Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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I was watching Turner Classic Movies last night, and caught the film Four Daughters. Daughters starred Claude (Invisible Man) Rains, one of my favorite classic horror movie actors, as the musician father of, that's right, four daughters- three of them played by the Lane, nee' Mullican, sisters. As films go, it was OK...a pretty standard Thirties Hollywood soaper, which, as I understand it, made a star out of John Garfield- but the reason I watched was not Rains (who gets to play a flute solo(!)), but the presence of the radiant youngest of the Mullican sisters, Priscilla Lane.

Some actors and actresses just grab my attention and won't let go. Lane was one of them. I first saw her in the 1944 version of the stage play Arsenic and Old Lace, a very funny and enjoyable film with Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, and Peter Lorre. But I was smitten with Priscilla, who played Grant's befuddled fiance. She was beautiful, but there was also a goofy quality about her that was very endearing and attractive. I spent the next few years keeping an eye out for her films, of which there weren't all that many...probably the most notable ones were Hitchcock's 1942 film Saboteur and the James Cagney gangster flick The Roaring Twenties. She just seemed like someone who you could have a good time with, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Unfortunately, by 1948, she was out of the movie business all together, quitting to be with her Air Force husband. She died in 1995 of lung cancer. I'm sure I noted her passing, but I don't remember hearing about it.

For a great picture gallery, go here. If you're morbidly curious, here's her gravesite.

I'll hoist a cold one in your honor, Mrs. Priscilla Lane Mullican Howard...you may not have been as well-known or revered as some of your contemporaries, but I'll always have a place for ya in the Cinema Bacardi.