Friday, October 16, 2015

Linda Darnell, 1923-1965

While TCM is spending this morning and afternoon with birthday girl Angela Lansbury, I'd like to mention another actress whose birth anniversary is today: Linda Darnell.

Darnell started her career young, playing adult roles at the age of 16 when she starred opposite Tyrone Power in Day-Time Wife. This one has Darnell as Power's wife. She learns that he's probably having an affair with his secretary, so she decided to find out why bosses love their secretaries by becoming one herself. The only thing is, she becomes secretary to one of her husband's clients and then has to try to keep him from finding out. Darnell proves to be capable of comedy as does Power. This one apparently got a DVD release in a set with Johnny Apollo, but I think it's out of print.

Darnell remained at Fox for much of her career, which is why her movies don't show up all that often on TCM. Among the starring roles she did the title role in Forever Amber as the woman who rises in Restoration England by using her sex appeal. There's also Fallen Angel, an early noir starring her and Dana Andrews.

One of my favorite Darnell roles is as the woman from the wrong side of the tracks who really only cares about getting away from that, in No Way Out.

Darnell's film career more or less ended with another movie she did opposite Dana Andrews, Zero Hour!. This one has Andrews as a former World War II pilot who has to take the controls of a commercial plane after the cabin crew and many of the passengers get sick from the airline food. It's the storyline borrowed by the Zuckers when they made Airplane! two dozen years later.

Darnell died tragically young at the age of 41 in a house fire.

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