Annette Bening plays Gloria Grahame in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. Grahame made headlines in the 50s for getting involved with the 13-year-old son (whom she later married) of her then-husband Nicolas Ray.
Grahame, had an exceptional career in the late 40s and the 50s, winning a Best supporting actress Oscar for 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful. She worked with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Dorothy Lamour and Robert Mitchum and major directors like Fritz Lang, Elia Kazan, Vincent Minnelli and husband, Nicholas Ray. Grahame’s was THE film noir femme fatale, but she made some fatal career moves.
In June of ’51, Ray caught her in bed at their Malibu home with his 13-year-old son, Tony from his first marriage. He’d just returned from military school. Biopic director Paul McGuigan says,
“It was the kind of thing Gloria Grahame the actress would have done in her movies.”
The gossip whirlwind generated would be blown away when nine years later Grahame married Tony and had two children with him. The best 14 years of any of her four marriages. The marriage made Tony the stepfather to his half brother Timothy, the child Ray had fathered with Grahame.
In the extraordinary story, Bening meets and falls in love with a much younger actor (Jamie Bell) while performing in theatre in Liverpool. It is there that she is told that her breast cancer, which she successfully fought several years earlier, has returned.
Grahame was 57 when she died in New York in 1981 from cancer and peritonitis, just hours after returning from London. Bening says,
“Gloria is different from other stars of that era; she doesn’t live on in people’s minds. There are so many forgotten stories. Gloria represents that for me.”
(Photos, Wikimedia, screengrabs; via THR)