Audrey Dalton

Quad city times article by laura wagner in nov 2023

Audrey Dalton was born in Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland, on January 21, 1934, the third of five children of Emmet Dalton and Alice Shannon; she was preceded by Emmet Michael and Sybil, and followed by Richard and Nuala. Emmet Dalton (1898-1978) led an eventful life: During the First World War, he fought in the British Army with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, rising from a commissioned second lieutenant when he joined up, to captain. Awarded the Military Cross, he was often referred to as “The Boy Hero of Ginchy.” He was a major general in the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army in the Irish Civil War. Dalton was also a good friend of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, and was with him in 1922 when Collins was ambushed and killed in Cork. (Read more about him in the 2016 book Emmet Dalton: Somme Soldier, Irish General, Film Pioneer by Sean Boyne.)

Audrey’s interest in acting started early: “I was probably five years old [laughs]—I just allllways wanted to be an actress, as long as I can remember. Probably from just being in theaters. Irish people generally are more theater-going than in a lot of places. I wanted it right from the beginning. I did the usual, school plays. I attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart School and while there played Antigone in one of the school plays when I was 13!”

Emmet Dalton moved to London in 1941 and became a sales agent for Paramount Pictures. In 1947, he became Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn’s personal representative in Britain. In December 1949, the rest of his family joined him in London, and Audrey finished high school there.


At 17, Audrey auditioned at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). “They didn’t accept anyone ’til 18, so I had a few months in a preparatory academy that they ran. I was at the Royal Academy until I came to the U.S., which was a little under two years later.”


In 1952, Dalton was appearing in a RADA play when a Paramount executive in London saw her and asked her to screen-test for an upcoming Hollywood movie, The Girls of Pleasure Island. Dalton and two other aspiring British actresses, Joan Elan and Dorothy Bromiley, landed Pleasure Island’s three ingénue leads. (“The Irish papers kicked up quite a fuss over my selection as a typical English girl,” Audrey told columnist Florabel Muir.) In March ’52, the ladies left London and, after a few days’ stopover in New York City, continued on to California, where Girls of Pleasure Islandfilming began in late May. The movie was based on William Maier’s 1949 novel Pleasure Island (a fictional South Pacific island), adapted and directed by F. Hugh Herbert. After 20 days of shooting, Herbert fell ill and was hospitalized. First assistant director Alvin Ganzer finished the film and received a co-director credit

Dalton, Elan and Bromiley play the naïve, sheltered teenage daughters of the island’s British administrator Leo Genn. They get their first glimpse of young men when 1500 Marines arrive to build an airstrip. These men haven’t seen a woman in 18 months, and hilarity ensues. Dalton, who “bestows her gentleness” (East Kent Gazette) on lieutenant Don Taylor, comes across well, especially in a quiet, sweet scene with Genn, talking about how much they both love the island. Jimmie Fidler predicted in his column that Dalton was “headed for the top rung in movie fame. She has beauty, and what’s equally as important, acting ability.”


Paramount went all-out publicizing the trio (called “New Paramount Personalities” during the end credits), and they became a Life magazine cover story (July 28, 1952): Inside, was a photographic essay by John Engstead, with the gals demonstrating “first an English conception of what American girls are like—sultry, giggling, fervidly leave-taking, jitterbugging; then America’s conception of English girls—demure, tea-drinking, shuddering at the idea of a goodnight kiss, dancing with straight backs at a good yard’s distance from their escorts.” Life quoted an unnamed Paramount editor who remarked, “The Bromiley dame is a pixie, Dalton is ladylike, but the third one is hard to dig.” The three girls and a pair of Pleasure Island actors, Don Taylor and Richard Shannon, were scheduled to go to Korea to entertain U.S. troops in battle zones and hospitals, but at the last minute Bromiley got appendicitis and couldn’t travel. Paramount substituted one of their “Golden Circle” contract players, Kathryn Grant, to take her place

Dalton told Tom Weaver, “Kathryn Grant was fine, and fit in well. That Korea trip was an incredible experience. Flights were long in those days before jets: We flew from Burbank to Travis Air Force Base [in Solano County, California] at night and the next morning we flew to Wake Island or Guam, I can’t remember which, for refueling. The next day we took off for Tokyo, where we stayed at the famous Imperial Hotel, Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘earthquake-proof’ hotel. A couple of days there and then on to Seoul. All our travel was on MATS [Military Air Transport Service] planes—backs against the sides of the plane and small, upright seats.

“In South Korea, we traveled from one base to another every day in an Army truck—always in a convoy of other trucks. The Army treated us so well, serving us their best food. Each night, The Girls of Pleasure Island was shown to a huge audience. After the film, we three girls put on a short skit wearing our beautiful Edith Head ballgowns. The rain was pretty much constant, so as we walked from the truck to the room where the film had been shown, we thought it was funny as we slipped around holding those tulle creations out of the mud and puddles. Inside, we’d sit on the edge of the stage and chat with the guys. Paramount had arranged for us to take a note from anyone who wanted us to send a message home for them. The studio collected the names and addresses and mailed the messages home.

When we were close to the border, Don Taylor and I were flown in the general’s bubble helicopter up to the front where the fighting was actually going on. The two of us were greeted like you can’t imagine and just talked and posed for pictures with the guys. This whole experience is something I will never forget.”

Dalton was the only one of the three girls to continue with a long-term Paramount contract. “Serenely beautiful, dark-haired, with gray-green eyes, she is 18, intelligent and Irish. Looks like a winner,” wrote Photoplay. Her first assignment was a loan-out to 20th Century-Fox for My Cousin Rachel (1952), an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s then-new Gothic novel, with Olivia de Havilland in the title role and Richard Burton making his American film bow. Director Henry Koster told Louella Parsons that he requested Dalton because “I saw her on the screen and I think she has great possibilities as a coming actress.” The young master of a mansion on England’s Cornish coast, Philip Ashley (Burton) tortures himself over his enigmatic cousin Rachel (he can’t decide whether she murdered his beloved guardian or not). The Boston Globe wrote that Dalton gave a “sweet and warm characterization as the girl who wishes Philip would love her instead of Rachel….” In one scene with Burton, Audrey displays gutsy resolve, as she confronts him about his hopeless fixation on de Havilland

Dalton said of her second movie job, “I was working at a different studio and with a director, Henry Koster, I didn’t know—I don’t recall if I’d ever even met him. To my astonishment, he greeted me as a professional, something I wasn’t sure of myself, and we dove right into the scene being shot, effortlessly. He spoke quietly to me about that first scene, and others that followed during the filming, with a rehearsal run-through and off we went. He accepted my interpretation and our work together on the film went smoothly from there on. He came across to me as being confident, deeply involved and knowledgeable about his work. Henry Koster was probably the quietest and most low-key director I ever worked with.

“Burton and de Havilland appeared to get along well when they were working, but off-camera on the set she retired to her dressing room and he stayed on the set, yakking away to the crew and with [English actor] Ronald Squire, who had become a great friend. The two of them spent their time reminiscing about work and other actors in London, laughing uproariously and shooing me away when they felt the story they were telling was too risqué for my young ears (I was 18). My scenes with Burton were magic for me, he was never condescending and I always felt at ease. The scenes practically played themselves. I knew of his reputation as a serious and dedicated actor and couldn’t believe my good fortune to be working with him.

Working with Burton and de Havilland in our scenes together was different. The atmosphere was a little uptight as the quiet de Havilland made clear the scene was hers, as she measured up to Burton. They were so different from each other. He was all noise and banter, fun and bluster, and oh, that voice! I was so impressed to be working with him on his first Hollywood film and he seemed to know how shy and overwhelmed I was. He went out of his way to try to draw me out and talk to me when we weren’t shooting.

“De Havilland was always courteous to me and professional and I continued to be in awe of her. She had such control of her work and never displayed any nervousness. The crew’s respect for her apparent.

My Cousin Rachel was also the first of many times in my career where I had to ride a horse, and sidesaddle at that. I don’t think my fear showed! In spite of all the Westerns I did later, I continued to be very wary and scared around horses.”

Reporters were struck by Audrey’s resemblance to Joan Bennett, and some readers wrote to movie magazines asking if she was Bennett’s daughter. This caused further confusion when Bennett’s real-life daughter, Melinda Markey, had a small part in Dalton’s next.

Later in 1952, Dalton was loaned out again to Fox to play Annette, daughter of Richard and Julia Sturges (Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck), in Titanic (she beat out Terry Moore and Margaret O’Brien for the role). Based on one of the major news events of the 20th century, the sinking of the British luxury liner, director Jean Negulesco’s film bases a lot of its Oscar-winning story (pre-iceberg) on the wealthy Sturges family: Richard and Julia’s marriage is in trouble, and Annette falls for another passenger, handsome young college student Gifford Rogers (Robert Wagner). But the latter couple’s romance is “suddenly split asunder” (Spokane Chronicle) when the “unsinkable” Titanic fails to live up to its hype and, as the closing narrator puts it, “passes from the British Registry.” Regarding her on-screen parents, Dalton told journalist Nick Thomas in a 2016 interview that Webb “was very funny with a sharp wit,” and Stanwyck “a dream—the ultimate pro, always prepared and ready to help.”

There is a certain similarity, Dalton noted, between the fictional characters in her Titanic and the 1997 megahit directed by James Cameron: “The family that was ‘dysfunctional,’ so to speak, the love affair with the young man and so on. Even the opening sequence of the family arriving at the boat, the flurry of the passengers and everything, was just so similar to the beginning of [the 1953] Titanic. …I thought the dialogue in the new one was just inane. But it’s a fascinating picture, no question. And what a success! Of course, now people say about me, ‘She was in the original Titanic,’ and I have to stress the in, not the on!” she laughs.

On January 1, 1953, teenage Audrey and UCLA student James Brown, 22, wed in Los Altos, California. They kept the marriage a secret until that May. Brown later became an assistant director.

Finally making a second movie for her home studio Paramount, Dalton joined the cast of the Bob Hope comedy Casanova’s Big Night (1954). “Joan [Fontaine] was very effervescent and a great match for Bob Hope. They just traded barbs all the time and laughed and joked,” Audrey told interviewer Rick Armstrong in 2016. “It was fun. On the set, he always had the same group of small-part players with him. He knew all these people and would make sure that they were included somewhere in his movie so they always had a job. He took care of people. He was very, very sweet. In fact, when I first came [to Hollywood], I was 18 and on my own. He had a son and a daughter, who were a little younger than me by a couple of years. On Sunday evenings, he would sometimes take me to dinner with his wife. They would come pick me up and take me to dinner because they figured I needed a little looking after. He and Dolores were kindness itself.”

Casanova’s Big Night is one of Hope’s funniest films. Dalton has little to do except look gorgeous playing the lady that Hope, masquerading as the great lover Casanova, has been paid to romance, to test her virtue as her marriage to Robert Hutton looms. She wore a dress made of genuine Honiton lace that belonged to one of the last czarinas, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. “The dress cost over $1000 and weighed 56 pounds! And I’m presuming the $1000 was what Paramount paid when they purchased it for their wardrobe department,” Dalton said. “Studios had huge wardrobe collections in those days.”


In October 1953, Dalton and Richard Allan (from 1953’s Niagara) won first place for Best Newcomers in Photoplay’s “Choose Your Stars” awards. The ceremony took place at the Rodeo Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel, with Barbara Stanwyck acting as emcee. According to Dalton, she was “very pregnant” at the event; and that same month, she gave birth to her first child, daughter Tara—just weeks after the filming of Casanova’s Big Night! Apparently, most people involved with the production had no idea of her condition. (Dalton points out: “The costumes helped.”)

“Why should people know?” she remarked at the time. “The wardrobe people knew, but nobody else did until I told them.” A few months later, she reflected on her career for interviewer Philip K. Scheuer: “More has happened to me in the past two years than I’d ever dreamed possible. …I have made four pictures, toured Korea and the United States, married and had a baby.

“I had wanted to act on the stage and was very determined never to do films. It’s amazing what happens when you’re offered a film contract!” Dalton today says that at that time, she liked the fact that she could work for perhaps a week on a TV episode, perhaps four weeks on a film, “and then be off for a while to take care of and have time with my family. This is why I never did a TV series and why after I had children I did not go away on location—except maybe to London or Dublin, where I had family.”

After leaving Paramount, Dalton’s first film as a freelancer began shooting in early June ’54: She was leading lady to Alan Ladd in the Western Drum Beat (1954), made by Warner Bros. and Ladd’s company Jaguar Productions. Delmer Daves wrote and directed the story of renegade Modocs threatening to break a peace treaty in the Oregon-California territory. Location shooting took place in Sedona, Arizona, where the cast “sweat[ed] it out in the 115-degree heat” (Star Press). Miami Daily News reviewer Herb Kelly ribbed Ladd, claiming he “shows some real tenderness in his love scenes with Audrey Dalton. Instead of the robot-like smooching he usually does, he’s more hep … especially in a night scene in the woods with Miss Dalton.” As an Eastern girl smitten with Ladd, Dalton gave her customary lady-like portrayal; Marisa Pavan, as an Indian girl also in love with Ladd, has a more colorful and active role in the proceedings.

In 2016, Dalton remembered Ladd as “wonderful to work with—very professional. He was very quiet off the set, very much a gentleman. I knew his family in Los Angeles. My father had known Alan because they were both into racehorses. When I came here [to California], Alan was asked to keep an eye on me. He took me into his family. He had a daughter who was a student at UCLA and she and I became good friends. We’re still friends.”

She was signed by MGM for The Prodigal, a $5,000,000 “wannabe epic” based on the Bible story of the Prodigal Son; it was adapted by Samuel James Larsen, a cerebral palsy sufferer who lived in a hospital and typed with a pencil in his mouth. Lana Turner starred as the temptress Samarra and Edmund Purdom played the title role, with Dalton as Purdom’s shy betrothed. Modern Screen summed this one up pretty well: “Wait till you dig Lana in those bugle beads! She is a real-life goddess for whom young men willingly dive into a pit of fire. And when Edmund Purdom spots her, he says goodbye Poppa (Walter Hampden) farewell Ruth (Audrey Dalton) hail Samarra (that’s Lana) I’m your slave.” Unfortunately, the movie gave Audrey very little to do.

Right after The Prodigal wrapped, Dalton went to England for writer-director Ken Hughes’ Confession (1955), a “punchy” (Banbury Guardian) crime thriller involving a bank heist, murder in a confessional, and a family torn apart by a more modern Prodigal Son (Sydney Chaplin). Dalton makes a good showing as Chaplin’s “charming and ingratiating sister” (Kinematograph Weekly) whose slow realization that he’s a crook and murderer causes her much anguish (or, as the Birmingham Daily Gazette says, she “goes all broody”). Confession, called The Deadliest Sin in the U.S., was a “money-spinner overseas” (Kinematograph Weekly), doing smash box office. Dalton followed this with the John Payne Korean War movie Hold Back the Night (1956): In flashbacks, she’s seen as Kitty, a Melbourne girl to whom Payne is attracted out of loneliness (and vice versa). She only had a couple of scenes, but even in her limited screen time, she gives a moving performance as she tells Payne about her husband (she’s unsure whether he is dead or a prisoner of war). “Because John Payne wanted me to play Kitty, I was paid very well indeed for a small part,” Audrey recalled. “Never knew why. Never met him before or since!”

In May 1956, Dalton appeared in her first TV drama, The 20th Century-Fox Hour’s “The Empty Room,” as Carey, a girl determined to prevent the reunion of her father (Patric Knowles) and mother (Virginia Field), who ran out on him many years before. An unimpressed Variety reviewer re-dubbed it “Stella-Dallas-on-the-Thames” and had no use for any of the characters, including Dalton’s “babbling, idiotic” Carey.

With science fiction and horror pictures all the rage, Dalton signed on to make The Monster That Challenged the World (1957) with Tim Holt. “It was presented to me at a time when I wasn’t working. And I always like to work! I was never discriminating with a capital D. I just wanted to work, I enjoyed working. I’ve always felt with those science fiction things that just that one little nugget of ‘well, it could be true’ kind of gets you [laughs]! So, it was fun.” Monster was based on just that kind of true-life “nugget”: A Mojave Desert lake bed, dry for decades, had recently flooded, hatching as many as 4,000,000 long-buried eggs, and soon the newly formed lake was teeming with fresh-water shrimp. Monster’s screenplay made the eggs prehistoric, and the late-blooming mollusks inside grow to the size of small trucks and terrorize California’s Salton Sea area. Dalton, playing a scientist’s secretary at a Navy base, has a dramatic scene in which she emotionally unloads on hero Holt about the recent death of her pilot husband.

Dalton had started at the top, acting with such stars as Olivia de Havilland, Richard Burton, Barbara Stanwyck and Alan Ladd. Asked by Tom Weaver if she felt Monsterwas a step down, she replied, “Of course it was. But I was also just pregnant, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work much longer—in those days, once you were pregnant, you couldn’t work. So I thought, ‘Well, let me get another one under my belt while I can!’”

At the end of ’56, she appeared in an episode of Lux Video Theatre, “Michael and Mary,” with Patric Knowles (this time as her husband). Audrey did not return to acting until the following summer and fall, when she did two more Lux Video Theatres (“Barren Harvest” and “Judge Not”), two Bob Cummings Shows (“Bob Hires a Maid” and “Bob the Gunslinger”) and a Men of Annapolis (“Look Alike”).

In between, she filmed two 1958 movies, Thundering Jets and Separate Tables. The former, shot on location at Edwards Air Force Base, had her as secretary Susan, girlfriend of USAF Flight Test School captain Rex Reason. Resentful and “broody” over being assigned as an instructor for novice test pilots, Reason makes everyone’s life miserable, Dalton included. Dalton was ostensibly Reason’s leading lady, but it’s her scenes with the charming Buck Class (as Major Mike Geron) that sparkle. She had a smaller part in director Delbert Mann’s dramatic Separate Tables, based on two Terence Rattigan one-act plays and set in an English hotel. But what a movie and cast to be a part of! The stars were Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster and Gladys Cooper, plus David Niven and Wendy Hiller, both of whom won Oscars for their performances in this Best Picture nominee. Dalton, portraying Rod Taylor’s love interest, is not really involved in the main storyline of Niven’s revelation that he has exaggerated his military career, and does shameful things in the darkness of theaters.

In 1958, Dalton’s small-screen credits included two Wagon Trains (“The John Wilbot Story” and “The Liam Fitzmorgan Story”), The Millionaire (“Millionaire Ellen Curry”), Bat Masterson (“The Treasure of Worry Hill”) and Man with a Camera (“Two Strings of Pearls”). Her next film, the post–Civil War Western Lone Texan (1959), starred Willard Parker as Clint Banister, who returns to his Texas hometown and is considered a turncoat because he served in the Union Army. He finds the town overrun by lawlessness—overseen by his own brother, Greg (Grant Williams). Dalton has one of her best roles as a feisty gal who doesn’t know how she feels about Clint’s return. Her part is more energetic than usual as she stands up to the bad guys, slaps them and fights one of them off when he attempts to rape her. When her father is gunned down, Dalton takes matters (and a pistol) into her own hands and confronts his killer.

Back in the old sod, Ardmore Studios in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland, opened in April 1958, founded by Audrey’s father Emmet Dalton; Emmet and Louis Elliman then became its managing directors. Among the movies shot or partially shot at Ardmore: Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), Dementia 13 (1963), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), The Lion in Winter (1968)—and the Audrey Dalton–starring This Other Eden (1959). Produced by Emmet, the movie tells of a statue of a local IRA hero, Jack Carberry, being erected in the Irish village of Ballymorgan. The residents pretend Carberry was a saint, but know differently. Conor Heaphy (Norman Rodway), who wants to become a priest, learns that he is Carberry’s illegitimate son and, angered by the hypocritical lies told about Carberry, blows up the statue. Audrey plays his friend Maire McRoarty, who is the object of Crispin Brown’s (Leslie Phillips) affection. Nine days of location shooting took place in the County Wicklow and Dublin areas.

“The idea behind it was to showcase the Abbey Players,” Audrey told interviewer Jim Rosin. “[My father] wanted to make a film of the play This Other Eden and he asked if I would star in it. So I went back and co-starred with Leslie Phillips, Milo O’Shea and members of the Abbey Players. Much of the crew that worked on the film were Irish who had been doing films in England. They were delighted to return home. So was I. It was a wonderful experience. I brought my three children and was able to visit with family and friends.”

As for Ardmore Studios, Audrey told Tom Weaver, “I know it went through hard times a couple of times. In Britain, J. Arthur Rank had a monopoly on distribution, Rank owned all the British theaters and would only release his own productions. Other producers could make films but then have no theaters to release them to. The fight went on for years. Rank eventually lost the fight, but too late for my dad.”

Dalton finished off 1959 with guest shots on Disneyland (“The Griswold Murder”), Wagon Train (“The Jose Maria Moran Story”) and Bat Masterson (“To the Manner Born”). Her TV activity picked up in the early 1960s as she guested on King of Diamonds (an episode partially shot in Paris and London), Dante, The Aquanauts, The Tab Hunter Show, Acapulco, National Velvet, Lock Up, Michael Shayne, Bringing Up Buddy, Whispering Smith, The Investigators, Perry Mason, Checkmate, Bonanza (one of her favorites, as she played a bad girl), Kraft Mystery Theater (as a secretary who schemes with her boss Louis Hayward to kill his wife, Signe Hasso—who is plotting to kill him!), Ripcord, Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, Wide Country, The Dakotas, Temple Houston, Dr. Kildare and I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster. During this TV whirlwind, Dalton was seen frequently on Wagon Train—six episodes between 1958 and 1964.

“I used to do one every season, and one season they even squeezed me into two. There was that [rule] that you couldn’t do two in the same season, because people were going to confuse you with your other role. Ward Bond liked me—I mean, in the nicest way. It was because I was Irish. He had this thing about Ireland.

Thriller was the same thing as Wagon Train, I kept getting invited back. When they liked you on a series, you’d get invited back. It was like a stock company, and every year you’d come back. Alan Caillou, Abraham Sofaer, a whole bunch of people would keep showing up on Thriller, and you’d renew acquaintance and get to work together again.”

Dalton recalled the Boris Karloff-hosted horror anthology series Thriller as “a great show” that provided her with some of her best parts. Her first, Season 1’s “The Prediction,” was also Karloff’s first as a cast member in the story itself; he was a stage mentalist who suddenly does have second sight, she was his daughter. Just ten episodes later, in “Hay-Fork and Bill-Hook,” she was the one with second sight: Playing the wife of a Scotland Yard detective, she has inexplicable “visions” in a Welsh village steeped in witchcraft. In Season 2, Dalton excelled at cold-bloodedness in “The Hollow Watcher,” a one-of-a-kind mix of murder drama, sexual tension and backwoods horror, set in a North Carolina hamlet whose folklore includes an avenging, demon-possessed scarecrow. Dalton, the Irish mail order bride of a local yokel (Warren Oates), is actually a money-mad colleen partnered with her real husband (Sean McClory) on a globe-trotting murder tour. Dalton recalled, “Oooh, that was grand! That was a little ‘different’ part for me, too, which was nice. Now and then I played [meanies] … but they were the exception. I was always the nice girl, the ingénue—which was fine, which was…the way I was [laughs]! So it was fun to have something with a little more meat to it, and to be given free rein. [Director William Claxton] let me run with it, which was fun. That hadn’t happened before.”

As if three Thrillers in 15 months wasn’t enough to please the Monster Kids in her fanbase, Dalton also joined the cast of the fright flick Mr. Sardonicus (1961). Nineteenth-century Europe was the backdrop for this bleak horror tale, with Guy Rolfe as a farmer without a farthing, reduced to digging up his father’s coffin to retrieve a winning lottery ticket accidentally buried within. The sight of Dad’s skeletal face is so shocking that the farmer’s own face takes on the same lip-less, toothy grin. Now wealthy enough to re-dub himself “Baron Sardonicus,” he forces Dalton to marry him in order to compel her former beau, London physician Ronald Lewis, to find a medical means of restoring his good looks. Horror producer-showman-huckster William Castle’s gimmick for this production: Just minutes from the end, Castle (playing himself) asks audience members if Sardonicus should receive mercy or no mercy. This of course gave viewers the idea that the theater projectionist had two different finales and would then project the chosen one; but Castle knew that every audience would vote to give Sardonicus the works, and therefore a “mercy” ending was never filmed!

“Every time my acting career seems to be on the way up, I have another baby,” Dalton remarked in 1962. By this time, she had four, Tara (born 1953), Victoria (1955), James (1957) and Richard (1959). In her 2016 interview with Nick Thomas, she said with a chuckle, “What’s interesting is that many websites today have given me a fifth child! He even has a birth date and a name—Adrian. Needless to say, my children have made great fun of it and ask why I never told them about their lost brother!”

Dalton made her last two films in the mid–1960s. For Kitten with a Whip (1964), she phoned in her performance—literally! In her one scene, she phones her husband (John Forsythe) at their home and tells him she will return the next day, unaware that he has entangled himself with bad girl Ann-Margret.

Much better was the Western The Bounty Killer (1965). Filmed in only ten days on a low budget, it featured a wonderfully warm-hearted Dalton as saloon girl Carole Ridgeway—who sings “Go Away Old Man and Leave Me Alone,” dubbed by Harlene Stein. (Dalton wants Bounty Killer fans to know that she was directed to pretend-sing it at an “agonizingly slow pace”!) She falls for the naïve Willie Duggan (Dan Duryea) and they plan a future together. But, when Willie’s friend (Fuzzy Knight) is slain, the lust for vengeance makes Willie a killer. The Bounty Killer received notice for the small role played by Western pioneer G.M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson (his last film), but for Dalton fans it contains one of her most heartfelt performances. Audrey recalled with a laugh that producer Alex Gordon “made me feel like a star—even though I was over the hill by the time I did that.”

Then, it was back to TV in episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Laredo, The Big Valley, Insight, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Dragnet 1967 and Family Affair plus the telefilm Me and Benjy (1967). She remembered her Wild Wild West (“The Night of the Golden Cobra,” in which she plays maharajah Boris Karloff’s daughter) as “great because I got to walk two cheetahs on a leash! That was fun, and so were the exotic costumes.” She ended her acting career with a trio of Police Woman episodes in 1974, 1975 and ’78.

After 24 years together, Audrey and James Brown divorced in July 1977. On July 20, 1979, she wed an aerospace engineer, and that union continues to this day. She is popular as a guest at nostalgia conventions and autograph shows. Asked why she drifted away from acting, Dalton replied, “It sort of drifted away from me. It happens. You have to really have staying power, and I didn’t, I guess. I was involved with family, and I just let it drift. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t. But I did. One goes on.”

As for life today (2021), she enthuses, “I love being on the ocean and have sailed for over 50 years. Racing boats with my husband is one of my great pleasures. I have been so fortunate, all my life, to be able to continue on. Wherever ‘on’ takes me

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