Filled Under: Mari Blanchard
Mari Blanchard was an American actress, known for her roles as a B movie femme fatale in American films of the 1950s and early 1960s.
Mari Blanchard was born on April 13, 1927 in Long Beach, California. The daughter of an oil tycoon and a psychotherapist, she suffered from severe polio from the age of nine, which denied her a hoped-for dancing career. For several years, she worked hard to rehabilitate her limbs from paralysis, swimming and later even performing on the trapeze at Cole Brothers Circus. She then attended the University of Southern California from where she graduated with a degree in international law. In the late 1940’s, she joined the Conover Agency as an advertising model and at the same time, was promoted by famed cartoonist and writer Al Capp, becoming the inspiration for one of his “L’il Abner” characters. Blanchard was spotted in an advertisement for bubble bath in 1950 by a producer from Paramount and was offered work in movies. Most of her work though was in small roles in a number of films at MGM, RKO, and Paramount, until she was signed by Universal-International in 1952. Her first film at Universal was “Back at the Front” (1952). One of her most memorable roles was the Venusian queen, Allura, in the 1953 comedy “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars”. She also starred in “Destry” (1954), a western with Audie Murphy. Universal then refused to renew their contract with Blanchard and her career then began to fail. Free-lancing for lesser studios she recieved roles in B-movies such as “She Devil” (1957) and “No Place to Land” (1958). Her last role of note in film was as the cheerful and likeable town madam in the John Wayne western comedy “McLintock!” (1963).
With her film career in decline Blanchard turned to television and appeared in shows such as “Rawhide”, “77 Sunset Strip”, “Perry Mason”, and “The Virginian” to name a few. In the 1960–1961 television season, Blanchard starred as Kathy O’Hara in the short lived (14 episodes) NBC Western series “Klondike” with Ralph Taeger, James Coburn, and Joi Lansing. Her last television appearance was in “It Takes A Thief” in 1968.
Mari Blanchard died of cancer on May 10, 1970 at the age of 43 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.