Gail Ganley - Rotten Tomatoes

Gail Ganley

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Actress-singer-dancer Gail Ganley enjoyed a busy career on both the large and small screens across the 1950s into the early 1960s. Though she appeared in featured spots in concert films such as The T.A.M.I. Show (doing the Del Shannon song "Runaway," which she also recorded as a single for 20th Century-Fox Records), Ganley's principal fame derives from her work in a pair of late 1950s horror films. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1939, Ganley was 11 years old when her family moved to Los Angeles. Her acting career began not long after -- among her early uncredited roles, she played one of Eddie Cantor's daughters in The Eddie Cantor Story (1953) and was the 15-year-old Lillian Roth (portrayed as an adult by Susan Hayward) in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955). Amid appearances in various television comedies and anthology series, as well as small roles in jukebox movies like Don't Knock the Rock (1956), Ganley began making much longer-lasting impressions in horror films. She played a key role in the opening sequence of Roger Corman's Not of This Earth (1957), with barely a minute of screen time. As a hapless teenage girl engaging in an illicit tryst with her boyfriend, parked on what had to be the most ominous-looking street in Los Angeles, Ganley cut a memorable figure as the first on-screen victim of Paul Birch's blood-seeking alien. Her murder scene -- chillingly sudden and mysterious, and as horrific for the questions that it leaves unanswered as it is for its graphic violence -- is an almost iconic moment in modern horror films, establishing clearly for perhaps the first time in popular American cinema the direct link between teenage sexual morays and horrific death. Such connections went on to become a staple of the genre in the 1970s in the hands of John Carpenter and other directors.Ganley appeared that same year in Herbert L. Strock's Blood of Dracula, itself a gender- and genre-twisting take on vampirism, in a key supporting role. But despite increasingly good roles and memorable scenes, the actress's big-screen career didn't follow much of an upward arc. She mostly continued playing uncredited parts in major studio pictures, such as Marjorie Morningstar, and credited guest roles in television series, including The Adventures of Jim Bowie and The Munsters. She was mainly visible as a dancer/singer in her most prominent 1960s work, The T.A.M.I. Show (1965), and was reportedly linked romantically to Howard Hughes at one point. Ganley's last known screen appearance was as a dancer in the TV movie The Jerk, Too (1984).

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet The Girl Most Likely
  • Dancer
1958
No Score Yet Marjorie Morningstar
  • Wally's Girl Friend
1958
No Score Yet Blood of Dracula
  • Myra
1957
No Score Yet Not of This Earth
  • Girl
1957
No Score Yet I'll Cry Tomorrow
  • Lillian at 15
1955

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