Rita Gam

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Rita Gam
Rita Gam - 1969.jpg
Gam in 1969
Rita Eleanore MacKay

(1927-04-02)April 2, 1927
DiedMarch 22, 2016(2016-03-22) (aged 88)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1950–1997
(m. 1949; div. 1954)
(m. 1956; div. 1963)

Rita Gam (born Rita Eleanore MacKay, April 2, 1927 – March 22, 2016) was an American film and television actress and documentary filmmaker. She won the Silver Bear for Best Actress.


Gam was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Belle (née Fately), who was born in Romania, and Milton A. MacKay, who was born in France to parents from Romania. Her father died in New York in 1931 and her mother remarried. Gam took the surname of her stepfather, Benjamin J. Gam.[1][2][3][4]


Gam was a model before she ventured into acting. Her acting career began on Broadway and in television, after which she moved on to films. Her Broadway credits included There's a Girl in My Soup, The Insect Comedy, A Flag is Born, and A Temporary Island.[5]

She appeared first in the 1952 film noir The Thief, which starred Ray Milland. In October 1952, she signed a long-term MGM contract.[6] Another notable role was Herodias in 1961's King of Kings.

Gam was an occasional panelist on the famous live broadcast CBS game show What's My Line as well in the 1950s and early 1960s.

She shared the Silver Bear for Best Actress award with Viveca Lindfors at the 1962 Berlin Film Festival, for their performances in Tad Danielewski's No Exit.[7]

In 1963, Gam was a leading member of The Minnesota Theatre Company in the opening season of The Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.[citation needed] Gam appeared in a few more American films before working in Europe. She returned to the U.S. to appear in small parts in films, including Klute in 1971, before taking up documentary film making.[citation needed]

In 2003, she appeared in the rotating cast of the Off-Broadway stage reading of Wit & Wisdom.[8] In 2004, she appeared in one of a series of ads for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Personal life and death[edit]

Gam's first husband was director Sidney Lumet, whom she married in 1949. The marriage ended in divorce in 1955.[5]

In 1956, Gam was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier in Monaco.[9] Gam's 1956 marriage to publisher Thomas Guinzburg ended in divorce in 1963.[5][10]

Gam died on March 22, 2016, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, from respiratory failure.[11]


Gam was the author of two books, Actress to Actress and Actors: A Celebration.[12][13][5]



Year Title Role Notes
1952 The Thief The Girl No dialog; MacGuffin
1953 Saadia Saadia
1954 Night People Ricky Cates
1954 Sign of the Pagan Kubra
1956 Magic Fire Cosima Liszt
1956 Mohawk Onida
1958 Sierra Baron Felicia Delmonte
1959 Wild Cats on the Beach Rita Eldmont
1959 Hannibal Sylvia
1961 King of Kings Herodias
1962 No Exit Estelle Also known as Sinners Go to Hell
1971 Klute Trina
1971 Shoot Out Emma
1971 Such Good Friends Doria
1974 The Gardener Helena Boardman
1974 Law and Disorder Woman in Cab
1987 Distortions Mildred Tyson
1989 Midnight Heidi
1996 Rowing Through Iris Biglow
1997 Monaco Short, Voice, (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1950 Believe It or Not "The Secret of Nefertiti"
1951 Lights Out Girl "The Pattern"
1951 Trapped "The Nobody"
1951 Somerset Maugham TV Theatre "Appearances and Reality"
1951 Danger "Marley's Ghost", "Inherit Murder"
1951 Lux Video Theatre Leah "A Child Is Born"
1952 Cameo Theatre "Dark of the Moon"
1952 Casey, Crime Photographer "Blackmail"
1952 The Adventures of Fu Manchu: The Zayat Kiss TV film
1954 The Motorola Television Hour Anna "Nightmare in Algiers"
1954 The Jack Benny Program Woman in Commercial "The Jam Session Show", "San Diego Naval Training Center Show"
1955 Ford Theatre Mimi "Mimi"
1955 Kraft Television Theatre "Trucks Welcome"
1956 Front Row Center Anna Deasy "Deadlock"
1956 Screen Directors Playhouse Lotti "Affair in Sumatra"
1956 Westinghouse Studio One Rain "The Laughter of Giants"
1957 The Steve Allen Show Comedian "3.11"
1958 DuPont Show of the Month "The Bridge of San Luis Rey"
1958 Armchair Theatre Elsie "Time of Your Life"
1960 The United States Steel Hour Polly Chalmers "The Women of Hadley", "Revolt in Hadley"
1964 Festival Yelena "Uncle Vanya"
1964 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Detta "The Mist of Silence"
1966 The Jackie Gleason Show Rosita "The Honeymooners: You're in the Picture"
1966 Family Affair Louise Marshall "Beware the Other Woman"
1968 Hidden Faces Mimi Jaffe TV series
1973 McMillan & Wife Pam Crane "The Devil You Say"
1974 Mannix Dr. Ernestine Waldo "Race Against Time: Parts 1 & 2"
1975 Matt Helm "Now I Lay Me Down to Die"
1976 Harry O Naomi Cline "Book of Changes"
1977 Love of Life Nita Ray TV series
1978 Greatest Heroes of the Bible Xantha "The Story of Noah: Parts 1 & 2"
1979 The Rockford Files Cynthia Zakarian "Guilt"
1981 Tales of the Unexpected Lisa Brisson "Completely Foolproof"
1983 Romance Theatre Mitzi "Love in the Present Tense: Parts 1-5"
1983 Tucker's Witch Beatrice "Formula for Revenge"
1983 The Edge of Night Dora Coburn TV series


  1. ^ Judith Balaban Quine (1990). The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly and Six Intimate Friends. Internet Archive. Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671707705. Retrieved June 2, 2016. Rita Gam was born in Pittsburgh.
  2. ^ "Person Details for Rita Mackay in household of Milton Mackay, "United States Census, 1930"". FamilySearch. Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  3. ^ "Person Details for Rita Gam in household of Benjamin J Gam, "United States Census, 1940"". FamilySearch. Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  4. ^ "Person Details for Milton A. Mackay, "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949"". FamilySearch. Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d "Rita Gam, actress - obituary". The Telegraph. April 10, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  6. ^ "Rita Gam". Glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  7. ^ "Berlinale 1962: Prize Winners". Berlinale.de. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  8. ^ "Wit & Wisdom - Off-Broadway | Tickets, Reviews, Info and More". Theatermania.com. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  9. ^ LIFE Magazine, May 5, 1952, p. 144
  10. ^ Staff. "RITA GAM REMARRIED; Film Actress Is Wed Here to Thomas H. Guinzburg", The New York Times, March 24, 1956; accessed September 13, 2010.
  11. ^ "Rita Gam Dead: Glamorous Actress Was 88". The Hollywood Reporter. March 22, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  12. ^ Gam, Rita (1986). Actress to Actress. ISBN 0941130231.
  13. ^ Gam, Rita (1988). Actors: A Celebration. ISBN 0312017456.

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