name "Gloria Jane Owen". She found that as soon as people knew who her mother was, they expected her to be as accomplished an actress. She used a pseudonym to audition under, choosing Pamela (from a British book) and Britton (to emphasize the source). In 1943 she found voice work as Jackie Gleason's mother-in-law on "The Honeymooners" radio show.[1]

Theatre work[edit]

After a stint touring with bandleader Don McGuire, Britton's big break came when she was cast as both Celeste Holm's understudy and as Gertie in the Broadway production of Oklahoma! She played Meg Brockie in the Broadway production of Brigadoon (1947).[2] When Oklahoma! went on tour, she took over Holm's role as Ado Annie.[3]

Britton's New York agent eventually sent her credentials to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executive Marvin Schneck. He came to see one of her performances in Chicago, and was disappointed. He returned a second night, however, after additional cajoling from her agent, and he signed Britton immediately.[citation needed]

Hollywood[edit]

Britton's first role in a major production was as Frank Sinatra's girlfriend in Anchors Aweigh. Afterward, however, came a forgettable part in A Letter for Evie in 1946. She went on hiatus to play the comic role of "Meg Brockie" in the original 1947 production of Brigadoon on Broadway. She returned to the big screen opposite Clark Gable in Key to the City (1950), and then went on to make her most significant film appearance in the classic D.O.A., also in 1950. She made her third film of the year in the Red Skelton vehicle, Watch the Birdie (1951). It was 19 years before she returned to the big screen.[4]

Britton portrayed the title role of the TV version of the Chic Young newspaper comic strip Blondie (1957), opposite Arthur Lake as her husband, "Dagwood Bumstead".[5] She reprised her role in Brigadoon in 1954; appeared in Annie Get Your Gun at the Santa Barbara Bowl; and then returned to Broadway to replace an ailing Janis Paige in Guys and Dolls.[6]

My Favorite Martian[edit]

What is perhaps her signature role[5]: 729  began in 1963 and lasted until 1966 when she appeared as the nosy and ditzy landlady, Mrs. Lorelei Brown, in My Favorite Martian. After the series ended, Britton appeared in the movies, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came.[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

Britton was married on April 8, 1943, in Texas, to Captain Arthur Steel after they met on a blind date arranged by one of her sisters. After the wedding, he was posted to Italy on active service while Britton remained working at home. They had a daughter, Katherine Lee (born September 8, 1946). After the war, Steel worked as an advertising executive and went on to manage the Gene Autry hotels (Steel and Autry were first cousins). As their daughter grew up, Britton worked mainly in West Coast theater. After performing on tour with Don Knotts in The Mind with the Dirty Man, Britton was admitted to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where she died of brain cancer on June 17, 1974, aged 51.[7]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1945 Anchors Aweigh Girl from Brooklyn
1946 A Letter for Evie Barney Lee
1949 D.O.A. Paula Gibson
1950 Key to the City Miss Unconscious
1950 Watch the Birdie Mrs. Shanway
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Freda
1970 Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came Sgt. Graham

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dausman, Cathy (April 24, 2013). "Moraga Woman Always in the Wings". Lamorinda Weekly. Archived from the original on February 12, 2022. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  2. ^ "Pamela Britton". Playbill.com. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  3. ^ Soanes, Wood (June 4, 1954). "Pamela Britton of 'Brigadoon' Lunches at Villa de La Paix". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 47. Retrieved October 22, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  4. ^ "Pamela Britton Plays Dumb As A Regular Film Career". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. February 5, 1950. p. 28. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  6. ^ a b "Pamela Britton Unpacks to Stay in Hollywood". The Ottawa Journal. November 9, 1963. p. 99. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  7. ^ "Pamela Britton - TV's 'Blondie' is Dead". Chicago Tribune. June 18, 1974. p. 26. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

External links[edit]