GUN CRAZY, (aka DEADLY IS THE FEMALE), Peggy Cummins, 1950
Credit: Everett Collection

After a brief but memorable career in both the British and American markets, retired actress Peggy Cummins has died at age 92.

The Associated Press reports that the Welsh-born performer, best known for her role in the 1950 noir Gun Crazy, perished Friday, Dec. 29 after suffering a stroke.

Though she left acting behind following the release of her last picture, the 1962 U.K. comedy In the Doghouse, Cummins’ legacy as the sharp-shooting femme fatale in the Dalton Trumbo-penned Gun Crazy endured over the course of her life, with the film being selected in 1998 for preservation by the Library of Congress and later appearing as a contender for a spot on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies list.

Widely considered a precursor to Arthur Penn’s revolutionary 1967 crime drama Bonnie and Clyde, Gun Crazy follows a bank-robbing pair (Cummins and Rope star John Dall) who embark on a bullet-riddled crime spree. The film and Cummins’ performance reportedly won over French New Wave filmmakers Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard in addition to Reservoir Dogs director Quentin Tarantino.

Cummins began her career as an actress on stage in Dublin, Ireland, transitioning to film with a role in Herbert Mason’s 1940 film Dr. O’Dowd. She went on to star in several Hollywood productions, namely two Joseph L. Mankiewicz films: Escape and The Late George Apley.

One of herearliest films, 1944’s Welcome, Mr. Washington, was thought to be lost until a print was found in a locked cupboard inside London’s Cinema Museum. It was re-screened for Cummins, who played one half of a penniless sisterly pair that falls for American servicemen during World War II, in January 2016.

“I loved being in Hollywood and can remember working with Rex Harrison, Victor Mature, Ronald Colman and Edward G Robinson,” Cummins told The Times after the presentation.

Outside of her work in movies, Cummins married in 1950 and later had two children, but when asked by The Times about rumors that she’d previously dated Howard Hughes and John F. Kennedy, she tactfully responded: “I’m not sure about that.”

Gun Crazy
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