Home Sixties Posts RIP Carol Lynley

RIP Carol Lynley

by Tom Lisanti

Sadly my favorite actress of all-time Carol Lynley suddenly passed away last week. She died peacefully in her sleep reportedly related to a heart attack. What shook me about her death was that I spoke with her in March and April as she finally agreed to an interview for my upcoming tribute BearMano Media book Carol Lynley, Lady in Peril: Her Film & TV Career in Thrillers, Fantasy and Suspense.

I became a fan of Carol’s when in 1973 my parents for my birthday took me to see The Poseidon Adventure at the Westbury Drive-in. I was mesmerized. The movie changed my life. I loved all the characters but the pretty hippy blonde hot pants go-go boot wearing pop singer stood out. While most of the other actors went over the top at times, she projected sheer terror throughout. I asked my mom afterwards who she was and she said, “Carol Lynley. She was in that vampire movie [The Night Stalker] I told you not to watch.” Oh yeah I thought.

I have followed her career ever since and was impressed with her range of movies. The ABC 4:30 Movie introduced me to teen queen Carol (Holiday for Lovers; Return to Peyton Place); sex kitten Carol (Under the Yum Yum Tree; The Pleasure Seekers); and lady in peril Carol (The Shuttered Room; The Immortal; Weekend of Terror). But there were  other impressive roles a pregnant teenager looking to get an abortion in Blue Denim; a priest’s sweet sister turned tango-dancing prostitute in The Cardinal; sex bomb Jean Harlow in Harlow; an unstable woman searching for her daughter real or imagined in Bunny Lake Is Missing; a psycho gold club weilding heiress in Once You Kiss a Stranger:  a foul-mouthed Southern hooker in Norwood; a reporter’s vampire-believing girlfriend in The Night Stalker; etc. Later films included Death Stalk; Bad Georgia Road; Fantasy Island (original TV movie + 10 guest spots): The Cat and the Canary (outstanding as Annabelle West; The Shape of Things to Come; Vigilante; Dark Tower; Blackout: Spirits; Neon Signs; and Vic.

Yes I was an obsessed fan that perplexed my family to no end. And there was no end. My upcoming book will hopefully be seen as objective and a fitting farewell to such a beautiful and talented actress who brought lots of unknowing happiness to this movie nerd while he was growing up. 

Here are links to some of the more accurate obituaries from The Guardian SyFY.com Vanity Fair


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Michael H September 12, 2019 - 12:09 pm

You conveyed the range of roles she played better than any other obit I’ve read. The writer at the WP had a stick up his butt IMO. I also appreciate that you explained why she was your personal favorite among all the sixties contract players. Did you read Illeana Douglas’ tweet about working with Carol on a film in the nineties? It was very revealing in that she was the only person on set to recognize Carol, who was reduced to a non-speaking day player in order to hold on to her insurance. Looking forward to your book.

Tom Lisanti September 12, 2019 - 4:24 pm

Thanks. Agreed about that Washington Post obit. It was flippant and dismissive. Didn’t see that Illeanna Douglas tweet thanks for pointing out. Always wondered why Carol did that and presumed her lines were cut.

Ron Green September 12, 2019 - 5:57 pm

Looking forward to your book, Tom! I love Bear Manor books. They’re good quality books and affordable, too! If you don’t mind me asking, what was Carol’s initial reaction when you told her about your book. Just curious why she didn’t consent to an interview sooner?

Tom Lisanti September 12, 2019 - 6:05 pm

Thanks. Not sure. I wrote to her over in summer 2018 and then wrote a second time in fall of 2019. Few months later she responded. Her only stipulation being that is was not a biography. Promised it was a career film & TV career retrospective highlighting her work in thriller, fantasy, suspense, horror, and sci-fi but would have some biographical material. She was cool with that.

John Black September 12, 2019 - 7:36 pm

Tom, has your book gone to press? If not, are you considering adding an updated introduction or afterword, given her recent passing?

Tom Lisanti September 12, 2019 - 8:15 pm

I actually took back the manuscript few weeks ago when decided to publish in spring 2020. Yes, it has been thoroughly updated to include her passing sorry to say.

John Black September 13, 2019 - 6:40 pm

It is sad, but the updated manuscript will be a fitting tribute to her.

Tom Lisanti September 13, 2019 - 6:42 pm

Yes, I hope so.


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