Diane Varsi

Active - 1957 - 1977  |   Born - Feb 23, 1938   |   Died - Nov 19, 1992   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Crime

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Diane Varsi started her show-business career by playing the coffee-house circuit as a folksinger. She finally found her true calling when she began taking acting lessons under the aegis of acting coach Jeff Corey. In a twinkling, Varsi was signed to a 20th Century-Fox contract and was cast as Alison McKenzie in the 1957 film version of Grace Metalious' Peyton Place, a performance that earned the 20-year-old novice actress an Oscar nomination. After two years of important roles in major Fox productions, she impulsively ran out on her studio contract, insisting that she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown (which proved to be the case). After several years' retirement in Vermont with her third husband, Varsi decided to give acting a second try. Unfortunately, 20th Century-Fox, still smarting over Varsi's violation of her contract, effectively blocked her chances at renewing her stardom. She was able to pick up roles in low-budget and independent productions, notably as wigged-out Sally LeRoy in the cult favorite Wild in the Streets (1968). After several years of off-and-on screen activity, Varsi retired for good in 1977. Diane Varsi died at the age of 54, of complications ensuing from a respiratory ailment and Lyme Disease.

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