Perhaps they just don’t make — or won’t allow — actresses like Iris Adrian anymore.
One of the marvels of Hollywood’s classic movie period is its plentiful supply of supporting actors and actresses, who collectively propped up stars on bad movie days and inspired them on the good.
One of these was certainly Adrian. Ok, the name may not immediately ring a bell, but once you heard that voice you were not likely to soon forget it.
She was a wisecracking dame of the movies, who began onscreen in the 1930’s and kept at it for a half century before retiring — shortly before her death at age 82 of injuries suffered during the devastating Northridge, California earthquake of January 1994.
She excelled at playing skeptical secretaries, gangsters’ molls, waitresses, chorines and, on occasion, working girls. She was known by the decidedly un-PC monikers as Pearl, Sugar, Goldie and Bubbles. She drew lots of nicknames.
The petite actress (she stood all of five feet, four inches) had a tart tongue, and a way of spicing up scenes while at the same time stealing them from marquee cast members. She was a standout, naturally enough, in comedies and crime dramas.
Beneath that brassy panache, Adrian expressed a certain intelligence and sardonic humor. Her characters, she once said, were tough broads who were never mean.
She was definitely no slouch offscreen.
She worked enthusiastically (racking up some 158 credits over a half century), and generally improved every picture or tv show she was in. And after three marital misfires, she married well to Ray (‘Fido’) Murphy, an eccentric and outspoken sports figure and former football player.
The two were a match made in central casting. Iris would tell fans that the reason their marriage lasted some three decades (until Murphy died in 1983) was that ‘Fido’ was NOT an actor. If an actor gets a pimple on his butt, she’d say, he thinks he’s ruined for life.
Iris described described actors as basically bums who got lucky in the looks department. Vain. Vain. It would be like dating another dame. She and ‘Fido’ had a comfortable marriage, aided and abetted by the shrewd real estate investments Iris made over the years.
She died 11 years after her husband a well-off woman.