Margia Dean, who co-starred in the cult sci-fi classic The Quatermass Xperiment and appeared alongside the likes of Clint Eastwood, Vincent Price, Esther Williams and George Reeves in other movies, has died. She was 101.
Dean died June 23 in her apartment in Rancho Cucamonga, California, her niece Denyse Barr told The Hollywood Reporter.
From 1948-56, Dean worked in about 20 features for producer Robert L. Lippert, founder of the B-movie studio Lippert Pictures, thus earning the nickname “The Queen of Lippert.”
She acted for Sam Fuller in two of those films, the first two features he ever directed, in fact — I Shot Jesse James (1949), in which she portrayed a saloon singer, and the Price-starring The Baron of Arizona (1950).
Based on a popular BBC serial, Hammer Films’ The Quatermass Xperiment (1956), directed by Val Guest and starring Brian Donlevy, told the story of an astronaut (Richard Wordsworth) who crash-lands back on Earth and morphs into an alien organism that threatens mankind.
Dean played the astronaut’s wife, who foolishly helps him break out of a hospital. “I go mad in it,” she noted in a Western Clippings interview.
Dean also acted with Richard Arlen in Grand Canyon (1949), with Reeves in Superman and the Mole Men (1951), with Charles Chaplin Jr. in Fangs of the Wild (1954), with Eastwood in Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958), with Brian Keith in Villa!! (1958) and with Williams in the circus-set The Big Show (1961).
She appeared in some 60 movies during her two-decade career.
With family roots in Greece, Marguerite Louise Skliris was born in Chicago on April 7, 1922, and raised in San Francisco. Her father, Evangelis, was a lawyer.
After acting on the stage as a kid, she won a Women’s National Shakespeare Contest at age 15 and Miss San Francisco and Miss California titles before competing for the 1939 Miss America prize, finishing first runner-up to Patricia Donnelly.
“I won the talent contest in that pageant by doing Shakespeare when I should have sung! I have a torchy kind of voice,” she said. “After I lost to Donnelly, I was told singing would have been better — as spouting Shakespeare wasn’t the type of thing a Miss America could go around the country doing.”
She returned to San Francisco to finish up at Galileo High School, acted at the Biltmore Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and made her big-screen debut in Republic Pictures’ Casanova in Burlesque (1944), starring Joe E. Brown and June Havoc.
Her first big role came in the sequel Shep Comes Home (1948), financed by Lippert. They later became involved with each other, she explained in Mark Thomas McGee’s 2014 book, Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive: The Films of Robert L. Lippert.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong. I was running around with a married man,” she recalled. “I don’t think I ever loved him, but he was crazy about me. He gave me all this work, and he was pleasant to be with. He made it easy for me.”
Her résumé also included Red Desert (1949), Ringside (1949), F.B.I. Girl (1951), The Lonesome Trail (1955), Raoul Walsh’s The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), The Secret of the Purple Reef (1960), 7 Women From Hell (1961) and Moro Witch Doctor (1964), her last acting credit.
Dean also was a producer on The Long Rope (1961), starring Hugh Marlow, and The Horror of It All (1964), starring Pat Boone. She then served as a vice president in a real estate/construction firm and owned a dress shop in Brentwood and a coffee shop in Beverly Hills.
Dean lived for six decades in a home in the Hollywood Hills before relocating to Dana Point, California. “She was a remarkable, brilliant and generous lady with exquisite taste,” her niece said.
Survivors include her husband, Spanish architect, author and singer Felipe Alvarez, 92, whom she met in a café on the Sunset Strip and married in Mexico in August 1965 (hear him sing to her here); nieces Denyse, Christina, Lisette, Irene and Olga; and nephews José, Richard and Miguel.
Dean’s first husband was Hal Fischer, a standout basketball player and coach. After their six-year marriage ended in 1945, she dated the prince Aly Khan, the third husband of actress Rita Hayworth.