Evelyn Keyes

Active - 1938 - 1989  |   Born - Nov 20, 1919   |   Died - Jul 4, 2008   |   Genres - Mystery, Drama, Crime, Comedy, Adventure

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Ex-nightclub chorine Evelyn Keyes was 18 when she was put under contract by Hollywood producer/director Cecil B. DeMille. Keyes played passive roles in DeMille's The Buccaneer (1938) and Union Pacific (1939) and a handful of Paramount "B"s. Her best opportunity came from outside the DeMille fold, when she was cast as the eternally jilted Suellen O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939). In 1940, she signed with Columbia, where she was featured in a handful of interesting "B"s like Boris Karlof's Before I Hang (1940) and Peter Lorre's Face Behind the Mask (1941, in which Keyes was terrific in a brief role as a blind girl). She was promoted to "A" leads with Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), and with 1947's Mating of Millie she finally got a film vehicle all her own. She also played the Ruby Keeler counterpart (named Julie Benson) in Columbia's The Jolson Story (1946). Like many 1940s leading ladies, Keyes found the going rough in the 1950s, save for a few worthwhile (if fleeting) parts such as Tom Ewell's vacationing wife in The Seven Year Itch (1955). She retired in 1956, making an unexpected return before the cameras in a brace of late-1980s Gothic melodramas. In sum total, Keyes' screen career was dwarfed by her colorful private life. Her four husbands included directors Charles Vidor and John Huston, and bandleader Artie Shaw. In 1971 she turned to writing. Her first book was a novel, I Am as Billboard; she followed this with two very candid autobiographies, Scarlet O'Hara's Younger Sister (1977) and I'll Think About That Tomorrow (1991). Keyes died in July 2008 of uterine cancer

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography