Carol Lynley, blond beauty and star of ‘Poseidon Adventure’ and ‘Bunny Lake Is Missing,' dead at 77
Actress Carol Lynley, who worked alongside the likes of Laurence Olivier, Gene Hackman and Kirk Douglas during a remarkable five-decade career, has died of a heart attack.
The Manhattan-born star of “Harlow” and “Under the Yum Yum Tree” was 77 when she passed away Tuesday at her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., according to her friend Trent Dolan.
Lynley made her feature film debut in the 1958 Disney historical drama “The Light in the Forest.” Before snagging her big break as bad girl Allison McKenzie — a role originated by Diane Varsi — in 1961's “Return to Peyton Place,” she co-starred with Brandon deWilde in the 1959 drama “Blue Denim,” as a pregnant teen seeking an illegal abortion.
Also in 1961, she played Douglas’ potential love interest in the Robert Aldrich-directed western “The Last Sunset.”
After leading roles in the 1963 films “Under the Yum Yum Tree,” which co-starred Jack Lemmon, and the Otto Preminger-directed drama “The Cardinal,” she assumed the role of gaslighted single mom Ann Lake trusting Olivier to help find her missing daughter in the 1965 psychological thriller “Bunny Lake Is Missing.”
Lynley’s career peaked in 1972, when she landed the role of doomed cruise ship singer Nonnie Parry in “The Poseidon Adventure.” The star-studded 1972 thriller, which featured five previous Academy Award winners — Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters and Jack Albertson — was the top-grossing film of the year, according to The Numbers.
In an interview after “Poseidon’s” release, Lynley recalled the tricky perils of the daunting film set.
“There were no safety precautions for the first two weeks of shooting," she said of working on “The Poseidon Adventure” with no stunt actors. “I’d be up there on a catwalk, and if I slipped, it was six stories straight down through flames to a concrete floor. When we look scared, it’s real.”
Lynley’s character is shown singing the now-classic tune “The Morning After,” although her voice was actually dubbed by vocal double Renee Armand. The composition won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Song — the only Oscar the film took home from its eight nominations; although, it did win a special achievement award for Best Visual Effects.
“She was curious about the world around her, loved to spend time with interesting people, of all stripes and was generally a very peaceful person,” Lynley’s daughter Jill Selsman told People of her mother. “Very live and let live.”