Oscar Actors: Malone, Dorothy–Background, Career, Filmography

Oscar Record

Supporting Actress Oscar, 1956, at age 31.

Born Dorothy Eloise Maloney, January 30, 1925, in Chicago.

The daughter of a telephone company auditor, Malone modeled as a child and appeared in school plays. She was spotted at age 18 by a talent agent while performing in a college play at Southern Methodist University.

Malone emerged as a dramatic actress in the 1950s, winning the Supporting Actress Oscar for her first (and only) nomination, as the frustrated nymphomaniac in Douglas Sirk’s melodrama, “Written on the Wind.”


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Malone died on January 19, 2018, ten days before her 94th birthday.

Dorothy Malone was born Mary Dorothy Maloney on January 29, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois, one of five children born to Esther Emma “Eloise” Smith and her husband Robert Ignatius Maloney, an auditor for ATT telephone company.

Her two sisters died from polio complications. When she was six months old, her family moved to Dallas, Texas, where she modeled for Neiman Marcus and attended Ursuline Academy of Dallas, Highland Park High School, Hockaday Junior College, and, later, Southern Methodist University. She originally considered becoming a nurse.

While performing in a play at Southern Methodist University,[8] she was spotted by a talent scout, Eddie Rubin, who had been looking to find and cast a male actor.

Malone was signed by RKO at age 18 under her real name, Dorothy Maloney.[9][10] She made her film debut in Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943).[11][12]
She was credited as Dorothy Maloney in The Falcon and the Co-eds (1943), released shortly thereafter.[10] She later recalled, “I was a bridesmaid at a wedding in one picture. In another film, I was the leader of an all-girl orchestra. The only thing I did at RKO of any note was lose my Texas accent”.[13]
Her RKO appearances included Higher and Higher (1943) with Frank Sinatra, Seven Days Ashore (1944), Show Business (1944) with Eddie Cantor, Step Lively (1944) again with Sinatra, and Youth Runs Wild (1944) for producer Val Lewton.[14]

RKO did not renew her contract.  She then signed a contract with Warner, which changed her surname from Maloney to Malone. Early films included Hollywood Canteen (1944), Too Young to Know (1945), and Frontier Days (1945). She first achieved acclaim when Howard Hawks cast her as the bespectacled bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep (1946) with Humphrey Bogart. Warner gave her bigger parts in Janie Gets Married (1945), Night and Day (1946) and To the Victor (1946), with Dennis Morgan.

Malone’s first lead was Two Guys from Texas (1948) with Morgan and Jack Carson. Malone was in One Sunday Afternoon (1948) with Morgan and Janis Paige for director Raoul Walsh; this was a remake of The Strawberry Blonde (1941), with Malone playing the part played by Olivia de Havilland in the original. She was billed third in Flaxy Martin (1949) with Virginia Mayo and Zachary Scott then played a good girl in a Western with Joel McCrea, South of St Louis (1949). She and McCrea were re-teamed in Colorado Territory (1949), a remake of High Sierra (1941), also for Walsh; her last film before she left the studio.

Columbia used Malone to play Randolph Scott’s leading lady in The Man from Nevada (1950). She stayed at that studio for Convicted (1950) and The Killer That Stalked New York (1950). She made Mrs. O’Malley and Mr. Malone (1951) at MGM and played Tim Holt’s love interest in RKO’s Saddle Legion (1951)[21] and John Ireland’s love interest in The Bushwackers (1951). She began acting on television while continuing to appear in films, guest starring on shows such as The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse (“Education of a Fullback”, 1951), and Kraft Theatre (“The Golden Slate”, 1951).

Malone relocated to New York for several months to study acting until producer Hal Wallis called her back to appear in Scared Stiff (1953) starring the comedy duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

She was the love interest in a war film, Torpedo Alley (1952) for Allied Artists. She made Westerns with Ronald Reagan (Law and Order, 1953) and Mark Stevens (Jack Slade, 1953). She was also in the thriller Loophole (1954), billed second.

She did episodes of The Doctor (“The Runaways”, 1953), Omnibus (“The Horn Blows at Midnight”, 1953); Four Star Theatre (“Moorings”, 1953; “A Study in Panic”, 1954), Fireside Theatre (“Afraid to Live”, 1954; “Our Son”, 1954; “Mr Onion” 1955), Lux Video Theatre (“The Hunted”, 1955), The Christophers (“The World Starts with Jimmy”, 1955), General Electric Theatre (“The Clown” with Henry Fonda, 1955) and Appointment with Adventure (“Mutiny”, 1956).[23]
Film roles included The Lone Gun (1954), a Western with George Montgomery; Pushover (1954), a thriller with Fred MacMurray and Kim Novak; and Private Hell 36 (1954) from director Don Siegel.

Malone was reunited with Sinatra in Young at Heart (1954). She had a lead part in Battle Cry (1955), playing a married woman who has an affair with a young soldier (Tab Hunter) during WWII.

She co-starred with Ireland in The Fast and the Furious (1955), directed by Ireland but perhaps best remembered for being the first film produced by Roger Corman, who cast her as the female lead in his directorial debut, Five Guns West (1955).

At Warners, Malone made a Western with Randolph Scott, Tall Man Riding (1955), then was cast as Liberace’s love interest in Sincerely Yours (1955).

In the Paramount musical-comedy Artists and Models (1955), a reunion with Martin and Lewis, where she played the love interest of Martin’s character. She then returned to Westerns: At Gunpoint (1955), with MacMurray; Tension at Table Rock (1956), with Richard Egan; and Pillars of the Sky (1956) with Jeff Chandler.

Malone transformed herself into a platinum blonde and shed her “good girl” image when she co-starred with Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, and Robert Stack in Douglas Sirk’s drama Written on the Wind (1956). Her portrayal of the dipso-nymphomaniac daughter of a Texas oil baron won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

As a result, she was offered more substantial roles in such films as Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), a biopic of Lon Chaney with James Cagney and Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957) with Robert Taylor. Quantez (1957) was another “girl in a Western” part, supporting Fred MacMurray, but The Tarnished Angels (1957) reunited her successfully with Hudson, Sirk, Stack and producer Albert Zugsmith.

Malone was given the role of Diana Barrymore in the biopic Too Much, Too Soon (1958), but the film was not a success.

Malone appeared in Warlock (1959), but went back to guest starring on such television programs as Cimarron City (“A Respectable Girl” (1958) and Alcoa Theatre (“The Last Flight Out” (1960).

Malone made a third film with Stack, The Last Voyage (1960), and a third with Hudson, The Last Sunset (1961).

She was working more in television: Route 66 (“Fly Away Home” (1961), Checkmate (“The Heat of Passion” (1961), Death Valley Days (“The Watch” 1961), The Dick Powell Theatre (“Open Season” 1961), Dr Kildare (“The Administrator” 1962), General Electric Theatre (“Little White Lie” 1961, “Somebody Please Help Me” 1962), The Untouchables with Stack (“The Floyd Gibbons Story” 1962), and The Greatest Show on Earth (“Where the Wire Ends” 1963).

Malone was in the first Beach Party (1963) movie, doing most of her scenes with Robert Cummings.

She made an uncredited cameo in Fate Is the Hunter (1964).