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Lisa Gaye, the auburn-haired actress and dancer who starred in the 1956 musical films Rock Around the Clock and Shake Rattle & Rock!, died Thursday in Houston, her family announced. She was 81.
Survivors include her sister Debra Paget, who starred in such films as Broken Arrow, Love Me Tender and The Ten Commandments, and brother Frank Griffin, a Hollywood makeup artist who earlier acted under the screen name Reull Shayne. Another sister, actress Teala Loring, died in 2007.
In the box-office sensation Rock Around the Clock, featuring Bill Haley and the Comets, The Platters and others, Gaye was memorable dancing with Earl Barton (also the film’s choreographer) in front of a clapping crowd of teens in the show-stopping number “Rock-A-Beatin Boogie.”
In Shake Rattle & Rock! Gaye played the love interest of a disc jockey (Mike Connors) in the story about adults who want to ban rock ‘n’ roll because they think it leads to juvenile delinquency.
Also in the 1950s, Gaye had a recurring role as French model Collette DuBois on The Bob Cummings Show and was one of three women chasing rich guys on the TV version of How to Marry a Millionaire, also starring Barbara Eden.
The green-eyed Gaye guest-starred quite often on TV, appearing on such shows as Death Valley Days, Whirlybirds, Sea Hunt, Have Gun — Will Travel, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, Wagon Train, Perry Mason, Wild Wild West, The Flying Nun and, in her last onscreen appearance in 1970, Mod Squad.
Leslie Gaye Griffin was born March 6, 1935, in Denver. Her mother was an actress, and her family moved to Los Angeles after her sister Teala was signed to a contract by Paramount. Later, Debra was scooped up by 20th Century Fox. (Her mother gave each of her children a stage name.)
At the recommendation of Debra, she was screen-tested at Universal International and signed there in 1953. The studio changed her name to Lisa Gaye, and in 1954, she showed up as a bobbysoxer in The Glenn Miller Story, as a harem girl in Rhonda Fleming’s Yankee Pasha and as Audie Murphy’s fiancee in Drums Across the River.
Gaye also appeared opposite Dean Martin in Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957), and in Night of Evil (1961), she portrayed a raped student who goes on to win a beauty pageant but ends up on skid row.
Survivors also include her daughter Janell.
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