Roberta Haynes, Gary Cooper's Co-Star in 'Return to Paradise,' Dies at 91

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Roberta Haynes

She often played Mexican, Native American or Polynesian women in the movies and rued being typecast.

Roberta Haynes, who starred opposite Gary Cooper in the South Pacific-set 1953 movie Return to Paradise, has died. She was 91.

Haynes died Thursday night in Delray Beach, Florida, her son, Jonathan Ward, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Haynes portrayed a native on the island of Matareva who has a romance and then a child with Cooper's drifter character in Return to Paradise, directed by Mark Robson and based on a novel by James Michener.

In a 2015 interview, Haynes said she adored working with the actor, who she noted was ill and on medication during filming on location in British West Samoa. "Don’t feel bad if I don't make a pass at you," he told her.

She also appeared in two Westerns in 1953: Gun Fury, directed by Raoul Walsh, and The Nebraskan, in which she co-starred with Philip Carey.

With her dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin, Haynes often played Mexican, Native American or Polynesian women in the movies. "I wanted to be a serious actress, to play the roles that Ingrid Bergman played. But I was always typecast as a 'fiery Mexican,'" she said in a 2017 interview with Vulture. "The 'good girl' roles always went to actresses with blond hair and blue eyes."

An accident involving gunfire and explosions on the set of a Western severely damaged her eyesight. She did not work for several years until operations restored most of her vision.

Born Roberta Schack on Aug. 19, 1927, in Wichita Falls, Texas, she and her family moved to Los Angeles when she was a child.

She had uncredited roles in the 1949 films Knock on Any Door, starring Humphrey Bogart, and John Huston's We Were Strangers, which featured Jennifer Jones and John Garfield in a story set in Cuba.

She appeared on Broadway in 1950 in The Madwoman of Chaillot with John Carradine and then with Lee J. Cobb in The Fighter (1952), which took place in Mexico.

In 1957, she starred on live television with Roger Moore in a Matinee Theatre adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and played a South Seas princess in the movie adventure Hell Ship Mutiny.

Haynes guest-starred on TV shows including Climax!, Lawman, Johnny Staccato, The F.B.I. and Falcon Crest and appeared in such other films as Point Blank (1967), The Adventurers (1970), Pete 'n' Tillie (1972) and Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989).

She worked at the Cinecitta film studio in Rome in the mid-1960s and as a vice president for television at 20th Century Fox in the '70s, and she went on to produce several telefilms. Haynes also was writing screenplays and pitching projects up until her death, her son said.

In the Vulture story, she described how LSD therapy helped her in the late '50s and said she had an "on and off" relationship with Marlon Brando and an affair with Richard Burton.

Haynes also had three husbands, including Hollywood agent Jay Kanter and actor Larry Ward (ABC's The Dakotas). She and Ward divorced in 1971, and she never remarried.

Survivors also include her grandchildren, Gemma and Mason.