Gloria Grahame, who slew audiences with unforgettable turns as femme fatales in iconic film noir movies, would have been 100 years old today.
Born on November 28, 1923, in Los Angeles, Gloria Hallward entered this world as the daughter of Reginald Hallward, an architect and author, and Jeanne McDougall, an actress known as Jean Grahame. With her mother as her acting coach, Grahame began performing at a young age, eventually making her way to Broadway.
Even in her early years, critics noticed her captivating sensuality, which likely caught the attention of MGM’s Louis B. Mayer. She was signed to MGM in 1944, at age 19.
Of course, as the holiday season unfolds, Grahame’s most-seen film, 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life, will fill our TV screens and local theaters. Gloria Grahame is remembered for her portrayal of Violet Bick, the town’s seductress. After getting a bit of a… reputation, Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey helps Violet get a fresh start in New York City.
Gloria Grahame’s Reign as the Queen of Film Noir
In 1947, her contract was sold to RKO, where she had a notable role in the B-thriller Crossfire alongside Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan. Audiences were captivated by her performance as a disillusioned dance hall girl who bore witness to a shocking murder.
Grahame earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the role but lost out to Celeste Holm. She ultimately secured her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful.
Following her memorable appearance alongside Humphrey Bogart in 1950’s In A Lonely Place, she gained prominence with notable film noirs such as 1952’s Sudden Fear and 1954’s Human Desire, opposite Glenn Ford.
Grahame continued to enjoy success in film and TV through the 1970s. Her career abruptly ended in 1980 when she succumbed to stomach cancer. However, her remarkable performances on screen continued to captivate audiences through late-night TV and revival houses.
Over the decades, she’s become a cornerstone of film noir. Of course, she is often cited as the top femme fatale of the genre.
TCM Will Pay Tribute to the Noir Icon Tonight
Tonight Turner Classic Movies is paying tribute to Gloria Grahame on what would have been her 100th birthday. The lineup for the evening consists of five films. It kicks off with two film noir classics directed by Fritz Lang and starring Grahame alongside Glenn Ford: 1953’s The Big Heat and 1954’s Human Desire.
The night continues with 1954’s The Naked Alibi, a noir film with Sterling Hayden. Next is the British crime film The Good Die Young (also from 1954), featuring Laurence Harvey and Joan Collins. Finally, the night concludes with 1979’s Chilly Scenes of Winter. It’s a romantic comedy starring John Heard and Mary Beth Hurt, and one of Grahame’s final film appearances. TCM’s Gloria Grahame tribute begins tonight at 8 pm EST.
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