Saturday, December 06, 2008

Beverly Garland has died

I first saw her in person a couple of years ago, when she appeared at the Williamsburg Film Festival. I have a bit of video of her... unfortnately I was using a new digital camera and didnt' realize that if you held the camera sideways, the video would come out sideways...

I'm tempted to share it anyway...

Nevertheless, here is her obit.

Beverly Garland, versatile actress in film and TV, dies at 82

In a career spanning more than 50 years, she moved from B-movie cult stardom to scores of roles in television, notably on 'My Three Sons.' She also operated a namesake hotel in North Hollywood.
By Dennis McLellan
11:19 AM PST, December 6, 2008
Beverly Garland, whose long and varied acting career ranged from B-movie cult stardom in the 1950s portraying gutsy characters in movies such as "Not of This Earth" and "It Conquered the World" to playing Fred MacMurray's wife on the sitcom "My Three Sons," has died. She was 82.

Garland, who also was an involved owner of her namesake hotel in North Hollywood, died Friday evening after a lengthy illness at her Hollywood Hills home, said son-in-law Packy Smith.

In a more-than-50-year career that began with her film debut in a supporting role in the 1950 film noir classic "D.O.A.," Garland appeared in about 40 films and scores of television shows.

She was once called "one of the finest actresses in this windblown theater" by former Times TV critic Cecil Smith and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1955 for her performance as a leukemia patient in the pilot of the medical drama "Medic."

"Not only was she a terrific actress, she was one of those special gals who was fun to work with," said Mike Connors, who appeared with Garland in director Roger Corman's low-budget 1955 film "Swamp Women" and later worked with her when she made guest appearances on his TV detective series "Mannix."

"She had a great sense of humor, she was very thoughtful and had a great laugh," Connors said. "You couldn't help but laugh with her when she laughed."

Despite her reputation for doing heavy drama -- including playing a suicidal alcoholic in a "Dr. Kildare" episode -- Garland showed her lighter side playing Bing Crosby's wife in the short-lived situation comedy "The Bing Crosby Show" in the mid-'60s.

She returned to comedy in "My Three Sons" as the second wife of MacMurray's widower Steve Douglas during the last three seasons of the popular series that aired from 1960 to 1972.

"The only thing that bothers me is that everybody loves this character so much," Garland told The Times in 1969. "I don't remember anybody loving me all that much."

Garland also played her fair share of mothers in TV series. She was Stephanie Zimbalist's in the 1980s in "Remington Steele," Kate Jackson's in the 1980s in "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" and Teri Hatcher's in the 1990s in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." She also had recurring roles in the TV shows "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," "7th Heaven" and the ABC soap opera "Port Charles."

Early in her career, Garland played undercover New York police officer Casey Jones in the 1957-59 syndicated series "Decoy," reportedly the first American TV police series built around a female protagonist. Garland's big-screen credits included roles in films such as "The Joker Is Wild" (1957), "Pretty Poison" (1968), "Where the Red Fern Grows" (1974) and "Airport 1975" (1974).

But her starring roles in low-budget exploitation films in the '50s such as "The Alligator People" gave her an enduring cult status.

For Corman, she starred in five films in the 1950s: "Gunslinger," "It Conquered the World," "Naked Paradise," "Not of This Earth" and "Swamp Women."

"Part of what made her a favorite of B-movie fans was that she was seldom a shrinking violet in her movies," Tom Weaver, a science fiction and fantasy film expert, told The Times. "In fact, she was just the opposite."

In "It Conquered the World," "she grabs a rifle and goes gunning for the monster in its own lair. In 'The Alligator People,' she chases an alligator man into the swamp, and so on," he said.

"She didn't play the demure, reserved heroines very well," Weaver said.

Garland acknowledged that in a 1985 interview with Weaver for Fangoria magazine.

"I never considered myself very much of a passive kind of actress," she said. "I was never very comfortable in love scenes, never comfortable playing a sweet, lovable lady."

She was born Beverly Fessenden in Santa Cruz, Calif., on Oct. 17, 1926, and grew up in Glendale, where she studied acting in high school and began working in little theater, which she continued after the family moved to Phoenix. She became Beverly Garland when she married actor Richard Garland; they were divorced in 1953 after less than four years of marriage. An earlier, brief marriage to Bob Campbell when she was 18 also ended in divorce.

In 1960, she married real estate developer Fillmore Crank, a widower with two children, Cathleen and Fillmore Jr. They had two more children, Carrington Goodman and James Crank.

In 1972, the couple built their mission-style hotel in North Hollywood, now called Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn. They also built a hotel in Sacramento that bore Garland's name in the '80s but later sold it.

Garland, whose husband died in 1999, remained involved in running the North Hollywood hotel.

She was the honorary mayor of North Hollywood and served on the boards of the California Tourism Corp. and the Greater Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Garland is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.

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