Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Godspeed Lola Albright

Lola Albright, who played Edie Hart on Peter Gunn and appeared in such films as Kid Galahad (1962) and Lord Love a Duck (1966), died on March 23 2017 at the age of 92.

Lola Albright was born on July 20 1924 in Akron, Ohio. Her parents, John Paul and Marion Albright were gospel singers, so that she was exposed to music throughout her childhood. She studied piano from an early age, for a total of about 20 years. Miss Albright attended King Grammar School and West High School in Akron. When she was 15 she started work as a  receptionist at radio station WAKR in Akron. She moved to Cleveland when she was 18 and worked as a stenographer at  radio station WTAM. It was in Cleveland that she first performed as a singer on the radio, making her debut on radio station WJW. She married an announcer at the station and moved to Chicago where she became a model. It was a photographer who suggested that she should try working as a movie actress.

Lola Albright made her film debut in a small, uncredited role in The Unfinished Dance in 1947. She appeared in similarly small, uncredited roles in The Pirate (1948), Easter Parade (1948), and Julia Misbehaves (1948). She had somewhat substantial roles in Champion (1949) and Tulsa (1949).  With Bodyhold (1949) she played her first, female lead role. She finished out the Forties appearing in The Good Humor Man (1950), Beauty on Parade (1950), When You're Smiling (1950), The Killer That Stalked New York (1950), and Sierra Passage (1950).

In the Fifties Lola Albright's career shifted towards television. She made her television debut in 1941 in an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre. She guest starred on such shows as Lux Video Theatre, Four Star Revue, Tales of Tomorrow, Racket Squad, Duffy's Tavern, It's a Great Life, Gunsmoke, The Red Skelton Show, The Thin Man, and Michael Shayne.  From 1955 to 1957 she had a recurring role on The Bob Cummings Show. It was in 1958 that she began playing the role of Edie Hart on the detective show Peter Gunn. Edie was a singer at the nightclub Mother's, as well as Peter Gunn's girlfriend. She was nominated in 1959 for the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series. She continued to appear in movies, including such films as Arctic Flight (1952), The Silver Whip (1953), Treasure of Ruby Hills (1955), The Tender Trap (1955), Pawnee (1957), The Monolith Monsters (1957), and Seven Guns to Mesa (1958).

In the Sixties, Lola Albright continued to appear in both films and television. She played the lead role in the film A Cold Wind in August (1961). She also appeared in the films Kid Galahad (1962), Les félins (1964), Lord Love a Duck (1966), The Way West (1967), The Money Jungle (1967), Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968), and The Impossible Years (1968). On television she had a recurring role on Peyton Place during the 1965-1966 season. She guest starred on such shows as The Detectives, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, My Three Sons, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr. Kildare, Wagon Train, Burke's Law, Rawhide, Laredo, Bonanza, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

From the Seventies into the Eighties, Miss Albright guest starred on such shows as Kojak, Medical Centre, McMillan & Wife, Columbo, The Incredible Hulk, Quincy M.E., and Airwolf.

In the wake of her success on Peter Gunn,  Lola Albright recorded two albums, Lola Wants You in 1957 and Dreamsville in 1959.

Chances are very good Lola Albright will always be remembered best as Edie on Peter Gunn. Beautiful, sultry and gifted with a mellifluous voice, she was certainly perfect for the role. While she may be best remembered as Edie, however, Lola Albright could play a variety of roles. In A Cold Wind in August she played an unbalanced stripper who seduced a teenager. In the classic boxing drama Champion she played a married woman who pursued boxer Midge Kelly (played by Kirk Douglas). In The Monolith Monsters she played teacher Cathy Barrett, the girlfriend of geologist and the film's hero Dave Miller (played by Grant Williams). In Les Félins she played a widow and a femme fatale with murderous intentions. Lola Albright was not just a pretty face with a sultry voice. She was a versatile actress who play roles from relatively ordinary women (although still extraordinarily beautiful by virtue of being played by Lola Albright) to washed-up strippers to femmes fatales.

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