Carol Lynley, best known for playing the ship’s singer in The Poseidon Adventure, has died. She was 77.
Lynley’s career as an actress spans movies, television, and commercials beginning with her debut as a teenager in Clairol and Pepsodent commercials in the 1950s. She also gained early attention for a 1955 cover of Life magazine. She made her feature film debut in Disney’s 1958 family drama The Light in the Forest.
She starred in a wide variety of films, including Return to Peyton Place, The Last Sunset with Rock Hudson and Kirk Douglas, and Bunny Lake is Missing, in which she portrayed the mother of a kidnapped child. Lynley was known for waifish sensuality, which translated into one of her most iconic roles as screen siren Jean Harlow in the 1965 biopic Harlow. She often employed her unique looks as a model, even posing for Playboy in 1965.
The Poseidon Adventure marked her biggest hit, and Lynley notably sang onscreen as the doomed ship’s on-board singer. The song she performed in the film, “The Morning After,” went on to win the 1973 Oscar for Best Song.
Lynley was born Carol Anne Jones on Feb. 13, 1942 in New York City. Studying dance as a child, she worked as a model and in television from her teen years. She performed on numerous live television shows, including The Goodyear Playhouse, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Danger.
Her big break was a Broadway performance in Blue Denim, in which she portrayed a teen unwed mother seeking a then-illegal abortion. She won the Theatre World Award as one of the most promising personalities for 1956-7 on the Broadway stage, and the production earned her a 7-year contract at 20th Century Fox. She later starred in the film adaptation of the play, though the ending was changed due to its controversial subject matter. This alongside Disney’s The Light in the Forest earned her a Golden Globe nomination for most promising newcomer.
During the peak of her career in the 1960s, Lynley also had a starry personal life, having been linked to both Frank Sinatra and a lengthy affair with TV host David Frost.
She was also a frequent television guest star, appearing on a wide range of shows including Kojak, Mannix, It Takes a Thief, The Invaders, Hawaii Five-O, and many more.
In her later years, she worked primarily in low budget and indie films, including The Maltese Bippy, Norwood, The Four Deuces, Spirits, Flypaper, and Drowning on Dry Land. Her final onscreen performance was in 2006’s short film Vic.
Lynley was married to publicist Michael Selsman from 1960-64. The couple had one daughter, Jill Selsman.