Friday, February 19, 2010

Actress Betty Lou Keim R.I.P.

Betty Lou Keim, who played Frank Sinatra's wild child niece in Some Came Running, passed on January 27 at the age of 71. The cause was lung cancer.

Betty Lou Keim was born on September 27, 1938 in Malden, Massachusetts. She started acting while very young, making her Broadway debut at the age of seven in the play Strange Fruit. In 1948 she appeared in a revival of Crime and Punishment. In 1949 she was on Broadway once again, in the play Texas, Li'l Darlin'. It was in 1949 that she made her motion picture debut, in Doorway to Death. She appeared in three episodes of the anthology series Armstrong Circle Theatre, an episode of Lights Out, and there episodes of Hallmark Hall of Fame.

In 1953 Betty Lou Keim played Peggy Allison in the short lived series My Son Jeep. Later that year she appeared on Broadway again in The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker. Over the next few years Keim appeared in episodes of  Philco Television Playhouse, The Alcoa Hour, and Goodyear Televison Playhouse.  In 1955 she made one last appearance on Broadway, in the play A Roomful of Roses.

Betty Lou Keim would become an exception to the rule in that she was actually under contract to two different studios, MGM and 20th Century Fox. For MGM she appeared in These Wilder Years in 1956. For Fox she reprised her role in the adaptation of A Roomful of Roses, Teenage Rebel, also released in 1956. It was the first of two times she would play a rebellious teenager. Keim continued to appear on television, in episodes of Robert Montgomery Presents, The U. S. Steel Hour, and Matinee Theatre In 1957 she played a small role in the film The Wayward Bus. It was in 1958 that she played the role for which she is perhaps best known, playing Frank Sinatra's reckless niece in Some Came Running.

Afterwards Keim's career unfolded completely on television. She guest starred on Yancy Derringer, General Electric Theatre, and Riverboat. Her last acting job was as a regular on The Deputy. It was in 1959 that she married actor Warren Berlinger and retired from acting. They would have four children together.

I must confess I have seen very little of  Betty Lou Keim's performances. I was born long after she left Broadway and the anthology shows on which she appeared were long off the air by the time I was born. All I have seen of her acting are a movies and her stint on The Deputy. That having been said, I have been impressed by what I have seen of Betty Lou Keim's acting. Indeed, there are very few actresses who could have been as convincing as rebellious teenage girls as she was. Her performances in both Teenage Rebel and Some Came Running were impressive.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Well, a google search brought me here. A nice tribute. I just saw a GE Theater episode from the mid 50's titled "The Hat With The Roses" with Gisele McKenzie, another actress I knew very little of. It was decent, and when I looked at IMDB, became intrigued by the idea that she quit the 'business', even though she was highly regarded, apparently. Anyways, thanks.