Audrey Totter

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Audrey Totter
Audrey totter.jpg
Birth name  
Born Dec 20, 1918
Joliet, Illinois

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Mini Biography from

written by Gary Brumburgh
Audrey Totter at the Internet Movie Database

One is certainly hard-pressed to think of another true "bad girl" representative so closely identifiable with film noir than hard-looking blonde actress Audrey Totter. Born to an Austrian father and Swedish mother on December 20, 1918, in Joliet, Illinois, she treaded lightly on stage ("The Copperhead," "My Sister Eileen") and initially earned notice on the Chicago and New York radio airwaves in the late 1930s before "going Hollywood." MGM developed an interest in her and put her on its payroll in 1944. Still appearing on radio (including the sitcom "Meet Millie" ), she made her film bow as, of course, a "bad girl" in Main Street After Dark (1945). That same year the studio usurped her vocal talents to torment poor Phyllis Thaxter in Bewitched (1945). Her voice was prominent again as an unseen phone operator in Ziegfeld Follies (1946). Audrey played one of her rare pure heart roles in The Cockeyed Miracle (1946). At this point she began to establish herself in the exciting "film noir" market.

Among the certified classics she participated in were The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) in which she had a small role as John Garfield blonde floozie pick-up. Things brightened considerably with Lady in the Lake (1947) with Robert Montgomery playing detective Philip Marlowe but the film was not well received--now better remembered for its interesting subjective camera technique. Her first hit as a femme fatale co-star came on loanout to Warner Bros. In The Unsuspected (1947), Audrey cemented her dubious reputation in "B" noir as a trampy, gold-digging niece married to alcoholic Hurd Hatfield. From here Audrey was on a roll. High Wall (1947) as a psychiatrist to patient Robert Taylor, The Saxon Charm (1948) with Montgomery (again) and Susan Hayward, Alias Nick Beal (1949) as a loosely-moraled "Girl Friday" to Ray Milland, the boxing film The Set-Up (1949) as the beleaguered wife of washed-up boxer Robert Ryan, Any Number Can Play (1949) with Clark Gable and a two-timing spouse in Tension (1949) with Richard Basehart.

Although the studio groomed Audrey to become a top star, it was not to be--perhaps because she was so good at being bad. The 1950s softened considerably and MGM began focusing on family-styled comedy and drama. Audrey's tough-talking dames were no longer a commodity and MGM soon dropped her in 1951. She signed for a time with Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox for a time but her era had come and come and film offers evaporated. At around this time she also married Leo Fred, a doctor, and instead focused on marriage and family.

TV gave her career a slight boost in the 1960s and 1970s, including regular roles in "Cimarron City" (1958) and "Our Man Higgins" (1962) as a suburban mom opposite Stanley Holloway British butler, but nothing propelled her to TV stardom. After a period of semi-retirement, she came back to TV to replace Jayne Meadows in the popular television series "Medical Center" (1969) starring Chad Everett and James Daly. She played Nurse Wilcox, a recurring role, for four seasons (1972-1976). By age 70, Totter retired after a 1987 guest role on "Murder, She Wrote." Her husband died in 1996.

Leo Fred (1953 - 1995) (his death) 1 child
  • In the late 1940s, made a television commercial for Lustre Creme's shampoo campaign.
  • Her father emigrated from Vienna, Austria. Her mother was of Swedish heritage.
  • Was supposed to play the female lead in the film noir classic The Killers (1946) with Burt Lancaster but filming Lady in the Lake (1947) became too long and involved so she couldn't do the part. Instead MGM took a chance on Ava Gardner in the role and, of course, she became a star.
  • Dated Clark Gable, John Payne and Ross Hunter during her heyday. She ended up marrying a non-professional, Leo Fred, Assistant Dean of Medicine at UCLA.
Where Are They Now
(June 2004) Living at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, Woodland Hills, Califonia.

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