She has been maligned through the years because she played strong women in the movies. But oh, that voice!
Mercedes McCambridge was raised a Roman Catholic in Joliet, Illinois, and made the most of a naturally raspy voice highlighted by frequent bouts of bronchitis and professionally refined on radio, earning Orson Welles’ designation as “the greatest radio actress ever.”
She won a best supporting actress Oscar for her 1949 movie debut, and successfully worked in a wide range of tv programs from the 1950’s through the late 1980’s. (She died in 2004, at age 87.)
Among her movie credits is a costarring stint in 1954’s Johnny Guitar, which left her with an abiding distaste for Joan Crawford. (Does the line form to the right?)
She said she regretted playing “the worst harridans” onscreen so often, and unforgettably played one — as a nasty gang leader outfitted in a menacing leather jacket directing the motel assault of Janet Leigh in Welles’ unforgettable noir classic, 1958’s Touch of Evil — without an onscreen credit.
But Hollywood history may record that her most successful screen work was on behalf of a now classic horror film in which she is never seen.
Ok, let see how much you may know about Mercedes McCambridge. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: McCambridge was nominated for a best actress Oscar, and won as best supporting actress for which of the following movies? a)1956’s Giant; b) 1949’s All The King’s Men; c) 1959’s Suddenly, Last Summer; or d) 1957’s A Farewell to Arms.
2) Question: McCambridge had many lovers during her Hollywood career, and never married. a) True; or False?
3) Question: McCambridge developed her distinctive voice by cultivating destructive personal vices such as heavy drinking and smoking. a) True; or b) False?
4) Question: McCambridge and Joan Crawford shared “creative differences” during the filming of Johnny Guitar, but it never really got personal. a) True; or b) False?
5) Question: McCambridge famously provided the satanic voice of the possessed 12-year-old girl (played by Linda Blair) in director William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist. Yet McCambridge did not get a screen credit. Why? a) She fought fiercely with Friedkin, who exacted his revenge; b) She volunteered NOT to take a screen credit; c) She failed to work out financial terms of her involvement in the picture; or d) none of the above.