I have a thing for Lola Albright, a sultry blonde actress who brought an appealingly opaque quality to the sirens she played. She just had a surprising beauty that felt grounded in her surroundings rather than piled on by Hollywood, and she starred in one of my favorite episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “The Woman Who Wanted to Live” (1962).
After several uncredited bit parts — including as a showgirl in the 1948 classic Easter Parade starring Judy Garland (1922-1969) and Fred Astaire (1899-1987) — Albright made her credited film debut in Champion (1949), the hit boxing movie with Kirk Douglas (b. 1917) and Marilyn Maxwell (1920-1972).
Albright was a favorite in B westerns, but rose above B status in hits like Kid Galahad (1962) with Elvis Presley (1935-1977) and in the award-winning parody Lord Love a Duck (1966), a black comedy that earned her an acting prize at the Berlinale.
She enjoyed recurring roles on The Bob Cummings Show (1955-1957), Peyton Place (1965-1966; replacing an ailing Dorothy Malone (b. 1925) — who is also now in her nineties) and Branded (1965-1966), but was probably best-remembered as the bombshell of Peter Gunn (1958-1961) opposite Craig Stevens (1918-2000), a role for which she received an Emmy nomination.
Albright was also renowned for her luscious singing on Peter Gunn, a series dripping with style to this day. Along with her televised warbling, Albright released torch-style albums.
She would continue making enigmatic episodic TV appearances sporadically, including a delicious turn on Columbo in 1976 sparring with William Shatner (b. 1931) — Albright: “Silver certificates... I'd paper my bedroom with them if I could.” Shatner: “I wouldn't put it past you.” Albright: “Where would you put it?”) — until her final on-screen gig, on a 1984 episode of Airwolf.
A phantom IMDb post about Albright going before the camera for a Web series recently seems to have vanished.
She is survived by a step-daughter from one of her three marriages.
Albright's gorgeous performance of “It's Always You” after the jump ...