Although she is primarily known as a Broadway star — think of the original 1948 production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate –– Patricia Morison was a film headliner in the 30s and 40s. In fact Paramount had signed her as a possible replacement for Dorothy Lamour.
She is still with us today, at 98, and she can look back on a great career — spanning nearly 55 years (she made her Broadway debut at age 19) — in films, on Broadway, on radio and television.
Although she was never exactly a leading lady in the movies she made, she appears in three of Joe’s favorite mysteries: the Sherlock Holmes thriller with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, Terror, by Night; the last of the Thin Man films, Song of the Thin Man; and a Deanna Durbin feature, Lady on a Train. All worth seeing.
She was noted in her seven-year ride at Paramount for her long tresses. Her hair was verry long, dropping to a length of some 40 inches. The studio promotion slogan went: Lamour plus Lamarr equals La Morison.
Well, not quite. But Patricia was one of classic Hollywood’s most elegant-looking actresses.
The role we will never see her in was a down and dirty appearance in the 1947 thriller Kiss of Death at Twentieth Century Fox. She portrayed the Italian wife of Victor Mature as an ex-con man struggling to go straight and raise two motherless girls. (We’ll have much more on Mature and this excellent film noir in this Friday’s blog.)
Morison’s role did not make the Kiss of Death final cut because her character commits suicide by gassing herself in a kitchen oven. Showing this was a Hays office no-no at the time, thus Morison’s performance was dropped.
Although she starred on Broadway in may parts she will forever be known as the original Kate, in Kiss Me Kate. (There she is below being spanked by costar Alfred Drake.)