Vera Miles

Vera Miles

Born: August 23, 1929
Age: 89
Birthplace: Boise City, Oklahoma, U.S.
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Biography

Vera June Miles (née Ralston, born August 23, 1929)[1][2] is a retired American actress who worked closely with Alfred Hitchcock, most notably as Lila Crane in the classic 1960 film Psycho, reprising the role in the 1983 sequel Psycho II. Other films in which she appeared include Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955), The Searchers (1956), Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (also 1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Follow Me, Boys! (1966), Sergeant Ryker (1968) and Molly and Lawless John (1972).

Vera June Ralston was born in Boise City, Oklahoma to Thomas and Bernice (née Wyrick) Ralston. She had three elder siblings.[3][4]

She grew up first in Pratt, Kansas, and later lived in Wichita, where she worked nights as a Western Union operator-typist and graduated from Wichita North High School in 1947. She was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948 and was the third runner-up in the Miss America contest. When she appeared as a contestant on the April 4, 1951, edition of the Groucho Marx quiz show You Bet Your Life described as "a beauty contest winner," Marx asked her about some of the titles she held. She replied, "I was first Miss Chamber of Commerce and then Miss Wichita and then Miss Kansas and Miss Texas Grapefruit and recently I've been chosen Miss New Maid Margarine and I had the honor to represent Kansas in the Miss America pageant."[citation needed]

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Career

Miles moved to Los Angeles in 1950 and landed small roles in television and film, including a minor role as a chorus girl in Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), a musical starring Janet Leigh, with whom Miles co-starred nine years later in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. She used her first husband's name, Miles, because there already was an active film actress who went by the name Vera Ralston. Miles eventually was put under contract at various studios. She once recalled, "I was dropped by the best studios in town."[3]

Miles' first credited film appearance was in The Rose Bowl Story (1952), a romantic comedy in which she played a Tournament of Roses queen.

While under contract to Warner Bros., Miles was cast alongside her future husband Gordon Scott in the 1955 film Tarzan's Hidden Jungle as Tarzan's love interest. The following year, she was cast by director John Ford as Jeffrey Hunter's love interest in the John Wayne western The Searchers (1956), and appeared in the movie 23 Paces to Baker Street with Van Johnson. Also in 1956, Miles starred as Rose Balestero, the fragile wife of Manny Balestero, a musician falsely accused of a crime played by Henry Fonda, in the film The Wrong Man. The movie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and is one of only a few Hitchcock films based on real-life events.

Signing a five-year personal contract with Hitchcock in 1957, Miles was widely publicized as the director's potential successor to Grace Kelly.[5] (Two years prior, Hitchcock had directed Miles in the role of Ralph Meeker's emotionally troubled new bride in "Revenge", the pilot episode of his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents).

Vertigo (1958), a project Hitchcock designed as a showcase for his new star, was met with production delays. Miles' subsequent pregnancy would cost her the lead role which eventually went to Kim Novak, with whom Hitchcock clashed.[citation needed] Vertigo (which also starred James Stewart) was not a financial or critical success at the time, with Hitchcock claiming that Novak was miscast. Despite Hitchcock's disappointment regarding Vertigo, he continued to work with Miles, eventually casting her in what is arguably the role for which she is most remembered, that of Lila Crane in Psycho. Miles would later appear in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (in 1962 and 1965).

In 1962, Miles reunited with director John Ford for the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Starring alongside her former co-star from The Searchers, John Wayne, she is pursued by both Wayne and James Stewart, two very different men competing for her hand in marriage (Stewart wins).

In addition to her film appearances, Miles was featured in many popular television shows throughout her career, including Wagon Train, Laramie,[6] The Twilight Zone and the western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds. She also co-starred in the first episode of ABC's The Fugitive (titled "Fear in a Desert City"), as well as guest-starring in episodes of The Outer Limits, Burke's Law, The Eleventh Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Ironside.[3]

In 1965, Miles had a supporting role in three episodes of the CBS series My Three Sons. The same year, she co-starred with lead actors Robert Culp and Bill Cosby in the pilot episode of the TV series I Spy entitled "Affair in T'Sien Cha" (although the pilot was not actually broadcast until midway through the series' first season).[3]

Other notable films in which Miles appeared included the Walt Disney film Follow Me, Boys! (1966) with Fred MacMurray, and Hellfighters (1968), reuniting again with John Wayne. Miles had also filmed scenes with Wayne for the movie The Green Berets (also 1968), playing Wayne's character's wife. However, with Warner Bros. wanting more action in the film, her scenes were cut.[7]

Miles continued to appear in numerous TV films and TV series during the 1970s, including the pilot for the TV series Cannon (broadcast in March 1971) as the wife of a deceased war comrade of private investigator Frank Cannon, played by William Conrad. She would guest star in a further two episodes of the series in different roles during its run. In 1973, she appeared alongside Peter Falk in "Lovely But Lethal", an episode of NBC's Columbo, playing a cosmetics queen who commits murder. She also made guest appearances in episodes of Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco and Fantasy Island amongst others.[3]

In 1983, more than 20 years after Psycho, Miles reprised the role of Lila Crane in Psycho II, joining Anthony Perkins in the sequel. Miles and Perkins were the only stars of the original film to appear in this second instalment. Miles would continue to appear in a number of TV and film productions during the 1980s, with appearances in the movies The Initiation (1984) and Into the Night (1985), and guest starring in episodes of the TV series The Love Boat (1982-1984) and Hotel (1984-1987). She also appeared alongside Angela Lansbury in the TV series Murder, She Wrote, guest starring in three episodes broadcast in 1985, 1990 and 1991 respectively. The 1991 episode, entitled "Thursday's Child", would mark her final television role. Miles would act just once more, appearing alongside James Belushi in the film Separate Lives (1995), before retiring from the industry.[3]

Personal life

Miles has been married four times. Her first husband was Bob Miles. They were married from 1948-1954, and had two daughters, Debra and Kelley. Her second husband was Gordon Scott, her co-star in Tarzan's Hidden Jungle. They were married from 1956-1960 and had one son, Michael. Her third husband was actor Keith Larsen (né Keith Larsen Burt). They were married from 1960-1971 and had one son, Erik.[3]

By sheer coincidence all three of Miles' ex-husbands died within a short timespan of each other. Her third husband, Keith Larsen died on December 13, 2006; first husband, stuntman and small-part actor Bob Miles died on April 12, 2007; and second husband, actor and bodybuilder Gordon Scott, died 18 days later on April 30, 2007. Miles had been married to her fourth husband, director Robert Jones, from 1973 until their divorce in 1975.

Miles is a Republican and she was supportive of Dwight Eisenhower's re-election campaign during the 1956 presidential election[8].

Miles lives in Palm Desert, California and does not grant interviews or make public appearances, although she is well known for corresponding with her fanbase. One of her grandsons, actor Jordan Essoe, met with actress Jessica Biel in 2012 in preparation for Biel's portrayal of Miles in the film Hitchcock.[9]

Filmography

Theatrical films

Year Title Role Notes
1950 When Willie Comes Marching Home Sergeant's date Uncredited
1951 Two Tickets to Broadway Showgirl Uncredited
1952 For Men Only Kathy
The Rose Bowl Story Denny Burke
1953 The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms Trailer Commentator Uncredited
The Charge at Feather River Jennie McKeever
So Big Schoolgirl Uncredited
1954 Pride of the Blue Grass Linda Alternative title: Prince of the Blue Grass
1955 Tarzan's Hidden Jungle Jill Hardy
Wichita Laurie McCoy
1956 The Searchers Laurie Jorgensen
23 Paces to Baker Street Jean Lennox
Autumn Leaves Virginia Hanson
The Wrong Man Rose Balestrero
1957 Beau James Betty Compton
1959 Web of Evidence Lena Anderson Alternative title: Beyond This Place
The FBI Story Lucy Ann Hardesty
A Touch of Larceny Virginia Killain
1960 Five Branded Women Daniza
Psycho Lila Crane
1961 The Lawbreakers Angela Walsh
Back Street Liz Saxon
1962 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Hallie Stoddard
1964 A Tiger Walks Dorothy Williams
1965 Those Calloways Liddy Calloway
1966 One of Our Spies Is Missing Madame Raine De Sala
Follow Me, Boys! Vida Downey
1967 The Spirit Is Willing Kate Powell
Gentle Giant Ellen Wedloe
1968 Sergeant Ryker Ann Ryker
Kona Coast Melissa Hyde
Mission Batangas Joan Barnes
Hellfighters Madelyn Buckman
1969 It Takes All Kinds Laura Ring
1970 The Wild Country Kate Tanner
1972 Molly and Lawless John Molly Parker
1973 One Little Indian Doris McIver
1974 The Castaway Cowboy Henrietta MacAvoy
1977 Run for the Roses Clarissa Stewart Alternative title: The Thoroughbreds
1982 Brainwaves Marian Koonan
1983 Psycho II Lila Loomis
1984 The Initiation Frances Fairchild
1985 Into the Night Joan Caper
1995 Separate Lives Dr. Ruth Goldin (final film role)

Television films

Year Title Role Notes
1964 The Hanged Man Lois Seeger
1970 Journey to the Unknown June Wiley Segment: "Matakitas is Coming"
1971 In Search of America Jenny Olson
Cannon Diana Langston
A Howling in the Woods Rose Staines
1972 Jigsaw Lilah Beth Cummings
A Great American Tragedy Gloria Wilkes
1973 Baffled! Andrea Glenn
Runaway! Ellen Alternative title: The Runaway Train
1974 Live Again, Die Again Marcia Carmichael
The Underground Man Eleanor Strom
The Strange and Deadly Occurrence Christine Rhodes
1976 State Fair Melissa Bryant
McNaughton's Daughter Grace Coventry
Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys Mrs. Horton
Smash-Up on Interstate 5 Erica
1977 Fire! Martha Wagner
1978 And I Alone Survived Irene Elder
1980 Roughnecks Ida McBride
1981 Our Family Business Patricia
1982 Mazes and Monsters Cat Wheeling
1983 Travis McGee Julie Lawless
1984 Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues Kate Keller
1985 International Airport Elaine Corley
1989 The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro Sophie Kubacki Alternative title: The Last Voyage

[ Source: Wikipedia ]