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Patricia Morison Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (8) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (3)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameEileen Patricia Augusta Fraser Morison
Nickname The Fire and Ice Girl

Mini Bio (1)

Woefully misused while in her prime screen years at Paramount during the late '30s and '40s, Patricia Morison, lovely and exotic with Rapunzel-like long, dark hair, nevertheless became a star in her own right -- as a supremely talented diva on the singing stage. Born on March 19, 1915, in New York City, her father, William Morison, was a playwright and occasional actor who billed himself under the name Norman Rainey. Patricia's mother worked for British Intelligence during WWI. Graduating from Washington Irving High School in New York, Patricia studied at the Art Students League and proceeded to take acting classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse while also studying dance with the renowned Martha Graham. She earned a steady check at the time as a dress shop designer.

At age 19 Patricia made her Broadway debut in the short-lived play "Growing Pains" and proceeded to understudy the legendary Helen Hayes in her classic role of "Victoria Regina". She never went on. In 1938, shortly after opening in the musical "The Two Bouquets" opposite musical star Alfred Drake, Paramount talent scouts, looking for exotic, dark-haired glamor types then to rein in their star commodity, Dorothy Lamour, scoped Patricia out and tested her. The blue-eyed beauty who indeed resembled Lamour was signed and made her film debut the following year, showing bright promise in the "B" film Persons in Hiding (1939).

Patricia's stock did not improve, however, despite such promise, and she was relegated to such second-string westerns as I'm from Missouri (1939), Rangers of Fortune (1940), Romance of the Rio Grande (1941) and The Roundup (1941). When things didn't improve with such stilted fare as Night in New Orleans (1942), Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942) and Are Husbands Necessary? (1942), she left Paramount. She freelanced in 'other woman' roles which included the Tracy/Hepburn vehicle Without Love (1945) and The Fallen Sparrow (1943), and played Empress Eugenie in The Song of Bernadette (1943), but the focus was seldom on her. Overlooked when cast in top leads at 'poverty row' programmers, her best chance at film stardom came as Victor Mature's despairing wife who takes her own life (which is shown on screen) in Kiss of Death (1947), but her juicy role was excised from the film by producers who felt audiences weren't ready for such shocking displays.

During the war years, Patricia had trained her voice and performed in USO tours. Cole Porter heard her sing in Hollywood one evening and decided she had the right tenacity, feistiness and vocal expertise to play the female lead in his new show. In 1948, over the objections of both the producer and director, stardom was clenched in the form of Porter's classic musical-within-a-musical "Kiss Me Kate." As the sweeping, vixenish Lilli Vanessi, a severe-looking stage diva whose own volatile personality coincided with that of her onstage role (Kate from "The Taming of the Shrew"), Patricia found THE role of her career, giving over 1,000 performances in all. Playing again alongside her former Broadway co-star Alfred Drake, Patricia basked in the multitude of glowing reviews, and such songs as "I Hate Men," "Wonderbar" and "So In Love" rightfully became signature songs. Following this triumph, film work never became a top priority again.

Patricia continued on successfully in the London version of "Kate" and went on to conquer other classic leads in the musicals "The King and I," "Kismet," "The Merry Widow," "Song of Norway" and Pal Joey," among others. Her last movie role was a cameo part as writer George Sand in the mildly received biopic Song Without End (1960) starring Dirk Bogarde as composer Franz Liszt.

On TV Patricia recreated her Kate role with Mr. Drake and made a few scattered but lively appearances over the years. One of her more recent guest parts was on the now-defunct comedy "Cheers." In later years the never-married actress devoted herself to painting (an early passion) and enjoyed many showings in the Los Angeles area.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Trade Mark (1)

Her long hair

Trivia (8)

Was the actress with the longest hair in Hollywood (39 inches long). Universal pushed her as a 'rival' to Dorothy Lamour when she changed her hairstyle to a middle parting
Served as Helen Hayes' understudy in the 1936 Broadway production of "Victoria Regina". She was never put on during the run, even when Hayes actually became ill. The theatre would simply close the show until the legendary star recovered.
Had a very promising role in the classic Victor Mature/Richard Widmark crime thriller Kiss of Death (1947) as Mature's Italian wife who is raped and later commits suicide by putting her head in the kitchen gas oven. The censors cut her part out completely because they refused to allow a rape or suicide to be shown. Patricia's name still appears on the credits of the film.
When "Song without End" George Cukor thought Morison's voice as George Sand was too feminine, he had it redubbed with another actress.
Paramount promoted her with the line "Lamour plus Lamarr equals LaMorison.".
She has the distinction of being the last villain encountered by Sherlock Holmes in the classic Universal series.
Has a full mezzo-soprano vocal range.
Major supporter of gay rights.

Personal Quotes (2)

I used to think every night before I went on stage, a lot of people think of the audience as one mass, but it's not -- it's all individual people. And that's why I love the theatere... And I always feel that if in some way you can touch somebody, either touch them emotionally, or if it's a young person who wants to be an actor, touch them so he or she, too, wants to be an actor...it's so worthwhile. I've enjoyed everything I've done in life.
I was fitted for costumes in The Glass Key with Alan Ladd when I was told by the studio boss, Buddy De Sylva, that Veronica Lake would do the part. He said I could stick around and play heavies. I said no! I over-ate my way out of the Paramount contract.

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