Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cathy O'Donnell, 1923-1970

Cathy O'Donnell with Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Today marks the birth anniversary of actress Cathy O'Donnell, who depending upon sources was born on this day in either 1923 or 1925. O'Donnell's first substantial role was as Wilma, the girl next door who still loves Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) even though he lost both arms in World War II, in the movie The Best Years of Our Lives. With a good performance like that, you'd think her career would be headed to big things, but life intervened. She decided to marry director William Wyler's brother Robert, who was a good 20 years her senior, something that the studio heads apparently thought wouldn't be good for her image. In fact, the marriage lasted for 22 years until O'Donnell's untimely death from cancer in 1970, but the damage to her career was done.

O'Donnell still was able to appear in several very interesting movies, such as the wife of Farley Granger in Side Street; Granger's girlfriend in They Live By Night; or a supporting role in Detective Story. Her last movie appearance was in William Wyler's Ben-Hur, although I think half of Hollywood appeared in that one since it went on for four hours.

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