Saturday, August 27, 2011

Linda Darnell.

Linda Darnell (October 16, 1923 – April 10, 1965). By the age of 15, she signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. Her first film was, Hotel for Women (1939). A story about a girl, who travels to New York be with her boyfriend, a successful architect, who no longer in love with her. Her friends at a women's hotel, think that she is beautiful enough to be a top model. When her boyfriend wants to get back together with her, he finds his rivals standing in line.

Darnell, performed opposite Power, in the romantic comedy, Day Time Wife (1939). The story begins when a young wife starts to suspect the husband is cheating on her. Darnell, also has a married friend who helps feeds her suspicions. Linda, goes out looking for a job and becomes a secretary to another womanizer. As luck would have it, her husband and her boss, are business associates. That's when the film gets interesting. The film brought her lots of attention, but.. will never make the list of best comedies of the era or of the top ten films of, Tyrone Power or Linda Darnell.

She was next cast in the drama comedy, Star Dust(1939). Linda Darnell's character, is looking to be discovered. Her dreams begin to come true when Roland Young, ex-silent screen star and now movie studio talent scout, enters her diner looking for new talent. The film boosted Darnell's popularity, being nicknamed, "Hollywood's loveliest and most exciting star".

After performing in several small films, Darnell was cast in her first big film, performing again with Tyrone Power in, Brigham Young (1940), which was shot on location and was the most expensive film 20th Century Fox had yet produced.

Darnell, began working on the film, The Mark of Zorro (1940), in which she again co-starred as Power's love interest. A story begins when swordsman Diego Vega, returns to California from Madrid to reunite with his family. When he gets there, he finds that his father has been replaced by Alcalde Don Luis Quintero, who charges the people high taxes and punishment for those that can not afford to pay. Don Diego, keeps quiet that he is a skilled swordsman and pretends that he is a sophisticated wimp. Although.. he really is Zorro, who wears a mask to hide his identity.

The film received very little attention, unlike Darnell's next film, Blood and Sand (1941), which was shot on location in Mexico. Again she was re-teamed with Power, in the story of a young, naive bullfighter Juan Gallardo, who falls under the spell of a beautiful socialite. Damaging his marriage with Carmen, the girl who has loved him since childhood. It's not long before Juan, discovers the socialite was only using him until the tragic end.

Months passed by without any work, and in August 1941 she was cast in a supporting role in the musical, Rise and Shine (1941). The film was a setback in her career. In early 1942, Darnell filmed, The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe, another film that would not do much to improve her career. She soon realized that Darryl F. Zanuck had lost interest in her, and she was cast in roles that she hated. Eventually, she was loaned out for a supporting role in a B movie called, City Without Men.

In 1943, she was cast, uncredited, as the Virgin Mary in, The Song of Bernadette. By 1943, Darnell was growing tired of only being known for her beauty, instead of her acting talent. Her next performance was in, Sweet and Low-Down (1944). Everything changed for her when she was named one of the four most beautiful women in Hollywood, along with Hedy Lamarr, Ingrid Bergman and Gene Tierney in a 1944 edition of Look magazine. Afterwards, the studio allowed her to be loaned out for the lead in, Summer Storm. Portraying a seductive peasant girl, who takes three men to their end before she herself is doomed.

Darnell, wanted more recognition from the studio, which caused Darryl F. Zanuck to cast her in, Hangover Square (1945), playing a role she really wanted. In January 1945, she was added to the cast of the film noir, Fallen Angel (1945). Otto Priminger, had just finished the film noir "Laura" when he followed up with this film. The story has the same type of plot as in the film, "Laura". Many men become obsesed with beautiful a woman. The acting is marvelous, especially Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and all those wonderful character actors.

She went on location to Monument Valley, for the filming of the western, My Darling Clementine (1946), playing a role for which she lost twelve pounds. This John Ford film, is about Wyatt Earp and his run ins with the Clanton gang in the town, Tombstone, Arizona. The film's theme centers around Doc Holliday, Old Man Clanton, the Clanton sons, and Wyatt Earp and his family. The cast, acting and costumes are all very important in telling the story.

In 1947, Darnell won the starring role in the film, Forever Amber, based on a bestselling historical novel. The character, Amber, was named because of her hair color, and this is the only film which Darnel plays a redheaded peasant girl, who refuses to be destroyed by her poverty. She used her sexuality and her brains to become the King's consort.

She spent hours in fittings for costume change and her strict diet, resulted in exhaustion and a serious illness that caused her to collapse on the set. Darnell, was disappointed that the film did not give her the recognition she wanted.

The following year, Darnell performed in the comedy, Unfaithfully Yours (1948), The movie stars Rex Harrison, as Sir Alfred de Carter, a world famous symphony conductor who, is madly in love with his bride, Daphne. Alfred's in-laws August and Barbara, are played wonderfully by Rudy Vallee and Barbara Lawrence.

It's not long before August, shares with Alfred, the news that he had a detective follow Daphne, while Alfred was out of town. Alfred, is so outraged that everything goes wild from there. Eventually, Alfred is given reason to think that Daphne might have needed some spying on after all. At his concert that evening, Alfred conducts three different pieces and with each piece, Alfred imagines the revenge he will take out on his wife Daphne for her cheating.

Linda, was then was rushed into production of the comedy/drama, A Letter to Three Wives (1949).

A Letter to Three Wives, has a wonderful cast with: Ann Southern, Jeanne Craine, Linda Darnell, Paul Douglas, and Kirk Douglas. This is a story about a group of friends who has one female who captures the hearts of all the men, and all the women despise her. One day, when three wives are working on a volunteer project, they receive a special delivery letter, from the woman that all the men are in love with. In the letter the woman says, that she is moving away and she is taking one of their husbands with her. The women are worried that it might be one of their own husbands. Darnell's performance, won her the best reviews of her career. Darnell, had been expected to win an Academy Award nomination for, A Letter to Three Wives. When this did not happen, her career began to fade.

Please click here to learn more about Linda Darnell.


  1. Dawn, your blog post about Linda Darnell was fascinating, beautifully written, and lovingly illustrated with great photos and movie clips! It's a shame that in spite of Darnell's talent and beauty, it seems that there were many times where she couldn't quite reach the brass ring for one reason or another. Considering that today is Linda Darnell day at TCM's Summer Under the Stars and that one of the films being shown is one of my favorites, the neo-Gothic thriller HANGOVER SQUARE, it's sadly ironic that Darnell happened to die in a house fire. Ah, well, she certainly left her fans with plenty of fine performances to remember her by, and your wonderful post as well! (By the way, have I mentioned how much I like your blog's Betty Boop-centric new look?)

  2. Love this post - and I am a very avid fan of Miss Darnell - and to add to DorianTB's comment: Isn't even more "ironic" (well - kind of cynical..) that all her lifetime she was afraid of fire?

  3. DorianTB, Thank you. I really wanted to see the film, HANGOVER SQUARE. Unfortunately, I missed it.. I'm hoping it will be on TCM again soon. Blood and Sand, is my favorite Linda Darnell film, I have seen so far. I just love Betty Boop, she is so cute. I hope that she brings everyone a smile.

    Irene Palfy, Thank you.. Yes...It is so sad that a house fire, caused her death. What a terrible way to go.

  4. well, Dawn: Betty always puts a smile into my face.. Love the new image of your blog! (and your new Avatar..)


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