Filled Under: Nina Foch
“Believe it or not, teaching is the most rewarding thing I do. It has been the most successful thing I’ve done in my life.” ~ Nina Foch
Nina Foch was a Dutch-born American actress and leading lady in many 1940s and 1950s films. Foch’s movie fame came during the height of the 1940s, when she played cool, aloof, and often a foreign woman of sophistication. Foch would ultimately be featured in over 80 films and hundreds of television shows in her career.
Nina Foch was born Nina Consuelo Maud Fock, April 20, 1924, in Leiden, Holland. Her parents were American silent film and stage actress actress Consuelo Flowerton and Dutch classical music conductor Dirk Fock. Her parents divorced while she was a toddler and she and her mother moved to New York where Foch was encouraged to indulge in her creative and artistic leanings. A teen concert pianist, she also excelled at painting and sculpture, but it was acting that she loved. Foch trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, studying with acting gurus Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. She changed her her last name to a classier sounding “Foch” and began to appear briefly on the regional stage before earning a starlet contract with Columbia at age 19. Nin Foch’s debut was in Bela Lugosi’s “The Return of the Vampire” (1944). She had her first standout role in the Chopin biopic “A Song to Remember” (1945) starring Cornel Wilde. That led to Foch’s title role in one of her best films, “My Name Is Julia Ross” (1945), earning great reviews as a heroine on the brink of madness. Foch, in the next few years made several ‘lesser’ movies such as “I Love a Mystery” (1945), “The Guilt of Janet Ames” (1947), “The Dark Past” (1948), and her last one for Columbia, “Johnny Allegro” (1949) with George Raft.
Disappointed by the direction her film career was heading, Nina Foch began to actively pursue the stage, where she scored a Broadway hit with the classy comedy “John Loves Mary” in 1947, followed by productions of “The Respectful Prostitute” and “Twelfth Night”. A one-time member of the American Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, she performed as Isabella in “Measure for Measure” and Katharine in “The Taming of the Shrew”. During this time MGM used her talents in supporting roles, albeit very memorable ones in some of the most famous movies ever made. In 1951, Foch played the ritzy patron and paramour-in-waiting opposite Gene Kelly in the musical “An American in Paris”, eventually losing him to Leslie Caron. Foch played Marie Antoinette in “Scaramouche” (1952) and in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” (1956) in which she played Bithia, the Pharaoh’s sister who found the baby Moses in the bullrushes, adopted him as her son, and joined him and the Hebrews in their Exodus from Egypt. Nina Foch received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the boardroom drama “Executive Suite” (1954), starring William Holden. Foch also appeared in “Spartacus” (1960) opposite Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier as a woman who chooses gladiators to fight to the death in the ring, simply for her entertainment.
In her later years Nina Foch was seen less and less, but became a widely respected acting teacher in the Los Angeles area, most notably at USC, where she taught “Directing the Actor” classes at the USC School of Cinematic Arts from the 1960s up to her death. Foch also worked as an independent script-breakdown consultant for many prominent Hollywood directors.
Foch lived in Beverly Hills, California for 40 years. Foch was married three times, the first was in 1954 to James Lipton, the future host of Inside the Actors Studio. That marriage ended in divorce. Foch then married Dennis Brito in 1959. The couple had one child before divorcing in 1963. Her last marriage was to Michael Dewell in 1967 . That marriage lasted twenty-six years before also ending in divorce in 1993.
Nina Foch died on December 5, 2008, of complications from the blood disorder myelodysplasia at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Her only son, Dr. Dirk De Brito, told the Los Angeles Times that “She had become ill while teaching at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.”