Vera Miles

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Vera Miles
Vera Miles - 1959.jpg
Vera Miles in 1959
Born Vera June Ralston
(1929-08-23) August 23, 1929 (age 86)
Boise City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1950–1995
Spouse(s) Bob Miles (1948–1954); 2 daughters
Gordon Scott (1956–1960); 1 son
Keith Larsen (1960–1971); 1 son

Vera Miles (born August 23, 1929) is an American actress who worked closely with Alfred Hitchcock, most notably as Lila Crane in the classic masterpiece Psycho, reprising the role in the 1983 sequel, Psycho II. Her other popular films include The Wrong Man, The Searchers, Follow Me Boys! and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Early life[edit]

Miles was born Vera June Ralston in 1929 in Boise City, Oklahoma to Thomas and Burnice (née Wyrick) Ralston. She had three elder siblings.[1][2] She grew up first in Pratt, Kansas, and later lived in Wichita, where she worked nights as a Western Union operator-typist and graduated from Wichita North High School in 1947. She was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948 and was the third runner-up in the Miss America contest.[3][4] When she appeared as a contestant on the April 4, 1951, edition of the Groucho Marx quiz show You Bet Your Life described as "a beauty contest winner", Marx asked her about some of the titles she held. She replied, "I was first Miss Chamber of Commerce and then Miss Wichita and then Miss Kansas and Miss Texas Grapefruit and recently I've been chosen Miss New Maid Margarine and I had the honor to represent Kansas in the Miss America pageant."[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Miles moved to Los Angeles in 1950, and landed small roles in films and television, including a minor role as a chorus girl in Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), a musical starring Janet Leigh, with whom Miles co-starred nine years later in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. She used her first husband's name, Miles, because there already was an active film actress who went by the name Vera Ralston. Miles eventually was put under contract at various studios. She once recalled, "I was dropped by the best studios in town."[5]

While under contract to Warner Brothers, Miles was cast in Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (released in 1955) as Tarzan's love interest. After the filming she married her Tarzan co-star, Gordon Scott; they divorced in 1959. Director John Ford chose Miles to star as Jeffrey Hunter's love interest in The Searchers (1956) starring John Wayne. That same year, she co-starred in 23 Paces to Baker Street with Van Johnson. In 1957, she began a five-year personal contract with Alfred Hitchcock, and was widely publicized as the director's potential successor to Grace Kelly.[6]

Miles' new mentor directed her in the role of Ralph Meeker's emotionally troubled new bride in "Revenge", the pilot episode of his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Suitably impressed, Hitchcock directed her on the big screen alongside Henry Fonda, who played a musician falsely accused of a crime, in The Wrong Man (1956). New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther singled out Miles' performance, writing that she "does convey a poignantly pitiful sense of fear of the appalling situation into which they have been cast". Hitchcock undertook to reinvent his new star through grooming and wardrobe supervised by Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head.[citation needed]

Production delays and her pregnancy cost Miles the leading role opposite James Stewart in Vertigo (1958), the project Hitchcock designed as a showcase for his new star (the role which eventually went to Kim Novak). When asked several years later about Miles by director François Truffaut for the book Hitchcock/Truffaut, Hitchcock explained their professional falling-out this way: "She became pregnant just before the part that was going to turn her into a star. After that, I lost interest. I couldn't get the rhythm going with her again." Miles reflected, "Over the span of years, he's had one type of woman in his films, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and so on. Before that, it was Madeleine Carroll. I'm not their type and never have been. I tried to please him, but I couldn't. They are all sexy women, but mine is an entirely different approach."[citation needed]

Despite their differences, Hitchcock cast Miles in what is arguably the role for which she is most remembered, that of Lila Crane in Psycho. She was cast in 1962 and 1965 episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1962 she worked with John Ford again on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance starring John Wayne and James Stewart as two men competing for her hand in marriage (Stewart wins). Miles was featured in many popular television shows. On February 26, 1960, she starred in the episode "Mirror Image" of the classic CBS television series, The Twilight Zone with Martin Milner. Miles guest starred on the Darren McGavin NBC western series, Riverboat.[5]

On October 4, 1960, Miles appeared in the episode "Three Rode West" of NBC's Laramie western series in the role of Annie Andrews, a young woman who is seeking a husband and ends up being terrorized by outlaw Frank Skinner, played by Myron Healey.[7]

In 1963, she co-starred in the first episode of ABC's The Fugitive titled "Fear in a Desert City". In 1964 she co-starred in an episode of The Outer Limits, "Forms of Things Unknown" (broadcast May 4, 1964), along with David McCallum, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Scott Marlowe and Barbara Rush.[5]

In 1965, Miles portrayed Sister Gervaise in the episode "There's a Penguin in My Garden" of Mr. Novak, a TV series starring James Franciscus as an idealistic Los Angeles high school teacher. She also played a supporting role in several episodes of the CBS series My Three Sons, starring Fred MacMurray.

In 1966, Miles co-starred with MacMurray in the Walt Disney film Follow Me, Boys!. In 1968, she was reunited with former co-star John Wayne for Hellfighters, after scenes in which she had played Wayne's character's wife in The Green Berets were cut by Warner Bros., which wanted more action in the film.[8]

On television in 1971, Miles appeared as the ex-girlfriend of private investigator Frank Cannon played by William Conrad who asks for help when her husband is murdered in the pilot for the series Cannon. She would appear twice more on the series in different roles during its five-year run. She played a cosmetics queen who commits murder in "Lovely but Lethal", a 1973 episode of NBC's Columbo. She also had a part on CBS's Hawaii Five-O in episode "Dear Enemy" as a woman whose husband was incarcerated after being framed for murder, and in a 1976 episode of the mystery series Ellery Queen.

In 1983, two decades after Psycho, Miles reprised the role of Lila Crane for Psycho II, joining Anthony Perkins in the sequel.

She guest-starred on 1985, 1990 and 1991 episodes of Angela Lansbury's television mystery series, Murder, She Wrote.

Throughout the 1980s until her retirement in 1995, Miles continued to work in both television and film.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Miles has been married three times. Her first husband was Bob Miles. They were married from 1948 until 1954, and had two daughters, Debra and Kelley. Her second husband was Gordon Scott. They were married from 1956 until 1959, and had one son, Michael. Her third husband was actor Keith Larsen. They were married from 1960 until 1971, and had one son, Erik.[5]

Miles currently resides in California, refusing to grant interviews or make public appearances. Her grandson, actor Jordan Essoe, however, met with actress Jessica Biel in 2012 in preparation for Biel's portrayal of Miles in the film Hitchcock.[9]

Selected filmography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vera Miles profile at FilmReference.com
  2. ^ Vera Miles Biography at Yahoo! Movies
  3. ^ Results at pageantcenter.com
  4. ^ See Miss America 1948#Placements
  5. ^ a b c d e Vera Miles at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Charlotte Chandler, It's Only A Movie: Alfred Hitchcock, a Personal Biography, Simon & Schuster, 2005, p. 237; ISBN 0-7432-4508-3
  7. ^ "Laramie: "Three Rode West", October 4, 1960". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  8. ^ Munn, Michael (2004), John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, London, UK: Robson Publishing, pp. 294–295, ISBN 1-86105-722-9 
  9. ^ Vera Miles' grandson Jordan Essoe met with Jessica Biel to discuss the film Hitchcock; accessed September 24, 2014.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Ruth Ellen Richmond
Miss Kansas
1948
Succeeded by
Shirley Hargiss