Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Underrated Performer of the Month: Allison Hayes
Hayes finally landed a promising role as a faded Southern belle opposite Van Heflin in the Western Count Three and Pray (1955). Unfortunately, critics focused on the film's other female star, a young Joanne Woodward. Instead of juicy parts in bigger budgeted films, Hayes got stuck in mid-grade fare like Mohawk and The Steel Jungle.
Hayes worked steadily in low-budget films and in television, often in thankless parts that capitalized on her looks. She was a promiscuous spouse who becomes a zombie in the camp classic Zombies of Mora Tau (1957). In The Unearthly, she played alongside John Carradine as a mad scientist and Tor Johnson as his henchman (the film was later shown on MST3K).
In the 1960s, Hayes worked mostly in television. She appeared on Perry Mason five times with friend Raymond Burr (who co-starred in Count Three and Pray). Health problems, possibly related to lead poisoning, caused her to retire from acting by the late 1960s. She died of leukemia in 1977; she was only 46.