Monday, January 22, 2018

Godspeed Dorothy Malone

Dorothy Malone, who played the Acme Book Shop owner in The Big Sleep (1946), Marylee Hadley in Written on the Wind (1956), and Constance Mackenzie on the TV show Peyton Place, died on January 19 2018 at the age of 93.

Dorothy Malone was born Dorothy Maloney on January 30 1924 in Chicago. The family moved to Dallas, Texas when she was only around three years old. She attended Southern Methodist University where, in 1942, she was seen in a school play by an RKO talent scout. She signed with RKO, who used her primarily in minor roles in such films as Gildersleeve on Broadway (1943), The Falcon and the Co-eds (1943), Higher and Higher (1943), Seven Days Ashore (1944), and Youth Runs Wild (1944). After leaving RKO she played a small part in the Boston Blackie film One Mysterious Night (1944).

Dorothy Malone then signed with Warner Bros., who changed her surname from "Maloney" to "Malone". Warner Bros. also utilised her much better than RKO had. She had a brief, if highly visible role as the owner of the Acme Book Shop in The Big Sleep. With Two Guys from Texas (1948) she played the female lead in a film for the first time. At Warner Bros. she also appeared in such films as Night and Day (1946), To the Victor (1948), One Sunday Afternoon (1948), South of St. Louis (1949), and Colorado Territory (1949). After Colorado Territory Miss Malone left Warner Bros. and went freelance. She finished the Forties appearing in such films as The Nevadan (1950), Convicted (1950), and The Killer That Stalked New York (1950).

In the Fifties Dorothy Malone appeared in the Martin and Lewis films Scared Stiff (1953) and Artists and Models (1955). In the early part of the decade she appeared in such movies as The Bushwhackers (1951), Torpedo Alley (1952), Jack Slade (1953), The Lone Gun (1954), Private Hell 36 (1954), The Fast and the Furious (1955), and Tension at Table Rock (1956). After years of playing wives and sweethearts, in the mid-Fifties Miss Malone dyed her hair blonde and sought to change her image. She was cast as the alcoholic and nymphomaniac Marylee Hadley in Written in the Wind for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She finished out the decade appearing in such films as Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), The Tarnished Angels (1957),  Warlock (1959), and The Last Voyage (1960). Miss Malone made her television debut in an episode of The Philco Television Playhouse in 1951. In the Fifties she guest starred on such shows as Kraft Television Theatre, Omnibus, Four Star Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, The Loretta Young Show, Cimarron City, and Alcoa Theatre.

In the Sixties Dorothy Malone played book store owner Constance Mackenzie on the night time soap opera Peyton Place. She guest starred on such shows as Route 66, Death Valley Days, The Dick Powell Show, Dr. Kildare, and The Untouchables. She appeared in the films The Last Sunset (1961), Beach Party (1963), and Fate is the Hunter (1964).

In the Seventies Miss Malone guest starred on such TV shows as The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, Ellery Queen, Police Woman, The Streets of San Francisco, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Flying High, Vega$, Condominium, and The Littlest Hobo. She appeared in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man and the television reunion movie Murder in Peyton Place. She appeared in the films The Man Who Would Not Die (1975), Abduction (1975), Golden Rendezvous (1977), Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979), Winter Kills (1979), and The Day Time Ended (1979).

In the Eighties Dorothy Malone guest starred on the TV show Matt Houston and appeared in the television reunion movie Peyton Place: The Next Generation. She appeared in the films The Being (1983) and Descanse en piezas (1987). She made her last appearance on screen in Basic Instinct in 1992.

Dorothy Malone was, quite simply, an incredible actress. She played what was easily the sexiest character in The Big Sleep, no small achievement given Lauren Bacall and Martha Vickers were also in the film. What made the Acme Book Shop owner so sexy wasn't the way she looked (although Dorothy Malone was certainly beautiful), but the way she spoke, the way she moved, and the way she behaved. Quite simply, Dorothy Malone endowed the character with a good deal of sex appeal in only a brief time on screen. Of course, this was nothing unusual for Dorothy Malone. She had a talent for fully realising characters, even if she was only given a few minutes on screen. In the two-part Route 66 episode "Fly Away Home" she played a nightclub singer who was still in love with her ex-husband. In Artists and Models she played level-headed comic book artist Abigail Parker. In Tip on a Dead Jockey she played a woman whose husband becomes involved in some very shady business. Miss Malone also played historical characters during her career, including Lon Chaney's wife Cleva Creighton Chaney in Man of a Thousand Faces and actress Diana Barrymore in Too Much Too Soon. Dorothy Malone was exceeding talented, and could play a wide array of roles, from the wives and sweethearts of her early years to the more complex characters of her later years.

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