Monday, August 1, 2016

Godspeed Gloria DeHaven

Gloria DeHaven, an MGM musical star who went onto numerous guest appearances on television, died July 30 2016 at the age of 91.

Gloria DeHaven was born July 23 1925 in Los Angeles. Her parents were vaudeville veterans and film actors Carter DeHaven and Flora Parker (sometimes billed as Mrs. Carter DeHaven). She and her brother, Carter DeHaven Jr., accompanied their parents on their various tours. Gloria DeHaven made her film debut when she was about eleven years old in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936).

It was in 1940 that Miss DeHaven was signed to MGM. Her earliest films for the studio, including Susan and God (1940), Keeping Company (1940), and The Penalty (1941), were dramas, but MGM soon learned her strength was in musicals. Her first musical for the studio was Best Foot Forward in 1943. She would appear in several more in the Forties, including Thousands Cheer (1943), Broadway Rhythm (1944), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), Step Lively (1944), Summer Holiday (1948), Yes Sir, That's My Baby (1949), and Summer Stock (1950). In Three Little Words (1950), which centred on the lives of songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, Miss DeHaven played her own mother, Flora Parker. She also appeared in films other than musicals, including The Thin Man Goes Home (1945), Between Two Women (1945), Scene of the Crime (1949), The Doctor and the Girl (1949), and The Yellow Cab Man (1950). In the Forties she also sang with various Big Bands,including the orchestras of Jan Savitt and Bob Crosby.

In the Fifties Gloria DeHaven appeared in such films as Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), Down Among the Sheltering Palms (1953), So This Is Paris (1954), and The Girl Rush (1955). As the movie musicals so popular in the Forties began disappearing in the Fifties, Gloria DeHaven's career shifted more and more to television. She made her television debut in an episode of The Alan Young Show in 1951. During the Fifties she made guest appearances on such shows as Appointment with Adventure, Robert Montgomery Presents, Producers' Showcase, The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen, The Rifleman, Johnny Ringo, and Wagon Train. She appeared on Broadway in Seventh Heaven in 1955.

In the Sixties Gloria DeHaven guest starred on Adventures in Paradise, The BBC Sunday-Night Play, The Defenders, The U.S. Steel Hour, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Burke's Law, Flipper, and Mannix. From 1966 to 1967 she had a recurring role on the soap opera As the World Turns.

In the Seventies Gloria DeHaven was a regular on the TV shows Nakia and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She guest starred on such shows as The Jimmy Stewart Show; Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law; Marcus Welby, M.D.; Gunsmoke; Movin' On; Quincy M.E.; Police Story; and Delta House. She appeared in the films Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) and Bog (1979).

In the Eighties Miss DeHaven was a regular on the soap opera Ryan's Hope and had a recurring role on Murder, She Wrote. She guest starred on Fantasy Island, Hart to Hart, Falcon's Crest, Mama's Family, The Love Boat, and Highway to Heaven. She appeared in the film Ladies on Sweet Street (1990).

In the Nineties Gloria DeHaven had a recurring role on the soap opera All My Children. She guest starred on the show Touched by an Angel. She appeared in the films Outlaws: The Legend of O.B. Taggart (1994) and Out to Sea (1997).

If ever there was a star meant for Hollywood musicals it was Gloria DeHaven. She was pretty and bubbly, and more importantly she was a good dancer and a fantastic singer. I have to think that had she been born a few years earlier she might well have been an even bigger musical star than she was. Miss DeHaven came of age just as the movie musical was beginning to fade. By the Fifties the sort of movie musicals once made by the studios were more or less a thing of the past. Regardless, Gloria DeHaven remains memorable in the musicals she made. She was also exuberant and a lot of fun to watch.

Fortunately Gloria DeHaven was also very versatile as an actress, to the point that she was able to have a very successful career in television. She played some very diverse roles on television. She was bisexual CB fanatic Annie "Tippy-toes" Wylie on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, office secretary for the Davis County Sheriff's Department on Nakia, and travel agent Phyllis Grant on Murder, She Wrote. In her various guest appearances on television she played everything from the wife of a dead, suspected horse thief on Wagon Train to an ex-wife suspected of murder (she was unknowingly married to a bigamist) on The Defenders. A fantastic star in movie musicals, Gloria DeHaven proved to be a very good character actress on television. While many stars of the classic musicals were as talented as Miss DeHaven, few were as adaptable.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

I recall a cute story from "The Merv Griffin Show" years ago. Guest Gloria mentioned that she and Merv had a date once in the 50s, but he never called her up for a second one. Merv said when John Payne answered the door he was intimidated. She laughed and said John was babysitting so she could have a night out. The glamour of Hollywood!