Carol Lynley, is famous for her roles in films such as 1959s Blue Denim and 1972s The Poseidon Adventure. A blond-haired, blue-eyed actress and former child model who boasts an amount of star power in the 1960s in particular.
Sadly, she passed away back in 2019 after suffering a heart attack at her Pacific Palisades home in Los Angeles. Though she’s no longer with us, she lives for 77 years and she leaves her mark on the entertainment industry.
Perhaps you’re not familiar with those two films we mention. Maybe you recall her appearing in those and other offerings but are curious about her career. At a certain point, it seems like Lynley falls off the face of the earth. Join FactsVerse as we take a look back on Carol Lynley’s life and career while revealing what causes her once-thriving career to all but fizzle out.
Lynley Was A Child Model
Carol was born in Manhattan, New York, on February 13, 1942, to parents Frances and Cyril Jones. Her father was of Irish ancestry, while her mother’s side of the family was English, Scottish, Welsh, and German.
Lynley took up dance as a child and always had an appreciation for theater. She learned ballet at the age of seven and became a reasonably successful model by the time she was ten.
When she is still a child, her parents divorced. Carol’s mother works as a waitress up until Lynley, as a model is enough to support them. To earn a little extra cash, Lynley, as a teen, works for a Sears & Roebuck department store. When she recognizes as the ‘the Coca-Cola Girl’ she no longer needs to work other jobs to get by.
Carol originally, Carole Ann Jones, discovers another person by that same name. Seven years her elder, acting under that name, she adopts the name Carol Lynley to set herself apart.
Lynley first appeared on local TV when she was 14. She made subsequent appearances on live national programs such as The Goodyear Television Playhouse, Danger Route, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
In 1957, at age 15, Lynley appears on the cover of Life magazine as “Carol Lynley, 15, Busy Career Girl”.
Throughout her teenage years, Lynley made appearances in several Pepsodent and Clairol commercials and advertisements that received national attention. In 1955, Carol made her first appearance on the Broadway stage in a production of Moss Hart’s Anniversary Waltz. She went on to play the role of Dame Sybil Thorndyke’s granddaughter in the Broadway production, The Potting Shed.
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Lynley’s Jump To Film
Early in her career, Lynley departs from other actresses by appearing in both the Broadway and Hollywood screen adaptations. In the controversial coming-of-age drama Blue Denim, in which she and her co-star Brandon deWilde deals with the repercussions. The unwanted pregnancy and subsequently opting for a risky and illegal abortion.
In the production, she wins the Theater World Award, the most promising new star of the 1956-67 Broadway Season. That accolade helped her land a seven-year contract with 20th-Century Fox.
Carol Lynley’s film career began in 1958 when she appeared in the Disney feature The Light in the Forest. A year later, she appeared in Holiday for Lovers. Lynley nominates for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer in the female category in 1959.
In 1960, she once again received a Golden Globe nod for Most Promising Newcomer for her performance in Blue Denim. That same year, she marries her publicist Michael Selsman. That marriage produced one child, a daughter named Jill Selsman, who would later direct short films. Lynley and Selsman would divorce four years later, in 1964.
A couple of other 20th-Century productions that Lynley appeared in include 1959s Return to Peyton Place and 1963s The Stripper. The former headline, the burgeoning actress as a best-selling novelist who ends up divulging a towns darkest scandals and secrets.
Lynley features in many 1960s films, oftentimes portraying a ‘girl next door’ type. Aside from Return to Peyton Place, she is famous for appearing in films such as Under the Yum Yum Tree, Bunny Lake is Missing, The Pleasure Seekers, and The Cardinal.
In 1965, Lynley posed nude for the March issue of Playboy magazine. That same year she starred in a biopic film of the 1930s Hollywood sexpot Jean Harlow in its titular role. The quality of her movies begins to hit after the mid-1960s. She appears in several warmly-receive B-films such as 1967s The Shuttered Room and 1969s Once You Kiss a Stranger.
In 1972 she appeared Irwin Allan’s The Poseidon Adventure, which saw her lip-syncing the Oscar Award-winning song “The Morning After”. In that film, she portrayed one of the ill-fated passengers who ended up getting thrown in Davy Jones’ Locker. Variety praised her performance in that film and called it ‘especially effective’.
Aside from The Poseidon Adventure, from 1967 onward, Lynley appears in television offerings. It includes guest-starring spots in shows such as Mannix, The Invaders, Hawaii Five-O. Also, a pilot for a 1972 show calls Kolchak: The Night Stalker in which she plays Carl Kolchak’s girlfriend.
Other notable credits from this era include turn on The Man from UNCLE, It Takes a Thief, Night Gallery, Hart to Hart, and Charlie’s Angels.
Lynley’s Career Continued To Decline
Carol’s career began to decline in the late 60s and early 70s. Around this time, she not only appeared in those B-films we already discussed, but she also took roles in other low-budget productions such as The Maltese Bippy, The Four Deuces, Norwood, Bad Georgia Road, and The Washington Affair.
The 80s were a particularly inactive decade for her acting career, but in 1992 she acted in the low-budget thriller Spirits, in which she played a nun. In 1997, she appeared in the movie Flypaper, and two years later, she starred in another low-budget offering titled Drowning on Dry Land. While she at one point headlined big-screen blockbusters, most of the low-budget and critically panned films she appeared in during the later years of her acting career were straight-to-video productions.
In 2000, Lynley gave an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in which she discussed how difficult it was for a middle-aged actress such as herself to find roles. Although she was clearly feeling a bit dejected at that time, she made the prediction that she would have a career comeback in her old age.
She argued that she was still a very talented actress who had her ‘head screwed on straight’, wasn’t in rehab and still looked good for her gage.
While that prediction proved to never come to fruition, in 2003, she played a grandmother in a film called Light in the Forest, which was titled strikingly similar to the one that had launched her career, The Light in the Forest.
2006 she did appear in a 30-minute film titled VIC, which was co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage Stallone. After acting in that all-but-forgotten project, Carol Lynley retired from acting.
Lynley’s Death And Enduring Legacy
Lynley, at the age of 77, died of a heart attack on September 3, 2019 at her home in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles. Per her wishes, she was cremated, and her ashes were spread at sea off the coast of Southern California.
While she starred and co-starred in numerous hit films, Carol Lynley’s biggest claim to fame will likely be remembered as her role in 1972s The Poseidon Adventure. This adventure-disaster film featured an ensemble cast that included five Oscar winners, including Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters. It revolved around the tale of the fictional sea-faring vessel the SS Poseidon. The boat was an aging luxury cruise liner on her final voyage from New York City to Athens, after which it was scheduled to be scrapped.
On New Year’s Eve, the Poseidon got hit by a massive tsunami capsizing it in the process. Passengers and crew members were trapped inside as it sunk below the waters while a preacher attempted to lead a small band of survivors to safety.
The Poseidon Adventure went on to influence other disaster flicks of it’s era, including the two 1974 films Earthquake and The Towering Inferno. It theaters in December 1972, and in 1973, it was the highest-grossing film of the year, taking in $125 million worldwide.
It was honored with two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, A British Academy Film Award, and A Motion Picture Sound Editors Award. Carol Lynley portrayed the character Nonnie Parry but declined to appear in the 1979 sequel Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, which was universally panned by critics and flopped at the box office.
At the moment, Carol Lynley has yet to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but we think she definitely deserves one. Sure, she’s no Ava Gardner of Zsa Zsa Gabor, but she unquestionably proved to the world that she had some serious acting chops and looks to kill.
What’s your favorite Carol Lynley film? And do you think she’s received the credit she is due over the years? Let us know in the comments section down below.
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