Oscar Actors: Grahame, Gloria–Background, Career, Awards

Research in Progress: August 17, 2020

Gloria Grahame Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: Yes. mother actress and acting teacher

Social Class: Middle; father architect

Family:

Education: Hollywood High School dropout

Training:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: Blonde Fever (1944); aged 21

Oscar Role: Crossfire (1947); aged 24

Other Noms: The Bad and Beautiful (1952); aged 29

Gap between First Film and First Nom: 3 years

Other Awards: The

Screen Image: floozy, abused by men

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span:

Marriage: Nicholas Ray

Politics:

Death: 1981; aged 57

 

Gloria Grahame was born in Los Angeles, California on November 28, 1923. She was raised a Methodist.

Her English father, Reginald Michael Bloxam Hallward was an architect and author; her Scottish mother, Jean (or Jeanne) McDougall, who used the stage name Jean Grahame, was a British stage actress and acting teacher.

The couple had an older daughter, Joy Hallward, an actress who married John Mitchum (the younger brother of actor Robert Mitchum).

During Gloria’s childhood and adolescence, her mother taught her acting.

Grahame attended Hollywood High School before dropping out to pursue acting.

Spotted by Louis B. Mayer

Grahame was signed to a contract with MGM Studios under her professional name after Louis B. Mayer saw her performing on Broadway.

Grahame made her film debut in Blonde Fever (1944) and then scored one of her most praised roles as the flirtatious Violet Bick, saved from disgrace by George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

MGM was not able to develop her potential as a star and her contract was sold to RKO Studios in 1947.

Grahame was often featured in film noir as a tarnished beauty with an irresistible sexual allure. During this time, she made films for several Hollywood studios. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Crossfire (1947).

Grahame starred with Humphrey Bogart in In a Lonely Place (1950) for Columbia. Though it is considered one of her finest performances, it was not a box-office hit and RKO head Howard Hughes claimed that he never saw it.

Oscar Award: Brief Role

Despite only appearing for 10 nine minutes on screen, she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in MGM’s The Bad and the Beautiful in 1952. She long held the record for the shortest performance to win acting Oscar until Beatrice Straight won for Network with her 5-minute, 2-second performance.

Other memorable roles included the scheming Irene Neves in Sudden Fear (also 1952), the femme fatale Vicki Buckley in Human Desire (1953), and mob moll Debby Marsh in Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953) in which, in a horrifying off-screen scene, she is scarred by hot coffee thrown in her face by Lee Marvin’s character.

Grahame appeared as wealthy seductress Harriet Lang in Stanley Kramer’s Not as a Stranger (1955), starring Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, and Frank Sinatra.

Grahame also did her own stunts as Angel the Elephant Girl in DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth, which won the Oscar for best film of 1952.

Grahame’s career began to wane after her the musical film Oklahoma! (1955). Grahame, typecast as a film noir siren, was viewed miscast as an ignorant country lass in a wholesome musical, and the paralysis of upper lip from plastic surgery altered her speech and appearance.

She also guest-starred in TV series, including the sci-fi series “The Outer Limits.”

The play “The Time of Your Life,” directed by Edwin Sherin, was revived in March 17, 1972, at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles with Grahame, Henry Fonda, Richard Dreyfuss, Lewis J. Stadlen, Ron Thompson, Jane Alexander, Richard X. Slattery, and Pepper Martin in cast.

Breast Cancer

In 1974, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but it went into remission less than a year later and Grahame returned to work. In 1980, the cancer returned, but Grahame refused to accept the diagnosis or seek treatment.

Choosing instead to continue working, she traveled to Britain to appear in a play. Her health, however, declined rapidly and she developed peritonitis after undergoing a procedure to remove fluid from her abdomen in September 1981.

She returned to New York City, where she died on October 5, 1981, aged 57.