Margia Dean, who starred in the cult sci-fi classic The Quatermass Experiment and appeared alongside Clint Eastwood, Vincent Price, Esther Williams and George Reeves in other films, has passed away. She turned 101.
Dean died June 23 at her Rancho Cucamonga, California, apartment, her cousin Denyse Barr told The Hollywood Reporter.
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From 1948-56, Dean worked in about 20 feature films for producer Robert L. Lippert, founder of the Lippert Pictures B-movie studio, earning him the nickname “The Queen of Lippert”.
She starred for Sam Fuller in two of those movies, the first two feature films he ever directed, in fact — i Shot at Jesse James (1949), in which she played a saloon singer, and the Price lead The Baron of Arizona (1950).
Based on a popular BBC series, Hammer Films’ The Quatermass Experiment (1956), directed by Val Guest and starring Brian Donlevy, told the story of an astronaut (Richard Wordsworth) who crash lands on Earth and transforms into an alien organism that threatens humanity.
Dean played the astronaut’s wife, who foolishly helps him escape a hospital. “It drives me crazy,” she wrote in a Western clippings interview.
Dean also performed with Richard Arlen Grand Canyon (1949), with Reeves in it Superman and the mole men (1951), with Charles Chaplin Jr. in Canines of the Wilderness (1954), with Eastwood in it Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958), with Brian Keith in it Villa!! (1958) and with Williams in the circus set The big show (1961).
She appeared in some 60 films during her two-decade career.
Marguerite Louise Skliris, with family roots in Greece, was born in Chicago on April 7, 1922 and grew up in San Francisco. Her father, Evangelis, was a lawyer.
After performing on stage as a child, she won a Women’s National Shakespeare Contest and Miss San Francisco and Miss California titles at age 15 before entering the 1939 Miss America award, placing first runner-up in Patricia Donnelly.
“I won the talent show in that pageant doing Shakespeare when I should have been singing! I have a torchy kind of voice,” she said. “After I lost to Donnelly, I was told that singing would have been better – because berating Shakespeare was not something a Miss America could do across the country.”
She returned to San Francisco to graduate from Galileo High School, performed at the Biltmore Theater in downtown Los Angeles, and made her film debut in Republic Pictures’ Casanova in burlesque (1944), starring Joe E. Brown and June Havoc.
Her first major role came in the sequel Shep comes home (1948), financed by Lippert. They later became involved, she explained in Mark Thomas McGee’s 2014 book: Talk is cheap, action is expensive: the films of Robert L. Lippert.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong. I was running around with a married man,” she recalled. “I don’t think I ever loved him, but he was crazy about me. He gave me all this work and he was pleasant to deal with. He made it easy for me.”
Her CV is also included Red desert (1949), First rank (1949), FBI girl (1951), The lonely track (1955), Raoul Walshs Mamie Stover’s Rebellion (1956), The secret of the purple reef (1960), 7 women from hell (1961) and Moro witch doctor (1964), her last acting credit.
Dean was also a producer on The long rope (1961), starring Hugh Marlow, ed The horror of it all (1964), starring Pat Boone. After that, she was a vice president at a real estate/construction company and owned a clothing store in Brentwood and a coffee shop in Beverly Hills.
Dean lived in a home in the Hollywood Hills for six decades before moving to Dana Point, California. “She was a remarkable, brilliant and generous lady with exquisite taste,” said her niece.
Survivors include her husband, Spanish architect, author and singer Felipe Alvarez, 92, whom she met at a café on the Sunset Strip and married in Mexico in August 1965 (hear him sing to her here); nieces Denyse, Christina, Lisette, Irene and Olga; and cousins José, Richard and Miguel.
Dean’s first husband was Hal Fischer, a standout basketball player and coach. After their six-year marriage ended in 1945, she dated Prince Aly Khan, the third husband of actress Rita Hayworth.
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