Laraine Day

Originally printed on November 10, 2007 in the Family Announcements.
Viewed by 358 Visitors.

Laraine Day, who died on 10 November, 2007, aged 87, was a pretty and demure actress most famous for her role in the Dr Kildare films. She also starred in the Hitchcock thriller Foreign Correspondent (1940) and was a fine leading lady, though often overlooked by her studio in favour of her more vivacious rivals. She was born LaRaine Johnson on 13 October, 1920, and had a twin brother, Lamar. They were part of a prominent Mormon family in Roosevelt, Utah, and were descended from a pioneer. After the family moved to California in 1931 she began her acting career with the Long Beach Players in her teens and later adopted the stage name Day after her mentor Elias Day. She was spotted by a talent scout and given her debut role at 17 with a bit-part in Stella Dallas (1937). Apparently her four lines were enough for Goldwyn to drop her from their books, but she was picked up by RKO and handed the lead female roles in a string of westerns. She earned a contract with MGM and made her debut as Nurse Mary Lamont in the 1939 hospital/crime drama Calling Dr Kildare (1939). James Kildare, played by Lew Ayres, was a young doctor studying as an intern under Dr. Gillespie, played by veteran actor and Oscar-winner Lionel Barrymore. Mary Lamont was his love interest for seven films made in a frantic three-year period. When she was killed by a tragic road accident in her final film, Dr Kildare's Wedding Day (1941), the character’s popularity had grown so high that there was huge uproar by movie-goers. Ms Day always felt her studio never truly supported her. "MGM never really gave me a break," she said. "They loaned me out for leading roles, but cast me in programme pictures." Indeed, her roles for other studios were often far more stimulating than those MGM gave her. They included a prominent supporting part in the Irish melodrama My Son, My Son! and, of course, Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar-nominated international espionage adventure Foreign Correspondent – her on-screen chemistry with Joel McCrea was of particular note. She played opposite a number of Hollywood’s top leading men, including Cary Grant (whom she befriended during the filming of Mr Lucky in 1943), Gary Cooper (she described his kiss in The Story of Dr Wassell [1944] as being like "holding a hand grenade") and Robert Mitchum (an old cohort at the Long Beach Players). Her role with Mitchum in The Locket (1946) was Ms Day’s favourite, not least because the chance to play a psychologically disturbed woman whose secret threatens to wreck the lives of four men gave her a long-awaited chance to challenge herself and prove some of her doubters wrong. By now she was free of her shackling MGM contract and more fulfilling film roles may have awaited, by after her second marriage, to the baseball player Leo Durocher, she declared that "baseball comes first" and only made a handful of further films. She became known as the "First Lady" of the sport during her husband’s management of the New York Giants and even hosted a radio sports talk show. She went onto host her own television chat show and be a regular performer in TV plays in the 1950s. In her later career she would have roles in such quintessential American series as Wagon Train, Fantasy Island and Murder, She Wrote, the latter of which, in 1986, was her final performance. She was married a total of three times, to singer Ray Hendricks (1942-1947), Durocher (1947-1960) and TV producer Michael Grilikhes (1961 until his death in 2007). She had two daughters with Grilikhes and had also adopted a son and a daughter while married to Durocher. Her contribution to the motion picture industry is recognised with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She died at her daughter Gigi’s house in the town of Ivins, Utah.



Tributes (1)

Leave your Tribute

Lovely Laraine

tommy kelly

06 July 2011

Pretty Laraine Day. I loved you in Mr. Lucky and The Locket. You had a pretty name too - Laraine!


×
Site By JMediaUk and DevTeamSolutions Limited

Contact Us

Please get in touch

×