Notable Deaths

March 20, 2009

BETSY BLAIR, 85

Actress nominated for Oscar in 'Marty'

Betsy Blair, who played the shy teacher who meets Ernest Borgnine's lonely Bronx butcher at the Stardust Ballroom in the 1955 movie Marty, died March 13 of cancer at a London hospital.

The red-haired actress, who was blacklisted in Hollywood in the 1950s while married to screen legend Gene Kelly and later was married to director Karel Reisz, earned an Academy Award nomination as best actress in a supporting role as Clara Snyder in Marty.

Ms. Blair, who had attended a weekly Marxist study group in New York City when she was 16, later came under the scrutiny of the FBI for her association with left-wing organizations. But Ms. Blair's ideals "had always been American, not Russian," she wrote in her 2003 memoir, The Memory of All That. And her "battles and contribution - small as it may have been - were against racism, for strong unions, for the rights of women; to put it simply, for democracy."

After her divorce from Mr. Kelly in 1957, she moved to Paris and went on to appear in Michelangelo Antonioni's Il Grido and several other films over the next few years, including Lies My Father Told Me, All Night Long and Sinilita.

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