Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A Tribute to Peggie Castle



Peggie Castle



(December 22, 1927 – August 11, 1973)

“Let's face it. Nobody likes nice women on the screen. Nice women are dull.”


Peggie Castle, an American actress was born Peggy Blair in Appalachia in Wise County, southwestern Virginia.

Early years


Peggy Castle took lessons in drama when she was 8 years old and she attended Mills College for two years.

Radio


Castle's first work as an actress came in the soap opera Today's Children. A spot on Radio Theatre in 1947 led to a screen test offer from 20th Century Fox.



Film


Castle was discovered by a talent scout supposedly while eating a shrimp cocktail in the seafood bar of the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles.

She was signed to a seven-year contract with Universal-International and made her film debut in the 1947 film When a Girl's Beautiful.

In 1949, she was named "Miss Cheesecake" by the Southern California Restaurant Association.

Later that year, the Junior Chamber of Commerce named Castle "Miss Three Alarm."






In her films Peggy Castle often played the role of the other (or at least somebody's) "woman" rather than a girlfriend or spouse. Her acting career tended to be confined mostly "B"-grade action, dramas or western films such as;

  • Harem Girl (1952) 
  • Wagons West (1952) 
  • The Prince Who Was a Thief (1951) 
  • Jesse James' Women (1954) 


Better quality roles would come with such films as;

  • Payment on Demand (1951) with Bette Davis 
  • 99 River Street (1953) with John Payne 
  • I, the Jury (1953) 
  • The White Orchid (1954) 
  • Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman 
  • Seven Hills of Rome / Arrivederci Roma (1957) with Mario Lanza



Television


In the 1950s, Peggy Castle appeared in on Fireside Theatre, Cheyenne, The Restless Gun and in the Perry Mason episode (1957) "The Case of the Negligent Nymph" in which she played defendant Sally Fenner.





For three seasons, from 1959 to 1962, she co-starred in the television western series Lawman, playing the role of The Birdcage saloon owner, Lily Merrill. the dance-hall hostess and romantic interest for Marshal Dan Troop. Commenting on this role, Peggy Castle observed, "For the first time in my life I'm a singer,” - at least according to her producer! Until then she never had a singing lesson!






In 1962 she had to all intents and purposes left the world of show business. Her final onscreen role was a guest appearance in a 1966 episode of The Virginian.


Personal life

Castle was married four times: 
  • Revis Call, 1945 - 1950 (divorced) 
  • Universal publicist Robert H. Raines, 1951 - 1954 (divorced) 
  • Producer/director William McGarry, 1955 – 1969 (divorced) 
  • Arthur Morganstern 1971 until Morganstern's death in April 1973 

Later years

For her contribution to the television industry, Peggie Castle has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In her later years, Castle developed alcoholism. It has been reported that in 1969 she attempted suicide and was later committed to California's Camarillo State Hospital for her alcoholism, but she regressed after her release. In 1973 her body was found on the couch of her Hollywood apartment by her third husband. Peggy Castle had died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1973 only 45 years of age.





For me Peggy Castle stands out for her roles in two important science fiction films from the 1950s;

Invasion U.S.A. (1952): A bizarre and entertaining Cold War-themed movie featuring a World War III scenario. Peggy Castle as Carla Sanford develops a relationship with cynical and glib TV reporter Vince Potter played by Gerald Mohr.

Peggy Castle’s character, Carla Sanford:

“It's a nightmare, this can't be happening!”




Beginning of the End (1957) Peggy Castle gives an impressive performance as Audrey Ames, an enterprising photo-journalist, who together with scientist, Dr. Ed Wainwright (Peter Graves) tries to tackle the threat posed to Chicago by giant grasshoppers which have been accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm.

On one occasion when Peggy Castle was confronted with a terrible B-movie, a terrible script and lousy working conditions reportedly commented: 



“Who do I have to sleep with to get out of this picture?”





Peggy Castle in Invasion USA 1952




©Christo Christopoulos 2016