The death of Dorothy Malone on Jamuary 19, 2018 in Dallas, Texas has been announced.
Signed at a young age by RKO, Dorothy later said,
“The only thing I did at RKO of any note was lose my Texas accent.”
A subsequent three year contract at Warner Bros. gave her a good scene as a bespectacled bookstore clerk with Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP .
A typical Howard Hawks scene. Bogart , as Philip Marlowe , is keeping an eye on the shop opposite when he enters the rare book shop across the street.
When Dorothy tells Marlowe that the shop opposite won’t close for another hour, he says he can wait in his car, but Dorothy likes the look of him.
She puts the ‘Closed ‘ sign on the shop door, takes off her glasses and loosens her hair, saying, “Looks like we’re closed for the rest of the afternoon.”
But even working with Hawks and Bogart didn’t really advance Dorothy’s career.
By the 1950s, Dorothy had plenty of film experience and landed in quite a few westerns including two with Randolph Scott, THE NEVADAN and one of my favourites, TALL MAN RIDING.
Dorothy costarred with Fred MacMurray in QUANTEZ, and with Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn in WARLOCK.
Other westerns included TENSION AT TABLE ROCK and SOUTH OF ST. LOUIS.
By 1954, Dorothy had changed from brunette to blonde for YOUNG AT HEART in which she played Doris Day’s sister.
But none of the roles were particularly demanding – until WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956) which turned out to be a big success and an unexpected Oscar winner as Best Supporting Actress for Dorothy.
As the self destructive daughter of oil baron Robert Keith, and the sister of playboy Robert Stack, Dorothy made Hollywood sit up and take notice.
Dorothy and Robert Stack stole the lush melodrama from the nominal stars, Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall.
In addition to the powerful performance from Dorothy, Robert Stack also deserved the Oscar in my opinion.
Neither Dorothy or Robert were able to repeat their electrifying performances in subsequent films.
(Nominated Robert Stack lost to Anthony Quinn in LUST FOR LIFE.)
Dorothy played the first wife of Lon Chaney opposite James Cagney in MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES (1957), and she played Diana Barrymore, the tragic daughter of John Barrymore ( played by Errol Flynn) in TOO MUCH TOO SOON.
The last big film I remember Dorothy in is THE LAST VOYAGE (1960) – Dorothy’s third film with Robert Stack.
Dorothy spent most of her time in this film trapped on a sinking liner, with Stack playing her husband who tries to save her with the help of Edmund O’Brien.
Dorothy made two more films with Rock Hudson, THE TARNISHED ANGELS and THE LAST SUNSET.
Dorothy had been making TV appearances from the 50s, and in 1964 she landed a leading role in what became a very successful series, PEYTON PLACE. She played Constance MacKenzie ( played by Lana Turner in the film version) for 4 years.
Married three times, Dorothy had two daughters with her first husband, Jacques Bergerac.
Dorothy moved back to Dallas in 1971 where she had been raised.
I’ve enjoyed so many of Dorothy’s films but it is her performance as Mary Lee Hadley in Written on the Wind that showed the depth of her acting ability.