Actress Patricia Morison, who brought a touch of grace and style to even her anti-heroine film roles, has died at age 103. She passed at her Los Angeles home of natural causes.
Morison had a huge presence in films of the 1940s, and appeared in such classics as Song of Bernadette and Dressed To Kill opposite such stars as Basil Rathbone, Ray Milland, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, among many others.
Sporting long, flowing hair down to her hips, Morison often was portrayed as the villain in her many roles.
She also had an extensive Broadway career, appearing in the first staging of Kiss Me, Kate (based on a production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew) and with Yul Brynner in The King and I.
Morison was born in 1915 in New York and took acting classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse, studied dance with Martha Graham, and made her Broadway debut at age 18 in the 1933 comedy Growing Pains. Her big break came in 1938, when she starred in the operetta The Two Bouquets opposite Leo G. Carroll and future Kiss Me, Kate co-star Fred Drake. Paramount came calling and signed her to a contract while naming her “The Fire and Ice Girl.” She made her film debut in Persons in Hiding (1939).
Her other films included Night in New Orleans (1942), Lady on a Train (1945), Song of the Thin Man(1947), Queen of the Amazons (1947), Tarzan and the Huntress (1947), Song Without End (1960) and Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976).
When Tony-winning actress Gertrude Lawrence died of liver cancer just months into the original Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, Morison stepped in to play widowed British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens opposite Brynner. She also toured with him in a road production, all the while refusing his advances (“he was a naughty boy”).
She concluded her long show business career with an appearance on a 1989 episode of Cheers.
Morison celebrated her turning 100 in 2015 with a private party at the Pantages Theatre and an event at the Pasadena Playhouse.
No details on survivors or a memorial service have been released.