In Remembrance: Doris Dowling
Doris Dowling, the character actress who delivered memorable work in films such as The Lost Weekend and The Blue Dahlia, has passed away on June 18, 2004 in Los Angeles. She was 81.
Born May 15, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan, she first acted in various productions around the Midwest before debuting on Broadway in the 1940 musical Panama Hattie, which also featured her sister Constance Dowling. She appeared in Broadway productions of Banjo Eyes (1941), Beat The Band (1942) and New Faces of 1943. She then headed west to try her luck in Hollywood.
Signed to Paramount Studios, Dowling made a rather unremarkable film debut in a small, uncredited role in And Now Tomorrow (1944) starring Alan Ladd. It was her next role, that of a hooker who befriends a drunken Ray Milland in 1945's classic The Lost Weekend, that first earned Dowling serious recognition. The following year she appeared as Alan Ladd's wife in the noir mystery The Blue Dahlia. After starring the B-thriller The Crimson Key (1947) and an uncredited appearance in The Emperor Waltz (1948) she headed to Italy, where her sister Constance had already located.
In Italy Dowling landed the part of Francesca, a jewel thief hiding out among Northern Italy rice workers in Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice, 1949) for director Giuseppe de Santis. She appeared in a handful of roles before essaying the part of Bianca in Orson Welles' 1952 adaptation of Othello.
She returned to Hollywood and transitioned from film work to television, appearing on such shows Climax!, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Barnaby Jones, The Andy Griffith Show, Perry Mason, and Kojack as well as doing stage work in the Los Angeles area. She also served on the board of directors of Los Angeles' Theater East. Her last film was 1981's Separate Ways before quietly retiring from acting in the mid-80s.