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Vera Miles

Vera Miles

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Also Known As: Vera May Ralston Died:
Born: August 23, 1929 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Boise City, Oklahoma, USA Profession: actor, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A warm, reliable and likable lead of features and TV beginning in the 1950s, Vera Miles got a prominent start but rarely seemed to get the roles her talent merited. An attractive, composed woman who worked as a model after placing third in the 1948 Miss America contest, she broke into films in 1951. Although her first leads were in modest films, her earnest, outdoorsy heroines suited her well for "The Rose Bowl Story" (1952) and Jacques Tourneur's stylish "Wichita" (1955). She also kept busy in TV anthologies, where she first worked with the directors who helmed her most important films. John Ford directed Miles in "Rookie of the Year" (1955), an episode of "Screen Directors Playhouse" which led him to cast her as an outspoken frontierswoman in his classic "The Searchers" (1956). Hitchcock, meanwhile, liked her work in "Revenge" (1955) on his "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" so much that he put her under personal contract.Hitchcock obviously saw in Miles a gift for quietly expressing maturity coping with great tension, beautifully registered in his "The Wrong Man" (1957). As a wife who slowly cracks under the strain as her innocent husband (Henry Fonda) is imprisoned for armed robbery, Miles gave the...

A warm, reliable and likable lead of features and TV beginning in the 1950s, Vera Miles got a prominent start but rarely seemed to get the roles her talent merited. An attractive, composed woman who worked as a model after placing third in the 1948 Miss America contest, she broke into films in 1951. Although her first leads were in modest films, her earnest, outdoorsy heroines suited her well for "The Rose Bowl Story" (1952) and Jacques Tourneur's stylish "Wichita" (1955). She also kept busy in TV anthologies, where she first worked with the directors who helmed her most important films. John Ford directed Miles in "Rookie of the Year" (1955), an episode of "Screen Directors Playhouse" which led him to cast her as an outspoken frontierswoman in his classic "The Searchers" (1956). Hitchcock, meanwhile, liked her work in "Revenge" (1955) on his "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" so much that he put her under personal contract.

Hitchcock obviously saw in Miles a gift for quietly expressing maturity coping with great tension, beautifully registered in his "The Wrong Man" (1957). As a wife who slowly cracks under the strain as her innocent husband (Henry Fonda) is imprisoned for armed robbery, Miles gave the film's finest performance, and her stardom seemed set. She occasionally played second lead to a bigger star (Joan Crawford in "Autumn Leaves" 1956, Susan Hayward in "Back Street" 1961), but she more than held her own opposite imposing male stars Van Johnson ("23 Paces to Baker Street" 1956) and James Stewart ("The FBI Story" 1959).

Attempting to mold Miles to his classic icy blonde prototype, Hitchcock then cast her in "Vertigo" (1958), but she became pregnant and lost the choice role to Kim Novak. She did later star as the woman who initiates the search for her missing sister (Janet Leigh) in Hitchcock's landmark "Psycho" (1960). It gradually became clear, though, that Miles, whose persona seemed practical rather than glamorous, energetic rather than sparkling, was a fine, low-key actor perhaps more than she was a flashy movie star ready to be molded by a Svengali.

Though she acted less often and in smaller films, Miles continued playing leads into the 80s, a standout being Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962). Beginning with "A Tiger Walks" and "Those Calloways" (both 1964), Miles made six films for Disney Studios over the next eight years, typically as helpful wives ("Follow Me, Boys!" 1966) or self-sufficient widows ("The Castaway Cowboy" 1974). Leads ("Run for the Roses" 1978) then alternated with key supporting roles, the best being her reprisal of her Lila, now considerably embittered, for the remarkably good sequel, "Psycho II" (1983). TV on the whole did better by Miles, from her steely would-be murderess in the experimental "The Forms of Things Unknown" (1964), a famous installment of "The Outer Limits"; to her gritty roles in the TV-movies "And I Alone Survived" (1978) and "Helen Keller--The Miracle Continues" (1984). Divorced from Tarzan actor Gordon Scott and actor/director Keith Larsen.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Separate Lives (1995) Doctor Ruth Goldin
2.
 Hijacking Of The Achille Lauro (1989) Sophie Kubacki
3.
 Into The Night (1985) Joan Caper
4.
 International Airport (1985) Elaine Corley
5.
 Psycho II (1983) Lila Loomis
6.
 Initiation, The (1983) Frances Fairchild
7.
 Travis Mcgee: Empty Copper Sea (1983) Julie Lawless
8.
 BrainWaves (1982) Marian
9.
 Rona Jaffe's Mazes and Monsters (1982) Cat--Robbie'S Mom
10.
 Our Family Business (1981) Patricia
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1948:
Won third place in the Miss America Pageant
:
Worked as a model for a time after her beauty contest success
1951:
Film debut in "Two Tickets to Broadway"
1952:
Played first female lead in films in the sports picture, "The Rose Bowl Story", a low-budgeter made by Monogram Pictures
1955:
First worked with Alfred Hitchcock on an episode of the TV anthology series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" entitled "Revenge", which he also directed
1955:
First worked with John Ford on an episode of the TV anthology series, "Screen Directors Playhouse" entitled "Rookie of the Year", which he directed
1956:
Put under personal contract to Alfred Hitchcock; made a first film with him, "The Wrong Man", in which she starred opposite Henry Fonda
1958:
Was cast in Hitchcock's "Vertigo" but had to withdraw due to pregnancy
1959:
First non-US feature film, the British-made "Beyond This Place" (US release title "Web of Evidence"), in which she co-starred opposite Van Johnson
1959:
Was a panel regular on the TV quiz show, "Stump the Stars"
1960:
Last feature with Hitchcock, "Psycho"
1962:
Second and last feature directed by Ford, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"
1964:
Played female lead in "A Tiger Walks", the first of six Disney films she made over the next eight years, and the first of three directed by Norman Tokar; starred opposite Brian Keith in the first two films
1964:
First TV-movie, "The Hanged Man"
1964:
Starred with Barbara Rush, David McCallum and Cedric Hardwicke in "The Forms of Things Unknown", an episode of the cult sci-fi series, "The Outer Limits", also intended as a pilot for a spinoff program, "The Unknown"; the show's producers became embroiled in conflict with ABC and the new series never materialized
1967:
Played female lead of Ellen Wedloe in the TV pilot for the CBS adventure series, "Gentle Ben", opposite Dennis Weaver; role was taken by Beth Brickell, however, when it became a series
1974:
Last of six films for Walt Disney in which she had the female lead, "The Castaway Cowby", co-starring James Garner
1980:
First TV miniseries, "Roughnecks"
1989:
Played a leading role in the stage play, "The Immigrant: A Hamilton County Album", presented at the LaMirada Civic Theater in California
1991:
Played role of Nancy Landon on several episodes of the long-running CBS mystery series, "Murder, She Wrote"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"Physically she had the makings of his favourite cool blonde type, and he (Alfred Hitchcock) thought he could manoeuvre her into it. He set to work to mould her career, choose her other roles for her, give her an image by selecting the colours she should wear and the way her hair should be styled. But he came up against a problem he had not anticipated: she was an excellent actress--better, probably, than some of the others he had given the same treatment to--and she looked more or less right, but temperamentally she was all wrong. On screen she came over as strong, practical, earthy. Not ethereal at all, not cool and mysterious. Nor, perhaps, the material really big, big stars are made of." --John Russell Taylor ("Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock" 1978)

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Robert Miles. Stuntman. Married 1949-54.
husband:
Gordon Scott. Actor. Married 1956, divorced 1959; second husband; acted together in the feature, "Tarzan's Hidden Jungle" (1954).
husband:
Keith Larsen. Actor, director. Married 1960, divorced; third husband; acted together in "The Rose Bowl Story" (1952), "Wichita" (1955) and "Mission Batangas" (1969), the last of which was also directed by Larsen.
husband:
Bob Jones. Married 1973.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Thomas Ralston.
mother:
Burnice Ralston.
daughter:
Deborah Miles. Born 1950; father Robert Miles.
daughter:
Kelly Miles. Born 1952; father Robert Miles.
son:
Michael Scott. Born c. 1958; father Gordon Scott.
son:
Erik Larsen. Father Keith Larsen.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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