Noreen Corcoran

Active - 1952 - 1965  |   Born - Oct 20, 1943   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Musical, Romance, Historical Film

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Noreen Corcoran was born in Quincy, MA, in 1943, but soon after, her family moved to Santa Monica, CA, where her father took a job as maintenance chief at one of the studios. It was a few years later that two of her siblings, Kevin Corcoran and Donna Corcoran, began getting extra work in movies, and not long after that Donna earned a speaking role in Angels in the Outfield (1947). Within a few years, all of the Corcoran children were studying dramatics, dance, and anything else that could further their careers -- Kevin became successful as a Disney alumnus during the 1950s, playing Moochie in the Spin and Marty series, and later worked behind the camera as well. Noreen Corcoran made her screen debut in a small role in the movie Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie at 20th Century Fox, but her real break came when she was pressed into service on the MGM musical I Love Melvin (1953), when her sister Donna was unable to work in two movies at the same time. More movies followed, including Band of Angels (1957), along with appearances on television programs such as Circus Boy (starring Micky Dolenz) and a part in the short-lived series The World of Mr. Sweeney, with Charlie Ruggles. Then, in 1957, with a little help from Ronald Reagan -- who was working at the same studio and happened to see the screen tests for the show, and recommended Corcoran over a rival actress -- she won the starring role in the situation comedy Bachelor Father. For the next five years, Corcoran was practically the archetypal American girl, almost a distaff Beaver Cleaver in the role of Kelly Gregg, the orphaned 13-year-old being raised by her bachelor uncle Bentley Gregg (John Forsythe). In some ways, the program was the precursor to the mid- to late-'60s series Family Affair, deriving much of its humor from the notion of single, man-about-town Bentley and his valet Peter (Sammee Tong) learning to adjust to life with a teenager in their midst. She made the cover of magazines and became a popular young actress of the period, as America watched Corcoran's character grow up from a gregarious, slightly awkward teenager into a poised and sophisticated young woman, with the series ending just as Kelly entered college. Corcoran later played a supporting role in Paul Wendkos' Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) and starred in William Witney's The Girls on the Beach, Paramount's attempt to emulate American International Pictures' "Beach Party" movies, with Corcoran essentially taking the Annette Funicello role. The movie had little to offer beyond some very attractive girls and some great performance clips featuring the Beach Boys and the post-Buddy Holly Crickets, among other acts; the performance scenes, along with the campy dialogue surrounding them, have actually allowed the movie to keep an audience some 40 years hence. Corcoran also played guest-starring roles in such series as Gunsmoke and The Big Valley. She left acting after 1965 to pursue a more private personal life and a career behind the scenes in theater and dance.

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