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WRITTEN ON THE WIND, Dorothy Malone, 1956
Credit: Everett Collection

Written on the Wind

Dorothy Malone, an Oscar winner for her turn as a nymphomaniac heiress in Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind and television star on the 1960s primetime soap Peyton Place, died Friday of natural causes, according to her manager Burt Shapiro. She was 92.

After a steady career in bit parts and supporting roles, Malone rose to stardom in the 1950s, earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Marylee Hadley, daughter of a Texas oil tycoon with a vociferous appetite for the men in her town, in Sirk’s 1956 melodrama. She starred alongside Robert Stack, Rock Hudson, and Lauren Bacall in an off-the-rails performance where she pursued Hudson unabashedly and performed an impassioned, after-hours mambo dance. Malone costarred with Hudson twice more, in The Tarnished Angels and The Last Sunset.

Many more knew Malone from her television career, starring as Constance Mackenzie on Peyton Place from 1964-1968, appearing in more than 400 episodes. She returned to the character in two television movies, 1977’s Murder in Peyton Place and 1985’s Peyton Place: The Next Generation.

Malone’s last screen appearance was a memorable one, portraying Hazel Dobkins, a mother accused of murdering her family in 1992’s Basic Instinct.

WRITTEN ON THE WIND, from left, Lauren Bacall, Dorothy Malone, 1956
Credit: Everett Collection

Dorothy Malone was born Dorothy Maloney on January 30, 1925 in Chicago, Ill. Her family relocated to Dallas, Tex., where she attended high school and Southern Methodist University. Spotted by a talent scout while still a college student, Malone signed a contract with RKO at the age of 18 and went on to appear in a series of B-movies and small supporting roles. Most memorably, she portrayed a bespectacled book clerk who flirts with Private Detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) in The Big Sleep (1946).

Dying her hair platinum blonde and steamrolling her good girl image in Written on the Wind proved to be her big break, earning her an Oscar and juicier film roles. She starred in such films as Too Much, Too Soon (1958), Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), and Warlock (1959).

In the 1960s, she turned to television, guest starring on The Greatest Show on Earth and eventually landing her most enduring role on Peyton Place.

Malone was married and divorced three times, to actor Jacques Bergerac, Robert Tomarkin, and Charles Huston Bell. She is survived by her two daughters by Bergerac, Mimi and Diane.

Written on the Wind
  • Movie
  • 99 minutes