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Linda Darnell

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Biography

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Actor
Born:
October 16, 1923 in Dallas, TX
Death:
April 10, 1965 in Chicago, IL
Biography
Daughter of a Texas postal clerk, actress Linda Darnell trained to be a dancer, and came to Hollywood's attention as a photographer's model. Though only 15, Darnell looked quite mature and seductive in her first motion picture, Hotel For Women (1937), and before she was twenty she found herself the leading lady of such 20th Century-Fox male heartthrobs as Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda. Weary of thankless good-girl roles, Darnell scored a personal triumph when loaned out to United Artists for September Storm (1944), in which she played a "Scarlett O'Hara" type Russian vixen. Thereafter, 20th Century-Fox assigned the actress meatier, more substantial parts, culminating in the much-sought-after leading role in 1947's Forever Amber. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz followed up this triumph by giving Darnell two of her best parts--Paul Douglas' "wrong side of the tracks" wife in A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and Richard Widmark's racist girlfriend in No Way Out (1950) (though befitting her star status, Darnell "reformed" at the end of both films). When her Fox contract ended in 1952, Darnell found herself cast adrift in Hollywood, the good roles fewer and farther between; by the mid-1960s, she was appearing as a nightclub singer, touring in summer theatre, and accepting supporting roles on television. Tragically, Darnell died in 1965 of severe burns suffered in a house fire. Ironically, Darnell had a lifelong fear of dying in flames, speaking publicly of her phobia after appearing in a "burned at the stake" sequence in the 1946 film Anna and the King of Siam. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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