Vera Miles was born Vera June Ralston in Boise, City Oklahoma on August 23, 1929, to Thomas and Bernice Ralston. She had three older brothers.
Vera grew up first in Pratt, Kansas, but her family later moved to Wichita where she got a job working nights as a Western Union operator. She graduated from Wichita North High School in 1947. She was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948 and went on to become the third runner-up in the Miss America pageant.
While she was a contestant in said pageant, she was signed to a contract with RKO studios and went off to Hollywood to start her new career as an actress. In Los Angeles. Vera met Howard Hughes who instructed her to go take acting classes.
A man who worked for Mr. Hughes, Bob Miles, picked her up every morning to take her to her classes and soon enough they started dating. Less than a year later, Vera and Bob were married.
Becoming Tarzan’s Wife
Pretty much immediately after arriving in LA and taking acting classes per Howard Hughes’s instruction, Vera chose to take Bob’s last name of Miles because an active film actress already went by the name Vera Ralston. Vera soon started landing minor roles in television and film, including a small uncredited role as a chorus girl in 1951s Two Tickets to Broadway, a musical starring Janet Leigh, whom Vera would later co-star with nine years later in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film Psycho.
By 1952, Vera started getting better film roles. One of her first credited roles was in 1952s The Rose Bowl Story. Just two years later after landing that part, she separated from Bob Miles and filed for divorce. In 1955, Vera was cast alongside Gordon Scott in the film Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, where she played the wild jungle man’s love interest. She ended up marrying Scott in 1956 and they remained married until 1960.
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And don’t you dare think about sneaking off so soon. Stick around to find out what Vera Miles is up to these days, but first, let’s take a look at some of her most notable film and television roles.
Vera’s Work With Hitchcock
1956 was a big year for Vera Miles for more reasons than one. Not only was that the year that she got married for the second time, but it also marked another major milestone for her life and career. That was when she starred in 1956s The Searchers, a John Wayne Western that is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made. In fact, it was named the greatest American Western by the American Film Institute in 2008.
In that film, she portrayed the character Laurie Jorgenson, Jeffrey Hunter’s love interest. In addition to starring in such a monumental film, Vera also appeared in Wichita, 23 Paces to Baker Street, and The Wrong Man opposite Henry Fonda.
In The Wrong Man, a noir film directed by the late-great Alfred Hitchcock, she was given the part of Rose Balestrero, the wife of Manny Baelstrero, portrayed by Fonda. This intense film which was based on the true story of a man who was wrongfully convicted of a crime was Hitchcock’s one and only movie based upon a true story.
But this was not the first time that Hitchcock had worked with Miles. She had previously played the part of a new bride in the pilot episode of the popular anthology television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
The Role That Vera Was Known For
In 1957, Ms. Miles signed a personal contract with Alfred Hitchcock and was reported to be Hitchcock’s successor to Grace Kelly. Hitchcock had actually envisioned Miles in the leading role in his 1958 film Vertigo, but when she got pregnant, the role instead went to Kim Novak. He next cast Mile in the role of Lila Crane in 1960s Psycho.
In that iconic horror film, Vera played the sister of Marion Crane, the woman who was viciously killed in that infamous shower scene. This became the role that Miles was arguably best known for, but it wouldn’t be the last time that she would work with Hitchcock, even though she had told him back in 1960 that she wouldn’t appear in the four pictures that she was still contractually obligated to appear in their seven-year contract.
After Psycho, Vera appeared in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1962 and 1965. 23 years after the original film, Miles reprised her role of Lila Crane in 1983s Psycho II.
Reunited With John Wayne Once More
In 1962, Vera starred in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with her old co-star John Wayne as well James Stewart. Hallie Stoddard, the character she portrayed in that film, was being pursued by two men who were both competing for her hand in marriage. She appeared alongside John Wayne again in several scenes in the film The Green Berets which hit theaters in 1968, but unfortunately, her scenes were omitted from the final cut of the film. Later that same year she starred opposite John Wayne once more in the film Hellfighters. Another notable credit from that era was in the 1966 Walt Disney motion picture Follow Me, Boys!
Vera’s Television Career And Retirement From Acting
Vera Miles had many television appearances throughout her prestigious acting career including Gunsmoke, Laramie, Wagon Train, and The Twilight Zone. She co-starred in the pilot episode of The Fugitive as well as the first episode of the series I Spy. Miles also enjoyed a supporting role in three episodes of the iconic sitcom My Three Sons.
She continued to appear in television series throughout the 80s. During that decade, Vera landed roles in shows like The Love Boat and Murder She Wrote in addition to several made-for-TV movies. But her acting career wasn’t strictly limited to television roles during the 80s. She made several film appearances in films like The Initiation in 1984 and 1985s Into The Night. Her last film role was alongside James Belushi in 1995s Separate Lives. After production wrapped up on that film, she retired in Palm Desert, California. She never remarried after her divorce from her fourth husband, Robert Jones, whom she married in 1973. They divorced just two years later in 1975.
Jessica Biel played Vera Miles in the 2012 biopic film Hitchcock, but she didn’t get a chance to meet her in person to prepare for the role as Vera is a very private, reclusive person. Instead, Biel talked with her grandson to gain a little bit of insight into what she was like when Psycho was filmed.
What Vera Miles Is Up To These Days
Like we already mentioned just a moment ago, Vera Miles isn’t really that interested in being in the spotlight these days. Those times are long behind her, and at 91, she’s earned the right to a little bit of privacy. She refuses to do interviews and rarely if ever, makes any kind of public appearances. But to be fair, who wouldn’t do the same after having such an incredible career constantly in the public eye. Although she doesn’t want anything to do with the press or media, she is still very appreciative of her fans who hold her in high regard. Vera frequently responds to correspondence via mail and that’s enough for her at that this point in her life and all of us should respect that.
Vera is a registered Republican who supported Dwight Eisenhower’s re-election campaign during the 1956 presidential election. While she is presumably still a political conservative, she hasn’t endorsed any particular candidate since then.
Vera is also reportedly very religious and has been for the majority of her life. She is a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, is a member of the Hollywood California Stake and has been a frequent visitor to the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.
It seems very likely that Vera will continue to remain out of the public eye for the remainder of her life which makes a lot of sense considering how much of her life was documented, scrutinized, and dissected by the press in times past.
Palm Desert, which she currently resides, is a quiet little town in the Coachella Valley with a population of about 50,000. Sounds like a perfect place to privately spend the remainder of her days.
Well, that’s about all the time we’ve got left for this facts-packed episode. Vera Miles is a name that doesn’t come up that much anymore, but it really should. Her prolific film and television career was jam-packed full of hits and hidden gems. Really, the world of cinema would look a lot different today if she hadn’t pursued a career as an actress. Can you imagine if films like The Searchers or Psycho had never been produced?
Anyway, now’s your turn to let your voice be heard. In the comments section below, tell us what your favorite role of Vera Miles was? Honestly, we’re a bit partial to her iconic portrayal of Lila Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho, but maybe you preferred her part as Madelyn Buckman in Hellfighters. Either way, take a moment to let us know.
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