Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Audrey Dalton Survived a Ship Sinking, a Serpent and a Stallion

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Audrey Dalton Survived a Ship Sinking, a Serpent and a Stallion

Article excerpt

Four decades before James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" swamped the Academy Awards with 11 wins, Audrey Dalton signed on for Hollywood's 1953 recreation of the famous 1912 maritime disaster.

"Our version only received one Oscar for writing," Dalton, who turned 80 this year, said from her home in Saddleback Valley, Calif. "But the special effects were pretty good for 60 years ago. The cast included Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb, and it was a total joy to work on from beginning to end."

Webb delighted movie audiences during the 1940s and '50s for playing acerbic, snobbish characters, most notably in three Mr. Belvedere films.

"He was a little bit like that and mostly kept to himself," Dalton recalled. "But he was very funny with a sharp wit. Barbara Stanwyck was a dream -- the ultimate pro, always prepared and ready to help."

During shooting, the cast welcomed some special guests.

"A man and a woman who were Titanic survivors visited the set," said Dalton. "They were children when the ship sank, but had memories of the event. They seemed fascinated by the moviemaking process."

The Irish-born Dalton was 17 when her family moved to London, where she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was soon noticed by a movie executive.

"Paramount brought me over to the U.S. on a 7-year contract beginning with 'The Girls of Pleasure Island,' " she explained. The 1953 comedy was set on a South Pacific Island, toward the end of World War II.

"The Korean War was still in progress. So to promote the film, we were sent to Seoul, where it premiered for the troops," Dalton said. "It's dated now, but the men enjoyed it. We were driven around in army trucks and dressed up in beautiful Edith Head gowns doing skits for the troops."

Returning to the U.S. …

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