Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Tribute to Beverly Garland

Beverly Garland

(October 17, 1926 – December 5, 2008)

Beverly Garland was an American film and television actress, businesswoman, and hotel owner. Born Beverly Lucy Fessenden in Santa Cruz, California, the daughter of Amelia Rose, a businesswoman, and James Atkins Fessenden, a singer and salesman, Beverly Garland grew up in Glendale, California.

Beverly Garland in Not of This Earth 1957

Acting Career

Beverly Garland studied dramatics under Anita Arliss, the sister of renowned stage and screen star George Arliss. She went on to do radio work and appeared scantily clad in risqué shorts with titles such as “Fanny With the Cheeks of Tan!” Her work in films consisted primarily of roles in low-budget action and science fiction movies.

In the 1950s, Beverly Garland often played the role of a no-nonsense, secure and tough woman who could handle herself whenever the situation demanded it of her, whether it be as a female marshal, a prison escapee or confronting and doing battle with an alien invader.

Some of the non-science fiction movies she appeared in include;

  • D.O.A. a classic film noir (1950) 
  • The Joker Is Wild (1957) 
  • Pretty Poison (1968) 
  • Where the Red Fern Grows (1974) 
  • Airport 1975 (1974) 

Beverly Garland also appeared in well-known television series and sit-coms such as My Three Sons. Scarecrow and Mrs. King and 7th Heaven. Some of her other appearances include;

  • City Detective (1955), "Man Down, Woman Screaming” 
  • Frontier (1955), "Cattle Drive to Casper" 
  • Decoy (1957-58), playing television's first policewoman as an undercover police officer "Casey Jones.” Garland was also the first actress to star in a television dramatic series 
  • State Trooper (1956), "Rodeo Rough House" playing a rodeo sharpshooter 
  • Wanted: Dead or Alive (1960), "Prison Trail" 
  • Riverboat (1960), "Three Graves" 
  • Laramie (1960), “Saddles and Spurs” 
  • The Dakotas (1963), "The Chooser of the Slain" 
  • The Eleventh Hour (1963), "What Did She Mean by Good Luck?" 
  • The Fugitive (1964-65), "Smoke Screen" 

Beverly Garland also had appearances on shows such as The Bing Crosby Show. Remington Steele, Twilight Zone, Kung Fu, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. 

Personal life & Later Years

Ms Garland had been previously married to Richard Garland whom she divorced in 1953. Her second husband of 39 years, businessman Filmore Crank died in 1999, They had a son and a daughter of their own, in addition to Mr Crank’s son and daughter from a previous marriage.

In addition to her acting career, Beverly Garland devoted a lot of time to the 255-room Spanish-Mission style resort called the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn that her husband Filmore Crank built and named for her.

Beverly Garland died at age 82 in her home in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California on December 5, 2008. She died from undisclosed causes after a lengthy illness. She was survived by a son, a daughter, and two grandchildren. 

Awards & Recognition

For her contribution to the television industry, Beverly Garland has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard which she received in 1983. In 2001, in recognition of her 50 years in show business, the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters inducted her into its Hall of Fame. 

Legacy: science fiction & horror genre films

Beverly Garland is probably best remembered as being associated with Roger Corman’s 1950s cult films. Despite how such films might be viewed now, back then she would have taken her roles in them quite seriously and would have given her all as an actress.

Science fiction / Horror films and TV series Beverley Garland appeared in include;

The Neanderthal Man, (1953)
It Conquered the World as Claire Anderson, (1956)
Swamp Women, (1956)
Curucu, Beast of the Amazon, (1956)
Not of This Earth as Nurse Nadine Storey, (1959)
Science Fiction Theatre episode, "Negative Man," (1959)
The Alligator People as Joyce Webster (Jane Marvin). 1(959)
The Twilight Zone (1960) episode, "The Four of Us Are Dying"

According to Beverly Garland, she could “scream with more variations from shrill to vibrato than any other girl in pictures.” However, her characters didn't just scream, faint, run away or cower behind a brave male lead actor. Unlike many other female actors and the kinds of roles they were required to take on at the time, the characters she plortrayed could hold their own in a male dominated world and take the lead when action needed to be taken.

It Conquered the World (1956)

(Watch the first 3 minutes of the clip when Garland as Claire Anderson confronts the alien in its lair: “I’ll see you in hell first!”)

“We really meant it. We gave our all. We were serious, good actors and we played it seriously”

©Chris Christopoulos 2016