Death in Hollywood: Grahame, Gloria–Oscar Winner, 57

Oscar winner Gloria Grahame (“The Bad and the Beautiful,” in 1952) was married four times and had four children.

Grahame in Crossfire (1947), her first Best Supporting Actress nomination

Her first marriage was to actor Stanley Clements in August 1945; they divorced in June 1948. The day after her divorce from Clements was finalized, Grahame married director Nicholas Ray. They had a son, Timothy, in November 1948; Grahame and Ray divorced in 1952.  Grahame’s third marriage was to writer and television producer Cy Howard. They married in August 1954 and had a daughter, Marianna Paulette in 1956.  Grahame filed for divorce from Howard in May 1957, citing mental cruelty; they divorced in November 1957.

Grahame’s fourth and final marriage was to actor Anthony “Tony” Ray, the son of her second husband Nicholas Ray and his first wife Jean Evans; Anthony Ray was her former stepson. Their relationship reportedly began when Tony Ray was 13 years old and Grahame was still married to his father (which effectively ended the marriage when Nicholas Ray caught the two in bed together). The two reconnected in 1958 and married in Mexico in May, 1960. They had two children: Anthony, Jr. (born 1963) and James (born 1965).

News of the marriage was kept private until 1962 when it was written about in the tabloids and the ensuing scandal damaged Grahame’s reputation and her career. After learning of her marriage to Anthony Ray, Grahame’s third husband, Cy Howard, attempted to gain sole custody of the couple’s daughter, Marianna. Howard claimed Grahame was an unfit mother, and the two fought over custody of Marianna for years.

The stress of the scandal, her waning career and her custody battle with Howard took its toll on Grahame and she had a nervous breakdown. She underwent electroshock therapy in 1964.  Despite the scandal, Grahame’s marriage to Anthony Ray was her longest lasting union; they divorced in May 1974.

In March, 1974, Grahame was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent radiation treatment, changed her diet, stopped smoking and drinking alcohol, and also sought homeoathic remedies. In a year the cancer went into remission.  The cancer returned in 1980, but Grahame refused to acknowledge her diagnosis or seek radiation treatment. Despite failing health, Grahame continued working in stage productions in the US and the UK, living for some time in Liverpool with Peter Turner.  Turner’s book, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, claims that local family doctor told Grahame she had a cancerous tumor in her abdomen.  Notified of Grahame’s illness, her children Timothy and Paulette decided to take her back to the US–against Turner’s wishes.

On October 5, 1981, Grahame returned to the US, where she was admitted to St. Vincent Hospital in NYC. She died there few hours later at the age of 57.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, based on Peter Turner’s account of the final years of her life, was made into a movie, starring Annette Bening and Jamie Bell.