Saturday, December 06, 2008

RIP Beverly Garland

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this still of Garland from The Alligator People (1959) would seem to say it all. But Garland, a familiar (and attractive) face from Famous Monsters of Filmland, was rarely so accommodating to her beastly co-stars. Introduced to the squat Venusian menace in Roger Corman's It Conquered the World (1956), Garland reportedly said, "You're going to conquer the world? Take that!" and gave it a good solid kick. I don't recall her being funny in those pictures (which also included Not of This Earth and Swamp Women) but she exhibited that no-nonsense, can-do attitude decades before Sigourney Weaver in Alien.

Decades before Angie Dickinson joined the force in TV's Police Woman, she played a lady law enforcer in Decoy. It's too bad most people remember her more demure characterization on My Three Sons, and a procession of TV moms afterwards, but it took a while for people to realize how her 50s roles helped open the doors to more progressive female characters. (She was also good in The Joker is Wild, with Frank Sinatra, and as Tuesday Weld's disapproving mother--and target--in Pretty Poison.) How sad she and Ackerman should pass away in the same span, but, also, how fitting--a matched set, in their own way.

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