Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coleen Gray turns 91

Coleen Gray with Sterling Hayden in The Killing (1956)

Today marks the 91st birthday of actress Coleen Gray. Gray more or less retired in the late 1970s when she maried her third husband, and spent most of the last 20 years of her career doing episodic television, showing up in a lot of different TV shows. But she also made a couple of significant movies before that. I found a photo from The Killing above; Gray plays the girlfriend of Sterling Hayden, who is masterminding a plan to rob the takings from a racetrack.

Before that, she was in a couple of Fox's great entries in the noir (more or less) cycle. First, she played Nettie, the second wife of Victor Mature's (Nick Bianco), in Kiss of Death. The very same year, she played the "pretty girl" working the carnival circuit in Tyrone Power's Nightmare Alley.

It's been quite a while since I've seen The Killing, but if memory serves, she's not really a bad girl in that one, just married to a bad guy. The real bad girl there is played by Marie Windsor. So it's interesting to see her show up in several prominent noirs, consistently playing reasonably good girls. It's a character type which, again if memory serves, she reprises in Kansas City Confidential, another of those noir-type movies I haven't seen in a long time.

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