Born Monetta Eloyse Darnell in Dallas, Texas, on October 16, 1923 (some sources cite 1921 as her year of birth), actress Linda Darnell came from a large family. Her mother, a typical stage mother, pushed the strikingly beautiful child into modeling in the early 1930s and largely ignored her other children. The money earned from modeling jobs went to help support the family. As Darnell began to mature, her mother prompted her to take an interest in local theater. At 15 but lying about her age, she entered and won a "Gateway to Hollywood" talent search and was offered a contract with RKO Studios, but when studio executives found that Darnell was younger than she claimed, they sent her back to Dallas. Nonetheless, she was almost immediately put under contract by 20th Century Fox, and she moved to Hollywood in early 1939. A year later, Fox gave Darnell a starring role in Star Dust (1940; with John Payne), which became the picture that defined her career. Often cast in film noir and westerns, her years at Fox were her best, with big films such as Blood and Sand (1941; with Tyrone Power) and Forever Amber (1947; with Cornel Wilde).

Linda DarnellLola Marley and Linda DarnellMerle Robertson and Linda Darnell

LEFT: Darnell in a 20th Century Fox photo from the mid 1940s. CENTER: With daughter Lola in the early 1950s. RIGHT: With third husband Merle "Robbie" Robertson around the time of their marriage in 1957

Against the wishes of Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, Darnell married Fox cameraman Peverell Marley, who was more than twice her age, in April 1943. The couple was unable to conceive, so they adopted daughter, Charlotte, whom Darnell nicknamed Lola, in January 1948 at the age of two weeks. After a rocky seven-year marriage during which Darnell became an alcoholic, she divorced Marley in 1951 after beginning an affair with producer and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. After more than a dozen years at Fox and while earning as much as $250,000 per year, she was never able to repeat the success she had in Star Dust, although she had developed into a fine actress. In order to shed the high salaries paid to its stars, the studio canceled her contract in September 1952 following the release of the low-budget noir thriller Night Without Sleep (1952; with Gary Merrill). Afterward, her star began to fade rapidly although she was still in her twenties. She soon found herself in lower budgeted faire as RKO's Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952; with Keith Andes) and Republic's Dakota Incident (1956; with Dale Robertson). Needing money, she became the spokesperson for Rhinegold Beer in 1953 and appeared in print ads for the brewery. She married Rhinegold brewery owner Philip Liebmann in 1954, but the marriage dissolved in December 1955.

the films of linda darnell

Day-Time Wife (1939)

Linda Darnell and Tyrone Power

Linda Darnell stars with Tyrone Power in the 20th Century Fox romantic comedy Day-Time Wife. This was Darnell's second film

Rise and Shine (1941)

George Murphy and Linda DarnellJack Oakie and Linda Darnell

LEFT: With George Murphy in the 20th Century Fox comedy Rise and Shine. RIGHT: With Jack Oakie

Fallen Angel (1945)

Linda Darnell and Dana Andrews

With Dana Andrews in the 20th Century Fox film noir thriller Fallen Angel

My Darling Clementine (1946)

Cathy Downs, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, J. Farrell MacDonald, and Henry Fonda

From John Ford's western My Darling Clementine with Cathy Downs, Victor Mature, J. Farrell MacDonald, and Henry Fonda

Forever Amber (1947)

John Russell and Linda DarnellLinda Darnell

LEFT: With John Russell in the 20th Century-Fox costume drama Forever Amber. RIGHT: Darnell and co-star Cornel Wilde found director Otto Preminger difficult to work with. The film went way over budget and lost a million dollars, a big sum in 1947

The Walls of Jericho (1948)

Linda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, and Kirk Douglas

Darnell portrays the manipulative wife of Kirk Douglas who secretly desires Cornel Wilde in the 20th Century Fox drama The Walls of Jericho

Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

Linda Darnell and Rex Harrison

From the 20th Century Fox romantic comedy Unfaithfully Yours with Rex Harrison

Slattery's Hurricane (1949)

John Russell and Linda Darnell

From the 20th Century Fox adventure Slattery's Hurricane with John Russell

No Way Out (1950)

Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, and Sidney Poitier

From 20th Century Fox noir thriller No Way Out with Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier

Two Flags West (1950)

Linda Darnell and Joseph Cotten

From the 20th Century Fox western Two Flags West with Joseph Cotten

The Lady Pays Off (1951)

Virginia Field and Linda Darnell

From Universal's comedy The Lady Pays Off with Virginia Field

The 13th Letter (1951)

Linda Darnell and Michael Rennie

From the 20th Century Fox noir thriller The 13th Letter with Michael Rennie

Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952)

Linda Darnell and Keith Andes

With Keith Andes in the RKO adventure Blackbeard, the Pirate

Island of Desire (1952)

Linda Darnell and Tab Hunter

Darnell is stranded on a desert island with Tab Hunter in the romance Island of Desire

Night Without Sleep (1952)

Gary Merrill and Linda Darnell

With Gary Merrill in the 20th Century Fox noir thriller Night Without Sleep. This was Darnell's last film at Fox

This Is My Love (1954)

Hal Baylor, Dan Duryea, and Linda DarnellFaith Domergue and Linda Darnell

LEFT: With Hal Baylor and Dan Duryea in the RKO drama This Is My Love. RIGHT: With Faith Domergue

Dakota Incident (1956)

Linda Darnell

As Amy Clarke in the Republic western Dakota Incident

Zero Hour! (1957)

Linda Darnell, Geoffrey Toone, and Dana AndrewsLinda Darnell, Peggy King, and Dana Andrews

LEFT: From the Paramount nailbiter Zero Hour! with Geoffrey Toone and Dana Andrews. RIGHT: With Peggy King and Dana Andrews. This film served as the inspiration for the comedy Airplane! (1980)

Black Spurs (1965)

A.C. Lyles and Linda Darnell

With producer A.C. Lyles on the set of the Paramount western Black Spurs, Darnell's last film

later years

Darnell married airline pilot Merle Robertson, her third husband, in March 1957. After production wrapped on the campy Paramount thriller Zero Hour! (1957; with Dana Andrews and Sterling Hayden), Darnell put her film career on hiatus, taking occasional roles on television, developing a nightclub act in which she sang and told jokes, and traveling the country doing live theater. However, her marriage disintegrated in 1962, with Darnell accusing Robertson of adultery with a little-known actress, and Robertson accusing his wife of being an alcoholic. While she was granted alimony through 1967, debts incurred during her marriages ate most of her assets, and financially she had fallen on hard times. She was attempting to revive her career and had gotten a starring role in the western Black Spurs (1965; with Rory Calhoun). Not long after production wrapped on the film, Darnell flew to Chicago to stay with her former secretary, Jeanne Curtis, while appearing in a stage production in the city. Darnell stayed up late one night to watch one of her old films, Star Dust (1940), and after retiring to bed, the house caught on fire. The actress suffered severe burns and passed away one day after being pulled out of the blaze on April 10, 1965, at the age of 41. She was survived by her daughter, Charlotte (aka Lola), her parents, two sisters, and a brother.

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Black Spurs (1965) with Rory Calhoun, Scott Brady, Lon Chaney Jr., Richard Arlen, Bruce Cabot, Terry Moore, James Best, and DeForest Kelley
Zero Hour! (1957) with Dana Andrews, Sterling Hayden, Jerry Paris, and John Ashley
Dakota Incident (1956) with Dale Robertson, John Lund, Ward Bond, Regis Toomey, and Whit Bissell
It Happens in Roma (1955) with Vittorio De Sica and Rossano Brazzi
This Is My Love (1954) with Dan Duryea, Rick Jason, Faith Domergue, Jerry Mathers, and William Hopper
Angels of Darkness (1954) with Valentina Cortese and Anthony Quinn
Second Chance (1953) with Robert Mitchum and Jack Palance
Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952) with Robert Newton, William Bendix, Keith Andes, Irene Ryan, Alan Mowbray, Richard Egan, and Anthony Caruso
Night Without Sleep (1952) with Gary Merrill, Hildegard Knef, Joyce Mackenzie, June Vincent, and Hugh Beaumont
Island of Desire (1952) with Tab Hunter
The Lady Pays Off (1951) with Stephen McNally, Gigi Perreau, Virginia Field, Nestor Paiva, and James Griffith
The Guy Who Came Back (1951) with Paul Douglas, Joan Bennett, Don DeFore, Billy Gray, and Zero Mostel
The 13th Letter (1951) with Charles Boyer and Michael Rennie
Two Flags West (1950) with Joseph Cotten, Jeff Chandler, Cornel Wilde, Dale Robertson, Jay C. Flippen, Noah Beery Jr., and Harry von Zell
No Way Out (1950) with Richard Widmark, Stephen McNally, and Sidney Poitier
Everybody Does It (1949) with Paul Douglas, Celeste Holm, Charles Coburn, John Hoyt, and George Tobias
Slattery's Hurricane (1949) with Richard Widmark, Veronica Lake, John Russell, and Gary Merrill
A Letter to Three Wives (1949) with Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, Kirk Douglas, and Paul Douglas
Unfaithfully Yours (1948) with Rex Harrison, Rudy Vallee, Barbara Lawrence, Lionel Stander, and Edgar Kennedy
The Walls of Jericho (1948) with Cornel Wilde, Anne Baxter, Kirk Douglas, Ann Dvorak, Marjorie Rambeau, and Henry Hull
Forever Amber (1947) with Cornel Wilde, Richard Greene, George Sanders, Glenn Langan, Richard Haydn, Jessica Tandy, Anne Revere, and John Russell
My Darling Clementine (1946) with Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Ward Bond, Alan Mowbray, and John Ireland
Centennial Summer (1946) with Jeanne Crain, Cornel Wilde, Walter Brennan, Constance Bennett, Dorothy Gish, and Barbara Whiting
Anna and the King of Siam (1946) with Irene Dunne, Rex Harrison, Lee J. Cobb, and Gale Sondergaard
Fallen Angel (1945) with Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, Charles Bickford, Anne Revere, Bruce Cabot, John Carradine, and Percy Kilbride
The Great John L. (1945) with Barbara Britton, Greg McClure, Otto Kruger, and Rory Calhoun
Hangover Square (1945) with Laird Cregar, George Sanders, Glenn Langan, and Alan Napier
Sweet and Low-Down (1944) with Benny Goodman, Jack Oakie, and Lynn Bari
Summer Storm (1944) with George Sanders, Edward Everett Horton, Anna Lee, and Hugo Haas
It Happened Tomorrow (1944) with Dick Powell, Jack Oakie, and Edgar Kennedy
Buffalo Bill (1944) with Joel McCrea, Maureen O'Hara, Thomas Mitchell, Edgar Buchanan, and Anthony Quinn
City Without Men (1943) with Edgar Buchanan, Glenda Farrell, Margaret Hamilton, Rosemary DeCamp, and Sheldon Leonard
The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942) with Shepperd Strudwick, Virginia Gilmore, Jane Darwell, Harry Morgan, and Morris Ankrum
Rise and Shine (1941) with Jack Oakie, George Murphy, Walter Brennan, Milton Berle, Sheldon Leonard, and Donald Meek
Blood and Sand (1941) with Tyrone Power, Rita Hayworth, Alla Nazimova, Anthony Quinn, J. Carrol Naish, Lynn Bari, John Carradine, Laird Cregar, and George Reeves
Chad Hanna (1940) with Henry Fonda, Dorothy Lamour, Guy Kibbee, Jane Darwell, and John Carradine
The Mark of Zorro (1940) with Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, and Eugene Pallette
Brigham Young (1940) with Tyrone Power, Dean Jagger, Brian Donlevy, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Mary Astor, Vincent Price, and Jean Rogers
Star Dust (1940) with John Payne, Roland Young, Charlotte Greenwood, Mary Beth Hughes, Mary Healy, Donald Meek, and George Montgomery
Day-Time Wife (1939) with Tyrone Power, Wendy Barrie, and Joan Davis
Hotel for Women (1939) with Ann Sothern, Jean Rogers, Lynn Bari, Joyce Compton, Elsa Maxwell, Ruth Terry, and Chick Chandler

Burke's Law, episode Who Killed His Royal Highness?, originally aired February 21, 1964
77 Sunset Strip, episode Sing Something Simple, originally aired November 6, 1959
Cimarron City, episode Kid on a Calico Horse, originally aired November 22, 1958
Pursuit, episode Free Ride, originally aired October 29, 1958
Studio 57, episode My Little Girl, originally aired January 30, 1958
Wagon Train, episode The Sacramento Story, originally aired June 25, 1958
Wagon Train, episode The Dora Gray Story, originally aired January 29, 1958
Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, episode The Elevator, originally aired January 2, 1958
Climax!, episode Trial by Fire, originally aired September 5, 1957
Playhouse 90, episode Homeward Borne, originally aired May 9, 1957
The Ford Television Theatre, episode Fate Travels East, originally aired March 13, 1957
Schlitz Playhouse, episode Terror in the Streets, originally aired January 18, 1957
Screen Directors Playhouse, episode White Corridors, originally aired July 11, 1956
The Ford Television Theatre, episode All for a Man, originally aired March 8, 1956
The 20th Century-Fox Hour, episode Deception, originally aired March 7, 1956
Celebrity Playhouse, episode My Name Is Sally Roberts, originally aired January 3, 1956

linda darnell film now showing

Watch Linda Darnell in a 1957 episode of Climax! titled Trial by Fire
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