Carol Lynley 1942 – 2019

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The cult movie actress and star of The Poseidon Adventure and Bunny Lake is Missing has died.

Let’s be fair – who didn’t have a crush on Carol Lynley at some point of their youth? The actress, who died this week, was one of the iconic faces of the 1970s, a curiously vulnerable character who seemed made to be the ingenue figure in horror and thriller movies of the era.

Though she started her career in Disney films, she soon moved to edgier stuff – the 1958 play and later film Blue Jeans dealt with the thorny issue of abortion was her breakout role, and she soon moved to a prominent role in The Poseidon Adventure (where she mimed to the song The Morning After), alongside roles in films like Shock Treatment, The Pleasure Seekers, The Shuttered Room, Bunny Lake is Missing, The Maltese Bippy, The Cat and the Canary and, in later years, The Shape of Things to Come and Vigilante. She also had a solid career in TV series and movies like Night Stalker, The Invaders, Journey to the Unknown, Weekend of Terror, Night Gallery, Thriller, The Magician and Charlie’s Angels.

Lynley had the look of her time – blonde, wholesome and somewhat hippyish, even though she was in her late twenties by the time she made her most significant work. She seemed sexy without being provocative, innocent while aware – the perfect heroine for 1960s and 1970s genre pieces. Invariably, her career died as she got older – she perhaps didn’t have the profile to transition into older, more nuanced roles and was too associated with her youthful roles to make that leap. But her work – though not especially important as individual pieces – adds up to a fascinating case study in cult film and TV of the era, and she deserves to be remembered as one of the icons of the era.

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