'Days of Wine and Roses' co-star, Lee Remick, dies at 55 in Hollywood

July 03, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- Lee Remick, the alluring actress who gained fame and empathy as the haunting alcoholic in "Days of Wine and Roses," died yesterday at her home here of cancer.

The versatile performer, who was known for her talent in blending the innocence of youth and the sensuality of womanhood into a single dramatic commodity, was 55.

Tumors had been found on her kidneys and lungs in 1989 after she fell ill while making a film in France.

Ms. Remick's diversity as an actress was evident throughout what proved a lengthy career for a woman who died so young. Besides playing the alcoholic wife opposite Jack Lemmon in the 1962 "Wine and Roses," which brought her an Academy Award nomination, she played a nervous wreck in "The Women's Room," a tough piano coach in "The Competition," a nymphomaniac in "The Detective" and a rape victim in the remake of "The Letter."

Most recently, Miss Remick starred as the unfeeling mother to Marlee Matlin in the 1989 television movie "A Bridge to Silence."

The actress appeared in 28 motion pictures, including "A Face in the Crowd," "The Long Hot Summer," "Experiment in Terror," "Wild River," "Sanctuary," "The Wheeler Dealers," "Travelin' Lady," "Anatomy of a Murder," "Tribute" and "The Omen."

Among her leading men were Andy Griffith, Paul Newman, Orson Welles, James Stewart, George C. Scott, Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra.

-- Ms. Remick was born in Quincy, Mass. Her father was a department store owner, and her mother an actress.

While she was attending the fashionable Miss Hewitt's School in Manhattan and studying theater, someone -- she didn't remember who -- encouraged her to try out for a Broadway play called "Act Your Age." She added two years to her age, which got her a job but didn't help the play, which bombed.

She did summer stock with Rudy Vallee and in 1953 returned to New York to enroll in Barnard College. But by then the theater had captured her, and she began to appear in such early television dramas as "Playhouse 90."

Elia Kazan saw her in a TV play called "All Expenses Paid" and asked her to play Betty Lou, the predatory cheerleader in his acclaimed drama "A Face in the Crowd." She was just 22.

In 1964, she was cast alongside Angela Lansbury in the Stephen Sondheim musical, "Anyone Can Whistle." Her performance in the 1966 Broadway play "Wait Until Dark" brought her a Tony Award nomination. In 1974, she was cast in a London production of "Bus Stop."

After her marriage to British producer Kip Gowans in 1970 she lived for many years in London but sold that home and moved to the Los Angeles district of Brentwood to be nearer her film roles.

Besides her husband, Miss Remick is survived by daughter Kate Colleran Sullivan; son Matthew Remick Colleran; mother Pat Packard; and stepdaughters Justine Gowans Solly and Nicola Gowans.

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