Irene Manning

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Date of Birth
17 July 1912, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Date of Death
28 May 2004, San Carlos, California, USA (congestive heart failure)
Birth Name
Inez Harvout

The youngest of five children born to a real estate broker, glamorous actress/singer Irene Manning began this world in Cincinatti, Ohio, as Inez Harvuot in 1912. Classically trained at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, she showed great potential for the grand opera scene but an even stronger flair for acting that led her to combine both of her talents and attempt musical theater and film.

Appearing on stage billed as Hope Manning in such late 30s productions as "The Great Waltz," "H.M.S. Pinafore," and "The Gypsy Baron," sagebrush icon Gene Autry offered her a kiss in her very first screen role a year later in The Old Corral (1936/I) over at Republic Studios. Warner Bros. saw potential in the petite blonde beauty and decided to pick up her option. Amid such standard WWII fare as Spy Ship (1942), she more than made the grade as the colorful soprano opposite Dennis Morgan in Sigmund Romberg's The Desert Song (1943) (which she had done on stage a few years earlier), and is probably best remembered today in the secondary role of diva Fay Templeton in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) opposite the Oscar-winning James Cagney. The early 1940s were fruitful years for Irene appearing romantically opposite Humphrey Bogart in the drama The Big Shot (1942) and Dennis Morgan (again) in Shine on Harvest Moon (1944), in addition to offering added glamour in The Doughgirls (1944) with Ann Sheridan and Alexis Smith and Escape in the Desert (1945) featuring Philip Dorn.

The musical stage took priority in the second half of the decade. Making her Broadway debut with the short-lived musical "Susannah, Don't You Cry" in 1939, she also appeared in the operetta "The Chocolate Soldier" and again on Broadway in Lerner and Loewe's "The Day Before Spring." Irene graced the stage in "DuBarry" and "Serenade" while in London and settled in England for a long spell. She also filmed two movies while there, I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945) [A Yank in London] and Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948), retiring completely from the screen by decade's end. She appeared on her own BBC TV show "An American in England," before returning to the States in 1951 for TV and nightclub work. She subsequently retired altogether and concentrated on teaching acting and voice. She was also an excellent abstract painter.

It was her longtime agent who persuaded Irene to come out of retirement and reappear on the musical stage. Such showcases included "Pal Joey," "Mame," and "The King and I," to mention a few. Ms. Manning died in 2004 of congestive heart failure and was survived by her five stepchildren from her fourth (and final) marriage to space engineer and Lockheed executive Maxwell Hunter II, who died in 2001.


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