She played Jimmy Cagney’s mother in one of our Fourth of July movie picks.
We’re talking Rosemary De Camp here.
Yup, she specialized in playing mothers — older, still a bit sexy and often possessing a sometimes ruthless intelligence. She’s shown below in one of her more benign parts, as the mother of rebellious tomboy Doris Day in 1951’s On Moonlight Bay. (That’s Leon Ames to the right as Doris’ dad.)
Interestingly, DeCamp was in reality a mere 11 years older than daughter Doris, who falls for unconventional college student Gordon McRae in this Warner Bros. romantic musical. (Astonishingly, she was 11 years younger than “son” James Cagney in 1942’s Yankee Doodle Dandy. Obviously she was destined to play “moms” of an indeterminate age.)
Recall that she performed maternal turns for Marlo Thomas and Dwayne Hickman, in the 1966 tv sitcom That Girl and on 1954’s Love That Bob, respectively.
If you have to confine yourself to one DeCamp big screen outing, make it 1947’s Nora Prentiss, a solid film noir with DeCamp as the evil, emotionally frigid spouse of upright doctor (Kent Smith).
Here’s part of regular reader Dan’s comment:
I love ‘Nora Prentiss.’ Kent Smith was the perfect schlub. All he wanted was a little happiness.
I really want to talk a bit about one of the most horrifying characters in movie history, the doctor’s wife in ‘Nora Prentiss,’ played to utter perfection by Rosemary DeCamp.
The character makes ‘Harriet Craig’ seem like a cuddly pussycat. No wonder the doctor (Smith) wanted out, and to just disappear.
Nicely put. DeCamp’s interpretation of the chilly, upper-middle-class wife who values her possessions more than her kindly, beleaguered spouse makes for chilling viewing. (There she is above lording it over her suffering spouse.)
From 1949 to 1950, DeCamp costarred with William Bendix in the early tv sitcom, The Life of Riley. The role was earlier played by Jackie Gleason.
The original tv’s The Life of Riley debuted in 1949 with Gleason as bumbling Chester Riley and Rosemary as his wife. In 1953, Bendix and Marjorie Reynolds as Peg Riley took over.
DeCamp is perhaps best remembered for playing Robert Cummings’ sister in The Bob Cummings Show on tv.
DeCamp did a ton of television later in her career. Question: which of the following programs did she NOT appear in? a) Rawhide; b) The Partridge Family; c) Death Valley Days or d) The Memoirs of a Fairy Godmother.
Answer: Sorry. Rosemary appear in all of these show — and much more.
Rosemary DeCamp flourished on radio, in movies and on tv. She also lived a long life, expiring in 2001 at the age of 90. A solid, working actress all the way.