Audrey Young Dies; Actress and Widow of Billy Wilder

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The L.A. native was a Paramount contract player in the 1940s and was married to the legendary filmmaker for more than half a century.

Audrey Young, a singer-turned-Paramount contract player who was married to Billy Wilder for 53 years, has died. She was 89.

Born on Oct. 30, 1922, in Los Angeles, Young had mostly bit roles in several Paramount films during the 1940s. She met Wilder in 1944 on the Paramount Studios set of The Lost Weekend, which would win him the first of two Oscars for best director. They wed in 1949 and remained married until his death in 2002 at 95.

Her role as a hat-check girl in Lost Weekend was cut, but her hand is seen giving a hat to Milland.

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Young appeared in nearly two dozen films from 1944-49, starting with the Ginger Rogers-Ray Milland musical drama Lady in the Dark. Having begun her career as a singer with the Tommy Dorsey Band, she often sang onscreen, including in 1946’s Blue Skies, toplined by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

Her other film roles included the Abbott and Costello yarn The Wistful Woman of Wagon Gap, Duffy’s Tavern, The Stork Club, Follow That Woman, Danger Street, Love Me or Leave Me and a cameo opposite Gary Cooper in Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon.

Young later was a costume consultant on Wilder’s best picture Oscar winner The Apartment and Some Like It Hot, for which Orry-Kelly won the costume design Academy Award.

After her husband’s death, she donated $5 million to found the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in Westwood.