Audrey Totter, 1940s Film Noir Actress, Dies at Age 95By: Meaghan Ellis - December 17, 2013
Famed film noir noir actress Audrey Totter died Thursday, Dec.12 at the West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles. She was 95 years old. The Washington Post reports that Totter’s daughter, Mea Lane, specified that her death was directly related to congestive heart failure following a recent stroke.
When the cameras were rolling, Totter was widely known for her temptress persona, as she often portrayed the risque role of the dark seductress, commonly referred to as the ‘dangerous dame.’ Totter appeared in numerous Hollywood films during the 1940s and 50s, serving as a prominent pillar during the noir period.
In 1944, Totter received a chance at her first big break. She skyrocketed to stardom at the beginning of her career with the Hollywood films, Lady in the Lake and The Unsuspected. Both films were released in 1947.
Over the next 5 years, Totter’s career soared and she was coined as ‘one of Hollywood’s most alluring actresses.’ She had become known for her portrayal of ‘cynical and malevolent’ characters, according to film historian Eddie Muller.
(image)One of her most notable roles came with the 1949 release of the film, Tension. Totter portrayed the ruthless wife of a insipid pharmacist. Totter’s character was described as “a vile voluptuary — sin incarnate,” Muller pointed out in his book Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir, released in 2001.
By 1952, Totter’s life began to venture down a different road as she slowly transitioned into the world of domesticity. According to UPI, Totter took a leave from the film industry to focus on her marriage after giving birth to their daughter.
Totter attempted to make a return to television and film years later. However, as Hollywood began to evolve and transition toward a new direction, Totter’s femme fatale signature style of acting faded from the spotlight.
In 1995, Totter re-entered the film world. Unfortunately, she shared that she had no interest in portraying any of the roles that were offered. As a woman in her 70s, most film directors envisioned her in the role of a ‘nice grandmother,’ and Totter explained that it just wasn’t her style.
“Boring!” she said. “Critics always said I acted best with a gun in my hand.”
Totter leaves behind a daughter and granddaughter.