Lizabeth Scott, Famed Film Noir Actress of the '40s and '50s, Dies at 92

Courtesy of Everett Collection
Scott as seen in the 1950 Paramount film 'Paid in Full.'

The sultry star appeared in such films as 'Dead Reckoning,' 'I Walk Alone,' 'Pitfall' and 'Dark City.'

Lizabeth Scott, who played an aloof and alluring femme fatale in such film noir classics as I Walk Alone, Pitfall and Dark City, has died. She was 92.

Scott, who also starred as a gangster's wife opposite Humphrey Bogart in Dead Reckoning (1947), died Jan. 31 of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her friend Mary Goodstein told the Los Angeles Times.

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Scott, a sultry blonde with a smoky voice in the mold of Lauren Bacall, played nightclub singers in 1947's I Walk Alone opposite Burt Lancaster and in William Dieterle's Dark City, a 1950 release that marked Charlton Heston's first major Hollywood role.

In Pitfall (1948), she was a fashion model that married man and insurance investigator Dick Powell could not resist. And in Too Late for Tears (1949), also starring Dan Duryea, Scott killed not one but two husbands. (The poster for that movie proclaims, "She got what she wanted … with lies … with kisses … with murder!")

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Scott displayed a rarely seen comic touch when she appeared opposite Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Scared Stiff (1953), and she played a press agent who discovers a young country singer (Elvis Presley) in 1957's Loving You.

Her last movie appearance came in Pulp (1972), revolving around a writer (Michael Caine) of sleazy pulp novels. One of her ex-husbands in the film is played by Mickey Rooney.

Born Emma Matzo in Scranton, Pa., Scott, who was of Russian Heritage, attended the Alvienne School of Drama in New York. She worked as a model for Harper’s Bazaar and in 1942 landed a role as the understudy for Tallulah Bankhead in Thornton Wilder’s Broadway production of The Skin of Our Teeth — though the tempestuous Bankhead, who did not get along with Scott, stubbornly never missed a performance.

A bit later, with backing from producer Hal Wallis, Scott was signed to a contract at Paramount Pictures. She made her film debut in You Came Along (1945) opposite Robert Cummings — Ayn Rand was a co-writer of the screenplay — followed by The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), with Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas and Van Heflin.

Her other films included Desert Fury (1947) with John Hodiak, Easy Living (1949), Paid in Full (1950), The Company She Keeps (1951) — as an ex-convict — The Racket (1951) with Robert Mitchum, Stolen Face (1952), Bad for Each Other (1953) and The Weapon (1956).

In 1957, the sensuous star released an album of torch songs and romantic ballads titled Lizabeth.

Asked in a 1996 interview why film noir had become so popular, Scott said: “The films that I had seen growing up were always, ‘Boy meets girl, boy ends up marrying girl, and they go off into the sunset,’ ” she said. “And suddenly [in the 1940s], psychology was taking a grasp on society in America.

"That’s when they got into these psychological, emotional things that people feel. That was the feeling of film noir. … It was a new realm, something very exiting, because you were coming closer and closer to reality.”

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