Sunday, October 22, 2006

THE HAT SQUAD: PHYLLIS KIRK

Actress Phyllis Kirk was probably best known for her role of Sue Allen in the 3D horror movie "House Of Wax" from 1953. But in Toobworld, she will be the personification of Nora Charles in the mystery-comedy series 'The Thin Man', based on the book by Dashiell Hammett.

Ms. Kirk died on Friday from a post-cerebral aneurysm at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, publicist Dale Olson said.

During the 1950s, Ms. Kirk often appeared in television anthologies before being cast opposite Peter Lawford in 'The Thin Man', which aired on NBC from 1957 to 1959.

The pair played sophisticated married sleuths Nick and Nora Charles in the series based on the book as well as the MGM movies that had starred William Powell and Myrna Loy. (Overall, Powell and Ms. Loy will always be THE Nick and Nora in the Multiverse, but it's hard to imagine a lovelier embodiment of Nora's televersion in the 1950s than Ms. Kirk.)

"The Thin Man," which brought Kirk an Emmy nomination in 1959, "was the most happy and interesting work experience I ever had as an actress," she told the Associated Press in 1984.

For me, she is also memorable in an episode of 'The Twilight Zone' - "A World Of His Own". As Victoria West, she is a perfect example of the power of the imagination, which is a gift as well as a curse handed down to the descendants of the demi-god Evander ('Hercules, The Legendary Journeys').

I don't want to give away anything more than that in case you've never seen the episode......

Known for being outspoken, Kirk worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to campaign against capital punishment in the late 1950s.

Before the California Assembly, she spoke against the death sentence of Caryl Chessman — convicted on 17 counts of kidnapping, robbery and sexual assault — and visited him in prison several times before he was executed in 1960. (His story was made into a TV movie, "Kill Me If You Can", which starred Alan Alda as Chessman. Looking at the cast list, I can't tell if Ms. Kirk was personified by a roman a clef character or not.)

"It made headlines, but it hurt her career too," Olson said. "She was very opinionated and very passionate about her beliefs."

After the Watts riots in 1965, Kirk helped establish and fund two preschool programs in the area.

She was born Phyllis Kirkegaard in Plainfield, N.J., and moved to New York in her late teens to study with the legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner.

After appearing in several New York plays, she made her movie debut in "Our Very Own" (1950) with Farley Granger and Ann Blyth. Kirk went on to appear in nearly 20 other films.

As her acting career waned in the 1960s, Kirk took stage roles and appeared as a celebrity contestant on game shows.

In the 1970s, she quit acting when she began having trouble walking, a problem she linked to a childhood bout with polio and meningitis.

Her second career — in public relations, mainly at CBS — provided "by far and away the best work relationship" she ever had, Kirk later recalled.

She is survived by a sister, Megan Kirk Flax of Santa Rosa, Calif.; two stepdaughters; and a step-granddaughter.

Kirk was cremated and her remains will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband, Warren Bush, a television producer she married in the 1960s. He died in 1991.

TV SERIES
"The Thin Man" (1957-1959) .... Nora Charles
"The Red Buttons Show" (1952) TV Series .... Regular performer (1955)

TV GUEST APPEARANCES
"The F.B.I."
- The Impersonator (1970) TV Episode .... Nora Tobin
"The Name of the Game"
- Give Till It Hurts (1969) TV Episode .... Edith
"The Twilight Zone"
- A World of his Own (1960) TV Episode .... Victoria West
"Zane Grey Theater"
- Set-Up (1960) TV Episode .... Ann Bagley
"The 20th Century-Fox Hour"
- Men in Her Life (1957) TV Episode .... Barbara Sherwood
"The Ford Television Theatre"
- Exclusive (1957) TV Episode .... Sarah Caine
- Mrs. Wane Comes to Call (1957) TV Episode .... Laura Chandler
- Duffy's Man (1956) TV Episode .... Julie
- Tin Can Skipper (1956) TV Episode .... Nora Corliss
"Robert Montgomery Presents"
- The Clay Pigeon (1957) TV Episode
- The Great Gatsby (1955) TV Episode .... Daisy Buchanan
- Richard Said No (1954) TV Episode
- World by the Tail (1953) TV Episode
"Errol Flynn Theater"
- Rustle of Silk (1957) TV Episode
- Declassee (????) TV Episode
"Playhouse 90"
- Made in Heaven (1956) TV Episode .... Nancy Tennant
"Climax!"
- Faceless Adversary (1956) TV Episode .... Barbara Phillips
- Gamble on a Thief (1956) TV Episode .... Amy Connor
- Edge of Terror (1955) TV Episode .... Mrs. Evans
"Celebrity Playhouse"
- Home Is the Soldier (1956) TV Episode
- Bachelor Husband (1956) TV Episode
"Schlitz Playhouse of Stars"
- The Waiting House (1956) TV Episode .... Barbara Hunter
"Studio One"
- Johnny August (1956) TV Episode .... Samantha Dolan
- Heart Song (1955) TV Episode .... April
- Prelude to Murder (1954) TV Episode .... Carol Chandler
- The Devil in Velvet (1952) TV Episode
"Letter to Loretta"
- Tropical Secretary (1955) TV Episode .... Jess Blackston
"Playwrights '56"
- The Battler (1955) TV Episode .... Girl Friend
"Appointment with Adventure"
- Forbidden Holiday (1955) TV Episode
"The Web"
- Crackpot (1954) TV Episode .... Meg Loomis
- The Closing Net (1953) TV Episode
"Goodyear Television Playhouse"
- The Power of Suggestion (1954) TV Episode
- The Inward Eye (1954) TV Episode
- Wish on the Moon (1953) TV Episode
"Justice"
- Keith's Case (1954) TV Episode
"Your Show of Shows"
- Episode dated 3 April 1954 (1954) TV Episode
"Suspense"
- The Moonstone (1954) TV Episode
"Lux Video Theatre"
- All Dressed in White (1954) TV Episode
- Listen, He's Proposing! (1953) TV Episode
"The United States Steel Hour"
- P.O.W. (1953) TV Episode
"Armstrong Circle Theatre"
- Candle in a Bottle (1953) TV Episode
"Tales of Tomorrow"
- Age of Peril (1952) TV Episode
"The Philco Television Playhouse"
- Rich Boy (1952) TV Episode .... Dolly

THE LEAGUE OF THEMSELVES
"Mantrap" (1971) TV Series .... Herself/panelist


BCnU......
Tele-Toby


[thanks to the IMDb.com]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what a woman, they don't make them like that any more.