Remembering Lee Remick (1935 – 1991)

Posted in Remember by - January 14, 2014
Remembering Lee Remick (1935 – 1991)

Beautiful and extremely talented, Lee Remick took a career path that mixed big budget Hollywood fare, with smaller biographical television dramas, and noted Broadway productions.

Born on December 14th 1935, Lee took to the stage while still in her teens, and soon caught the eye of some of the most notable directors of the day. One such director was Elia Kazan, who gave Remick a small part as a majorette in the cult showbiz saga ‘A Face in the Crowd’ (1957). She then had a prominent part as a rape victim in Otto Preminger’s 1959 courtroom drama ‘Anatomy of a Murder’. Kazan cast Lee again for ‘Wild River’, as a widow falling for Montgomery Clift’s young optimist. Although the movie was a rare failure for Kazan, it would remain Lee’s personal favourite.

Remick made two films in 1962 for Blake Edwards, the suspense thriller ‘Experiment in Terror’ with Glenn Ford, and the alcoholic drama ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ with Jack Lemmon, which saw Lee Oscar-nominated for the first and only time.

1965 saw Lee as a doting wife to Steve McQueen’s convict on parole, in ‘Baby the Rain Must Fall’, and then very enjoyable as a temperance leader in John Sturge’s comedy western ‘The Hallelujah Trail’, taming Burt Lancaster’s stuffy colonel. After spending a year on Broadway in ‘Wait Until Dark’, Remick was given a good part in Jack Smight’s cult favourite; ‘No Way To Treat A Lady’ (1968), as the swinging girlfriend of George Segal’s straight-laced cop, who is on the trail of a serial killer, played brilliantly by Rod Steiger.

Divorced from her first husband in 1968, Lee met and married British producer Kip Gowans in 1970. She moved to England at this time and starred in a couple of cult pictures. The first was ‘Loot’, based on Joe Orton’s hit play, starring opposite Richard Attenborough, and then the very good black comedy ‘A Severed Head’, again with Attenborough, along with Ian Holm and Claire Bloom.

For British television, Lee starred in the widely acclaimed 1974 mini-series ‘Jennie’, as Winston Churchill’s American born mother. A terrific performance which won her both an Emmy and Golden Globe. After re-teaming with Rod Steiger for the seldom seen 1975 IRA drama ‘Hennessy’, Remick had her biggest hit with the worldwide smash ‘The Omen’, playing demonic Damien’s adoptive mother. A couple of thrillers followed; 1977’s spy flick ‘Telefon’, with Charles Bronson, and ‘The Medusa Touch’ (1978), as Richard Burton’s psychiatrist.

Remick had a very good costume role in Merchant-Ivory’s sumptuous drama ‘The Europeans’ (1979), as an American-born baroness. Around this time Lee moved back to California with her husband, as decent parts were becoming scarce. In 1980 Lee portrayed troubled Forties actress Margaret Sullivan, in the TV movie ‘Haywire’ with Jason Robards. She was Jack Lemmon’s wife again in Bob Clark’s sentimental comedy ‘Tribute’, which featured an excellent performance from Lemmon.

A handful of TV movies followed, including a poor 1982 remake of the classic Bette Davis potboiler ‘The Letter’. In 1986 Lee co-starred in the Australian wartime drama ‘Emma’s War’, and then played a nurse in the decent 1988 true movie ‘Jesse’. Lee’s final role of note was in the 1989 true life drama ‘A Bridge to Silence’, as Marlee Matlin’s domineering mother.

Married twice, with 2 children, Lee Remick sadly died of kidney cancer on July 2, 1991, at her home in Los Angeles, she was only 55.

A hardworking, accomplished actress, Lee Remick was far more than a screen beauty. She was passionate about her craft and, on stage, screen and television, it more than showed.

Favourite Movie: No Way To Treat A Lady
Favourite Performance: Wild River

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