Wednesday, November 20, 2013

façade: Pamela Tiffin

Pamela Tiffin. Even the name has the perfect movie-starlet allure, circa 1960.

Tiffin's star shined briefly in the early 1960s when she made an auspicious Hollywood debut in three major back-to-back films, starting with Peter Glenville's 1961 adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, "Summer and Smoke," starring Geraldine Page and Laurence Harvey. She followed this later the same year with a game, comic turn in Billy Wilder's "One, Two, Three" and in José Ferrer's remake of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "State Fair," in 1962.

And then, it suddenly seemed over. A list of forgettable, youth-oriented films followed and then a turn in Italian films before she retired. She was married briefly to New York editor Clay Felker and, when last reported, was married to Edmondo Danon and lives with Danon and their two daughters in Manhattan.

Tiffin was a wisp of an actress, turning in small, quiet and yet craft-like performance in those first three films. Her rendition of "It Might as Well Be Spring" in "State Fair" (whether dubbed or not) is downright palpable, a beautiful moment in an otherwise forgotten film. I sense that she was an actress who needed the protection and direction of the studio system, which was on its last leg when Tiffin came along.

A few other noteworthy titles dot her filmography - John Sturges' "The Hallelujah Trail" (1965), Jack Smight's "Harper" (1966) and Jerry Paris' delightful "Viva, Max!" (1969) - but her potential was never truly fulfilled.

In 1964, she made "The Pleasure Seekers," Jean Negulesco's remake of his 1954 romance, "Three Coins in the Fountain," with co-stars Ann-Margret and Carol Lynley, who were probably her chief rivals at auditions in those days. In the early '60s, in terms of ingenués, they were the only game in town - the resident blonde, redhead and brunette.

(Artwork: Pamela Tiffin on the cover of a summer 1962 issue of Screen Stories, which profiles her film, "State Fair," inside)

1 comment:

Barry said...

Oh boy, she always did it for me. If you want to know why, put her name in Google Image Search and look for the one with the polka dot bikini (which isn't quite as itsy bitsy teeny weeny as one might hope).

I see she's had 2 daughters since her second marriage in 1974. I wonder how old they are, how much they resemble their mom, if they're married, and where I can find them? :)

6:07 PM