Actress. A beautiful blue-eyed brunet (later a blonde), she is remembered for her B movie roles as alluring harem girls and saloon dancers in American films of the 1950s and early 1960s. The daughter of an oil executive and a psychotherapist, she suffered from severe polio from the age of nine, which denied her a hoped-for dancing career. For several years, she worked hard to rehabilitate her limbs from paralysis through Hawaiian massages, hot water soakings, and swimming, and after three years she returned to school with no difficulties. At the age of 17, she ran away from home and performed with the Cole Brothers Circus but her mother found her and brought her back home. With her parents’ encouragement, she attended the University of Southern California from where she graduated with a Bachelors Degree in International Law. Afterwards, she joined the Conover Agency as an advertising model and, at the same time, was promoted by famed cartoonist and writer Al Capp, becoming the inspiration for the ‘Stupefyin’ Jones’ character in his “L’il Abner” cartoon strip. As the result of a Kodak advertisement for bubble bath on the back page of the Hollywood Reporter, she was spotted by Paramount and signed to a contract but was relegated to walk-ons and bit parts. In 1952 she was signed by Universal Studios and appeared in “Back at the Front” (1952). One of her most memorable roles was the Venusian queen ‘Allura’ in the 1953 comedy “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars.” She went on to appear in “The Veils of Bagdad” (1953), “Destry” (1954), “Son of Sinbad” (1955), and “The Return of Jack Slade” (1955). Her hottest and most glamorous film was “The She Devil” (1957) followed by “Jungle Heat” (1957). During this time she made numerous television appearances, including “Climax!” (1955), “The Millionaire” (1957), “The Texan” (1959), “Sugarfoot” (1959), “Rawhide” (1969 to 1961), “Laramie” (1960), “Bronco” (1960), “Klondike” (1960 to 1961), and “Perry Mason” (1962). She made her final film appearance in the 1963 John Wayne Western classic “McLintock,” after which she retired from acting except for an occasional television programs, her last one being “It Takes a Thief” (1968). She was married three times, first to Reese Hale Taylor, Jr. (1960 to 1961), George Shepard (1965 to 1966), and Vincent J. Conti (1967 until her death). In the 1960s she was diagnosed with cancer and following a long struggle she died at the age of 43.
- April, 13, 1927
- May, 10, 1970