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Gloria Grahame arrived on the twenty fifth Academy Awards on the verge of superstardom. It became as soon as March 19, 1953, and the 29-year-former had spent the old year melting away a tart-with-a-heart listing that took root with the 1944 sex comedy Blonde Fever and crystallized along side her sultry turn as Violet in It’s a Very perfect Life with James Stewart. She’d seemed in four foremost releases in 1952, including a reunion with Stewart in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Supreme Demonstrate on Earth — which one way or the opposite won Most fine Image. Her Hollywood company identified her arrival as a extreme actress, nominating her performance in The Homely and the Gorgeous for a Supporting Actress Oscar, her second occupation nod following 1947’s Crossfire.
When presenter Edmund Gwenn called Grahame’s name because the winner, nevertheless, she carried herself to the stage atop quivering heels, with a deer-in-the-headlights expression plastered on her face. She accredited with four phrases, “Thanks very grand,” prior to speeding out of ogle to a collective affectionate divulge from the audience. But this became as soon as no groundless modesty. “Gloria became as soon as one in every of the most insecure ladies I’ve ever met,” says Terry Moore, Grahame’s buddy and fellow Supporting Actress nominee. “I assumed Supporting became as soon as the roughly [award] you steal in case you’re older. I felt unqualified then, [but] Gloria in any appreciate times felt unqualified.”
What read in the room as a bashful neatly-known person’s transient (but no much less endearing) unusual of humility expeditiously snowballed correct into a scandal for Grahame. Rumors circulated that she rebuked the glory after getting under the affect of alcohol on the event, which introduced on her to day out and curse en route to narrate the prize — none of which became as soon as actual. She did, nevertheless, decline to take a seat down down for submit-victory interviews, a switch that didn’t court docket new fans amongst Tinseltown’s ruthless band of gossip columnists.
Sadly, following her Oscar victory, the sweetness Grahame embodied so artfully on conceal below no conditions reflected the personal turmoil festering below the outside. At 29, she became as soon as already two divorces deep correct into a turbulent romantic lifestyles: one from allegedly abusive actor Stanley Clements, the different from boozy Stand up With out a Motive director Nicholas Ray, with whom she had a son, Timothy. Her crippling self-doubt had long served as fodder for journalists. Hedda Hopper pegged her “a afraid little introvert [who’s] so self-aware it hurts,” while an April 1952 Los Angeles Conditions profile painted her as a helpless worrywart who begged crew participants to lambaste her performative flaws on website.
“I…. suffered from a terribly wicked attack of ‘Oscar Alarm,’ and I don’t deem I’ve recovered from it but,” Grahame told Silver Cowl magazine the summer season after she won the coveted award. She claimed to admire the accolade but admitted her son had appropriated the statuette for himself: “I almost haven’t seen my Oscar since I won it. Timmy performs with it in his room…. and takes it to mattress with him when he goes to sleep. As for what I deem of my cherished Oscar, all I will have the ability to narrate is that no fond mother takes away her child’s popular plaything!”
In subsequent years, her listing hardened because the mysterious wicked lady of noir cinema in motion photographs like The Mammoth Heat and Human Need — until, in 1954, she started filming the variation of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s musical Oklahoma! because the “lady who can’t narrate no,” Ado Annie, the same year she married author-producer Cy Howard.
“She became as soon as pushed and belittled [by the crew] and stumbled her map through as a consequence of she felt so inadequate doing a musical,” remembers Grahame’s niece Vicky Mitchum, claiming it became as soon as her aunt’s Oklahoma! colleagues who instigated a adverse working ambiance after discovering out Grahame couldn’t lift a tune despite her Academy-verified location. “All people told her how adverse she became as soon as.”
Grahame herself would per chance also simply no longer had been an innocent event. She allegedly assaulted costars Charlotte Greenwood and Gene Nelson on separate occasions, and purposely stepped on scene companions’ strains. Scarred by her Oklahoma! experience, Grahame scaled befriend her work to fancy her younger of us in 1955, divorced Howard in 1957, and married former stepson Tony Ray (son of Nicholas) in 1960. Later, when she battled Howard for custody of their daughter, Marianna Paulette, rumors circulated that Grahame had first and foremost seduced Tony when he became as soon as accurate thirteen — news that, along along side her tarnished professional repute, made her a Hollywood outcast.
Thus, Grahame dedicated herself to raising her rising family after having two sons with Tony. She popped up as an occasional customer on TV series, and when she stumbled on her map befriend to the huge conceal, it became as soon as on the cult circuit of schlocky exploitation motion photographs like Blood and Lace (1971) and Mama’s Dirty Ladies (1974). Peaceable, wherever Grahame went, her repute followed.
“[The Tony affair] had been a enormous scandal,” says actress Jane Alexander, who has fond recollections of working with Grahame on a 1972 stage production of William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life. “I indubitably became as soon as responsive to it after we labored collectively.”
Mary Steenburgen, who won an Oscar for 1980’s Melvin and Howard, echoed determined feelings about costarring with Grahame in that Jonathan Demme-directed drama. But Grahame played Steenburgen’s mother in that film, and Steenburgen felt “saddened” to explore the ageing neatly-known person in the characteristic.
“I felt humbled by the truth that she’d play a half that wasn’t so big,” she says. “I became as soon as younger [and] it became as soon as considerably sobering to me. I assumed, ‘Smartly, I wager that’s what lifestyles will likely be like for me, too, as soon as I’m in my 50s.’”
Within the final phases of her tumultuous relationship with present an explanation for industry, Grahame below no conditions reclaimed her former glory, however the Oscar itself stood proudly on her mantel, a long lasting reminder of her accomplishments. Sadly, on the present time its proper build is unknown. Nicca Ray, Nicholas’ daughter from the filmmaker’s submit-Grahame marriage to Betty Utey, claims it resides with Tony, who remained a presence in Grahame’s lifestyles after their 1974 divorce. (EW became as soon as unable to reach him for affirmation.) “I don’t know the crucial sides as to why she gave it to him,” Nicca says, “but why wouldn’t she? They cherished each and each heaps of.”
Amid the wilted stays of her passe occupation, nevertheless, Grahame’s personal lifestyles finally began to blossom. She met aspiring actor Peter Turner, almost three decades her junior, while she became as soon as in Britain working on a 1978 production of W. Somerset Maugham’s Rain, and their whirlwind romance solid a bond that carried through to Grahame’s 1981 loss of life at age fifty seven from cancer-related complications.
Turner wrote about their admire memoir in his memoir, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, which director Paul McGuigan tailored correct into a 2017 characteristic starring Annette Bening and Jamie Bell. The film doesn’t dwell on Grahame’s misfortunes as grand as it paints a celebratory listing of their time collectively, although Turner vividly remembers her proper-lifestyles gripes about the industry.
“She didn’t delight in the Hollywood machine,” he remembers. “She described it as a jungle, and she didn’t want to be one in every of the beasts.”