Rita Gam

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Rita Gam
Rita Gam - 1969.jpg
Gam in 1969
Born Rita Eleanore MacKay
(1927-04-02)April 2, 1927
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died March 22, 2016(2016-03-22) (aged 88)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Respiratory failure
Occupation Actress
Years active 1950–1997
  • Sidney Lumet
    (m. 1949; div. 1954)
  • Thomas Guinzburg
    (m. 1956; div. 1963)
Children 2

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


Gam was born Rita Eleanore MacKay in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Belle (nėe Fately), who was born in Romania, and Milton A. MacKay, who was born in Alsace-Lorraine, to parents from Romania. Her father died in 1931, and her mother subsequently remarried, and Rita took the surname of her stepfather, Benjamin J. Gam, who was a Russian Jewish immigrant.[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.

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] and Lumet married socialite Gloria Vanderbilt. In 1956 she married publisher Thomas Guinzburg. This marriage also ended in divorce[9] in 1963.[5] She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her close friend, Grace Kelly, to Prince Rainier in Monaco.[10]

Gam died on March 22, 2016 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from respiratory failure, aged 88.[11] She was survived by a daughter and a son.[5]


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

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Judith Balaban Quine. "The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly and Six Intimate Friends". Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Rita Gam, actress - obituary". The Telegraph. April 10, 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 
  6. ^ "Rita Gam". Glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  7. ^ "Berlinale 1962: Prize Winners". Berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  8. ^ "Wit & Wisdom - Off-Broadway | Tickets, Reviews, Info and More". Theatermania.com. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  9. ^ Staff. "RITA GAM REMARRIED; Film Actress Is Wed Here to Thomas H. Guinzburg", The New York Times, March 24, 1956; accessed September 13, 2010.
  10. ^ LIFE Magazine, May 5, 1952, p. 144
  11. ^ "Rita Gam Dead: Glamorous Actress Was 88". The Hollywood Reporter. 2016-03-22. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  12. ^ "Actress to Actress". Amazon. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 
  13. ^ "Actors: A Celebration". Amazon. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 

External links[edit]