Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dr. Ruehl remembers Beverly Garland

Actress Beverly Garland died at her home in the Hollywood Hills on Friday. 
Known for her roles in B-movies and on TV (dig that photo! Whoa!) and the hotel that bears her name, she was also an important part of the realm of Tabloid Baby pal, contributor and columnist Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D., who offers this appreciation:

Beverly Garland: The Ultimate Feisty Female!
by Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.
Challenging a Venusian monster with a rifle! Being hopelessly in love with an alligator-human hybrid! Seeking vengeance as a female marshal! Belting out tunes as a heartbroken torch singer!

These are just a few of the memorable roles that Beverly Garland essayed on the silver screen! Possessed of an innate feistiness, she invariably left an indelible impression on the viewer in whatever role she was cast.

Her initial film, under the name Beverly Campbell (surname from her 1st husband... she was born Beverly Fessenden) was the 1950 film noir classic,
D.O.A., in which Edmond O'Brien was dying from a slow-acting poison and endeavoring to find his murderer. While only in a secondary role, she made an impression on the viewers as a forceful actress.

She became Beverly Garland after marring actor Richard Garland, and among others, starred in five films for legendary B-producer and director Roger Corman. One was 1956's
It Conquered The World, in which, armed only with a rifle, she defiantly confronted an alien being from Venus sequestered in a cave and was promptly killed. Another was 1957's Not of this Earth, in which she battled an extraterrestrial vampire (Paul Birch). And in a change of pace, in 1956's Gunslinger, she portrayed the wife of a slain marshal (William Schallert) who assumes his role... her grittiness made what could easily have been a hokey film very believable.

What I regard as Beverly's finest hour was her leading role in 1959's
The Alligator People, in which the man she had married (Richard Crane, erstwhile star of TV's Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, in what also was his apex performance) begins to morph into an alligator-human combo as the result of a novel treatment for severe wounds he suffered in an airplane crash as a military officer. She was predominant throughout the movie, exhibiting a broad spectrum of emotions, and lending a high degree of credibility to an imaginative storyline.

On TV, in an intriguing episode of
The Twilight Zone, she was memorable as a torch singer, profoundly saddened by the death of her beau (Ross Martin), who then reappears through the shape-shifting ability of a scheming con artist (Harry Townes).

On television, she also starred in two entirely different series. In the drama
Decoy (1957-59), she was a sultry undercover police officer who landed the role by having some exotic photos taken of her to submit to the producers. In the other, the comedy My Three Sons (1969-72), she essayed the role of Fred MacMurray's second wife during the program's final 3 seasons.

Beverly appeared in a plethora of other movies and TV series, last working on
Seventh Heaven as recently as 2004.

On an interesting note, she is, as far as I know, the only actress to have a hotel named after her, specifically, Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn in North Hollywood, CA. As owner, she took a hands-on approach, reportedly even personally checking rooms to make sure they were up to par.

Sadly, Beverly just died at age 82 from a lingering illness.

But with her wide body of work, she will not be forgotten, certainly not by me and her wide gallery of devoted fans.

May the Power of the Cosmos be with you Beverly, wherever you now be!

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