Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Mercedes McCambridge dies at age 85

'Tis a sad thing to hear that one of my favorite actresses has passed on from natural causes on March 2. Mercedes had an astounding and lengthy career in old-time radio, appearing on programs like I Love a Mystery, Abie's Irish Rose, Big Sister, and Lights Out. She relates a funny anecdote in Chuck Schaden's Speaking of Radio about her work with Himan Brown, creator of radio's Inner Sanctum Mysteries

One day I called my exchange for my call on Inner Sanctum and the lady of the exchange said, "You didn't get a call." I was ready to fire the exchange for their inadequacies, but she said, "The calls are out but there's no call for you." So I called Hi Brown and said, "What is this about no call this week?" and he said, "No, I'm sorry, there aren't any women." And I said, "That's no excuse. I've got to pay my rent! Where's the call?" And he said, "Can you play an elevator man?" "Sure, you bet!" And I did and paid my rent.
McCambridge also appeared in many of my favorite movies: All the King's Men (1949) (her film debut, for which she copped a richly deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar), Johnny Guitar (1954) (I would kill to be able to own this on DVD), and Touch of Evil, the 1958 film noir masterpiece directed by Orson Welles. One of her most memorable movie performances is in fact, performed offscreen: that of the voice of the demon in the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist.

RIP, Mercedes. (Thanks to Charlie Summers for the heads-up on this.)

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