Lizabeth Scott, whose long tawny hair, alluring face and low seductive voice made her an ideal film noir star in the 1940s and '50s, has died in Los Angeles. She was 92.
Scott died Jan. 31 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. Her longtime friend Mary Goodstein told the newspaper the cause was congestive heart failure.
Film noir, with its hard-bitten Cold War cynicism, captured the imaginations of large numbers of movie fans in the United States, as well as in France where the name originated, in the years immediately following World War II.
Like Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake, both of whom she resembled, Scott proved a perfect fit for the genre, easily able to play the case-hardened siren who snared and sometimes betrayed the anti-hero male star.
Described by film historian Leonard Maltin as a smoldering blonde who "slithered onto movie screens," Scott made nearly two dozen films between 1945 and 1957.
She appeared with Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas in "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946), and co-starred with Humphrey Bogart in "Dead Reckoning" (1947), Burt Lancaster in "Desert Fury" (1947), Lancaster and Douglas in "I Walk Alone" (1948), Dick Powell in "Pitfall" (1948) and Charlton Heston in "Dark City" (1950).
She also appeared opposite Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in the 1953 comedy "Scared Stiff" and portrayed the shrewd publicist who turns small-town boy Elvis Presley into a star in one of the rocker's earliest films, 1957's "Loving You."
Scott all but left the business after "Loving You," save for a handful of TV appearances and one more movie, 1972's "Pulp," an offbeat British film in which she starred opposite Mickey Rooney and Michael Caine.
She claimed not to miss the attention.
"I love not having the eyes of the world on me," she said in 1987. "I never understood adulation from strangers when I was making movies. Basically I'm shy and always have been."
The actress had played minor roles in New York plays and toured with a national production of "Hellzapoppin" before moving to Hollywood. Her big break on the stage came when she understudied Tallulah Bankhead in "The Skin of Our Teeth" and took on the role when Bankhead became ill.
She was also modeling, and a cover on Harper's Bazaar prompted Warner Bros. to test her for movies. She was rejected, but Warner producer Hal B. Wallis remembered her when he became an independent at Paramount. He signed her to a contract and cast her as the lead opposite Robert Cummings in her film debut, 1945's romantic "You Came Along."
Scott, whose given name was Emma Matzo, changed it after landing the role in "The Skin of Our Teeth." She said she borrowed her new name from Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, dropping the E from Elizabeth because she thought it "sounded more theatrical."
She was born Sept. 29, 1922, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to English-Russian parents.
The actress, who never married, became a companion to Texas oilman William Dugger Jr. in the 1960s, and when he died in 1969 he left half his fortune to her and the other half to his sister, who went to court and eventually won the full amount.
In her later years, Scott devoted herself to university studies and fundraising for museums and charities.