Peggy Cummins, one of Hollywood’s most unforgettable film noire molls for her role in 1950’s Gun Crazy, died following a stroke in London Friday. She was 92.
Her death was confirmed to the Associated Press by her friend Dee Kirkwood.
Cummins, born in Wales and an actress since childhood, had appeared in a string of modestly budgeted films (1943’s Old Mother Riley Detective, 1949’s If This Be Sin) when she was cast as the seductress carny Annie Laurie Starr in director Joseph H. Lewis’ crime melodrama Gun Crazy opposite John Dall.
Like Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker in the next decade, Cummins’ Annie is both a muse and partner to her criminal beau – just as Cummins was an inspiration for later generations of cinematic molls. Her beret in Gun Crazy would become an international fashion statement when Dunaway adopted the look for 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde.
The Gun Crazy screenplay was credited to MacKinlay Kantor, though the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo was a secret co-writer. The film, though dismissed as B-movie fodder, at best, upon release, became a favorite of the French New Wave directors, and has remained a cult treasure ever since.
Her other notable film was Jacques Tourneur’s 1957 British horror cult classic Night of the Demon (aka Curse of the Demon). Her final film before retirement from acting was 1962’s In the Doghouse.
Cummins’ husband, William Herbert Derek Dunnett, died in 2000. They had two children, who survive her. Details on additional survivors and memorial plans were not immediately available.