Born 1916 in Port Arthur, Texas, American actress Evelyn Keyes came out to Hollywood by age 18 as a chorus girl and was introduced to Cecil B. DeMille who in her own words “signed me to a personal contract without even making a test”.
After a handful of B movies at Paramount Pictures, Keyes landed a minor role in Gone with the Wind (1939), that of Scarlett O’Hara’s sister Suellen. (She was later interviewed for the 1988 documentary The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind).
Columbia Pictures signed her to a contract. In 1941, Keyes played an ingenue in Here Comes Mr. Jordan. She spent most of the early 1940s playing leads in many of Columbia’s B dramas and mysteries. Appeared as the female lead in Columbia’s blockbuster hit The Jolson Story (1946), she followed this up with an enjoyable minor screwball comedy, The Mating of Millie. She was then in a 1949 role as Kathy Flannigan in Mrs. Mike.
Keyes’ last major film role was a small part as Tom Ewell’s vacationing wife in The Seven Year Itch (1955), which starred Marilyn Monroe. Keyes officially retired in 1956, but continued to act. She died in in 2008 from uterine cancer at the Pepper Estates in Montecito, California, aged 91.
Take a look at these vintage photos to see the beauty of young Evelyn Keyes in the 1930s and 1940s.