Evelyn Keyes (Evelyn Louise Keyes)

Evelyn Keyes

Evelyn Keyes was born in Port Arthur, Texas, to Omar Dow Keyes and Maude Ollive Keyes, the daughter of a Methodist minister. After Omar Keyes died when she was three years old, Keyes moved with her mother to Atlanta, Georgia, where they lived with her grandparents. As a teenager, Keyes took dancing lessons and performed for local clubs such as the Daughters of the Confederacy. A chorus girl by age 18, Keyes was put under contract by Cecil B. DeMille. After a handful of B movies at Paramount Pictures, she landed her most notable role, that of Scarlett O’Hara’s sister Suellen in Gone with the Wind (1939). Columbia Pictures signed her to a contract. In 1941, she played an ingenue in Here Comes Mr. Jordan. She spent most of the early 1940s playing leads in many of Columbia’s B dramas and mysteries. She appeared as the female lead opposite Larry Parks in Columbia’s blockbuster hit The Jolson Story (1946). She followed this up with an enjoyable minor screwball comedy, The Mating of Millie, with Glenn Ford. She was then in a 1949 role as Kathy Flannigan in Mrs. Mike. Evelyn Keyes’ last major film role was a small part as Tom Ewell’s vacationing wife in The Seven Year Itch (1955), which starred Marilyn Monroe. Keyes officially retired in 1956, but continued to act.

She was married to Barton Oliver Bainbridge Sr. from 1938 until his death from suicide in 1940. Later, she married and divorced director Charles Vidor (1943–1945), actor/director John Huston (23 July 1946 – February 1950), and bandleader Artie Shaw (1957–1985). Keyes said of her many relationships, “I always took up with the man of the moment and there were many such moments.” While married to Huston, the couple adopted a Mexican child, Pablo, whom Huston had discovered while on the set of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Her autobiography, Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister: My Lively Life In and Out of Hollywood, was published in 1977. Keyes expressed her opinion that Mrs. Mike was her best film. She also wrote of the personal cost she paid by having an abortion just before Gone with the Wind was to begin filming, as the experience left her unable to have children. Among the many Hollywood affairs she recounted in “Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister” were those with producer Michael Todd (who left Evelyn for Elizabeth Taylor), Glenn Ford, Sterling Hayden, Dick Powell, Anthony Quinn, David Niven and Kirk Douglas. She had to fend off Harry Cohn’s advances during her career in Columbia. Evelyn Keyes was a registered Democrat who supported the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Born

  • November, 20, 1916
  • USA
  • Port Arthur, Texas

Died

  • July, 04, 2008
  • USA
  • Montecito, California

Cause of Death

  • uterine cancer and Alzheimer's disease

Cemetery

  • Santa Barbara Cemetery
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • USA

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