Remick, Lee

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Nationality: American. Born: Boston, Massachusetts, 14 December 1935. Education: Attended Miss Hewitt's Classes (now the Hewitt School), New York, graduated 1953; studied ballet with Mme. Ruth Swoboda and modern dance with Charles Weidman; attended Barnard College, New York, one semester, 1954. Family: Married 1) William A. Colleran, 1957 (divorced 1969), daughter: Katherine, son: Matthew; 2) William Rory Gowans, 1970, stepdaughters: Justine and Nicola. Career: 1952—member of the Music Circus Tent in summer stock in Hyannis, Massachusetts; 1953—Broadway debut in Be Your Age; TV debut on Armstrong Circle Theater; 1957—film debut in A Face in the Crowd; later stage work included roles in Anyone Can Whistle, 1964, and Wait until Dark, 1966, both on Broadway, and Bus Stop in London, 1976; 1970—moved to London, England; 1973–89—in several TV mini-series, including The Blue Knight, 1973; QB VII, 1974; Arthur Hailey's Wheels, 1978; Ike, 1979; Mistral's Daughter, 1984; Nutcracker: Money, Madness, Murder, 1987; Around the World in Eighty Days, 1989; 1974—portrayed title role in critically acclaimed seven-part TV mini-series Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill; 1981—returned to the United States, settling inLos Angeles; 1982—signed for three-month Broadway run of Agnes of God, but was replaced by Elizabeth Ashley in dispute over creative differences; 1988—formed production company with James Garner and Peter Duchow; 1989—diagnosed with kidney and lung cancer. Awards: Best Actress, Golden Globe Award, for Days of Wine and Roses, 1962; Golden Globe Award, for The Blue Knight, 1973; Best Actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and Golden Globe Award, for Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill, 1974; Prix Genie Award (Canada), for Tribute, 1980. Died: Of cancer, 2 July 1991.

Films as Actress:


A Face in the Crowd (Kazan) (as Betty Lou Fleckum)


The Long Hot Summer (Ritt) (as Eula Varner)


These Thousand Hills (Fleischer) (as Callie); Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger) (as Laura Manion)


Wild River (Kazan) (as Carol Baldwin)


Sanctuary (Richardson) (as Temple Drake)


Experiment in Terror (The Grip of Fear) (Edwards) (as Kelly Sherwood); Days of Wine and Roses (Edwards) (as Kirsten Arnesen)


The Running Man (Reed) (as Stella Black); The Wheeler Dealers (Separate Beds) (Hiller) (as Molly Thatcher)


Baby the Rain Must Fall (Mulligan) (as Georgette Thomas);The Hallelujah Trail (John Sturges) (as Cora Templeton Massingale)


No Way to Treat a Lady (Smight) (as Kate Palmer); The Detective (Gordon Douglas) (as Karen Leland);


Hard Contract (Pogostin) (as Sheila)


A Severed Head (Dick Clement) (as Antonia Lynch-Gibson);Loot (Narizzano) (as Fay); Sometimes a Great Notion(Never Give an Inch) (Paul Newman) (as Viv Stamper)


A Delicate Balance (Richardson) (as Julia); Touch Me Not(The Hunted) (Fifthian); And No One Could Save Her(Billington—for TV) (as Fern O'Neil)


Hennessy (Sharp) (as Kate Brook); Hustling (Sargent—for TV) (as Fran Morrison); A Girl Named Sooner (Delbert Mann—for TV) (as Elizabeth McHenry)


The Omen (Richard Donner) (as Katherine Thorn)


Telefon (Siegel) (as Barbara); The Ambassadors (James CellanJones—for TV) (as Maria Gostrey)


The Medusa Touch (Gold) (as Dr. Zonfeld); Breaking Up(Delbert Mann—for TV) (as JoAnn Hammil)


The Europeans (Ivory) (as Eugenia); Torn between Two Lovers (Delbert Mann—for TV) (as Diane Conti)


The Competition (Oliansky) (as Greta Vandemann); Tribute(Bob Clark) (as Maggie Stratton); The Women's Room(Glenn Jordan—for TV) (as Mira Adams); Haywire(Tuchner—for TV) (as Margaret Sullavan)


The Letter (Erman—for TV) (as Leslie Crosbie)


Montgomery Clift (The Rebels: Montgomery Clift) (Masenza—doc) (as interviewee); A Gift of Love: A Christmas Story(Delbert Mann—for TV) (as Janet Broderick)


A Good Sport (Antonio—for TV) (as Michelle Tenney);Rearview Mirror (Antonio—for TV) (as Terry Seton)


Toughlove (Glenn Jordan—for TV) (as Jan Charters)


Of Pure Blood (Sargent—for TV) (as Alicia Browning);Emma's War (Jessop) (as Anne Grange)


The Vision (Norman Stone—for TV); Jesse (Glenn Jordan—for TV) (as Jesse Maloney)


Bridge to Silence (Arthur—for TV) (as Marge); Dark Holiday(Passport to Terror) (Antonio—for TV) (as Gene LePere)


By REMICK: articles—

Interview with Robert Emmett Ginna, in Horizon (New York), September 1960.

Interview with Gordon Gow, in Films and Filming (London), February 1971.

Interview with Brigid Keenan, in Times (London), 7 July 1974.

Interview in Films Illustrated (London), December 1975.

"Lee Remick: The Aura of Movie Star at Its Best," interview with David Galligan, in Drama-Logue, 28 February 1985.

Interview in On Performing, by David Craig, New York, 1987.

On REMICK: book—

Rivadue, Barry, Lee Remick: A Bio-Bibliography, Westport, Connecticut, 1995.

On REMICK: articles—

Levy, Emanuel, "A Girl with a Lilt in Her Eyes," in Life (New York), 6 June 1960.

LaBadie, Donald W., "What Makes Remick Walk?," in Show (Hollywood), February 1963.

Stang, Joanne, "The Lady Known as Lee," in New York Times, 20 June 1965.

Current Biography 1966, New York, 1966.

Marill, Alvin H., in Films in Review (New York), November 1978.

Ecran (Paris), 15 June 1979.

Buckley, Michael, "Lee Remick," in Films in Review (New York), November 1988.

Obituary in Hollywood Reporter, 3 July 1991.

Obituary in New York Times, 3 July 1991.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 10 July 1991.

Stars (Mariembourg), June 1992; September 1992.

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Central to Lee Remick's complex and fascinating screen presence during the first phase of her career is a sense of erotic warmth, an irreducible sensuality, capable (when combined with her remarkable gifts as an actress) of the most diverse inflections, depending on the degree to which it is allowed or denied free expression. Consider two of her finest performances, in the two finest films in which she appeared, made within a year of each other: Anatomy of a Murder and Wild River. The former is built upon the character's sexual knowingness, seductiveness, promiscuity, the latter on the character's sexual deprivation and subsequent reawakening. Preminger uses Remick's sensuality as one aspect of his detailed, multifaceted exercise in sustained ambiguity: she plays a woman ready deliberately to exploit her attractiveness as a means of manipulation, yet the erotic charge she communicates is so strong that its genuineness is never in question. The character's uninhibited sensuality, which might have been presented as merely degenerate (the Hollywood stereotype of the "nymphomaniac"), becomes in Remick's performance engaging, oddly touching. Wild River seems easily Kazan's best film, the only one in which his self-conscious pretensions to social significance are completely assimilated into a fully realized dramatic texture, and Remick's performance as the young, uneducated, widowed mother is crucial to its success. In her earlier scenes, she movingly communicates a potential for life stifled by calamity and deprivation, above all by erotic starvation. She then beautifully realizes the gradual transition to rebirth, a rebirth at once sexual and spiritual, made possible by contact, not with an overt, macho sexuality, but with the sensitivity, diffidence, and gentleness rendered by Montgomery Clift with an inwardness that equals Remick's—creating one of Hollywood's finest love stories.

A similar opposition can be found in her two films for Blake Edwards. Her character in Experiment in Terror is relatively sketchy and conventional, but (as the object of terrorization by a psychopath) it is built upon the necessity for self-control. Days of Wine and Roses plays on the converse of this, and on the corollary of the overt, flamboyant sensuality of Anatomy of a Murder: the character's surrender to alcoholic dissolution as an escape from the tensions and constraints of contemporary urban life.

Beginning particularly around the time of Remick's 1970 move to London following her marriage to the British director William "Kip" Gowans, Remick faced the bane of so many ingenues turned mature women—a dearth of lead roles in major motion pictures. Over the next 21 years until her premature death in 1991 from cancer, the second phase of her career took her down the now-familiar path into television films and mini-series. Two of Remick's best performances during this period were in mini-series that offered her challenging roles: 1974's Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill and 1987's Nutcracker: Money, Madness, Murder. In the former, Remick fulfilled a long-time ambition by playing the title role, the American-born mother of Winston Churchill, and was triumphant in capturing the woman's flamboyancy and in portraying her from age 18 to 67. Remick (and the series) won universal critical praise, but especially in England where she earned an award from the British Academy. The based-on-fact Nutcracker provided Remick with another memorable role—Frances Schreuder, a narcissistic socialite who plots, with her eldest son, the murder of her father fearing he plans to cut her out of his multimillion dollar fortune. Remick perfectly embodies the cold-blooded Schreuder, never once showing her in a sympathetic light.

Remick certainly made the most of the dwindling opportunities presented to her in the 1970s and 1980s, almost always elevating the not-always top-notch material she was presented with, but her real-life portrayal of cancer patient was perhaps the most inspiring role of her career. Following her 1989 diagnosis, she not only faced the dread disease with courage but also spoke publicly and without hesitation about her illness, trying to impart hope to others similarly afflicted and earning a Cancervive Victory award in the process. Her death in July 1991 at age 55 cut short the career of one of classiest and most-respected actresses of her time.

—Robin Wood, updated by David E. Salamie

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Remick, Lee

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