Joi Lansing on TV: American Model, Film & Television Actress, Nightclub Singer

Posted: Aug 25, 2012
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Joi Lansing (April 6, 1928 -- August 7, 1972) was an American model, film and television actress, as well as a nightclub singer. She was noted for her pin-up photos and minor roles in B-movies. Lansing's film career began in 1948, and, in 1952, she played an uncredited role in MGM's Singin' in the Rain. She received top billing in Hot Cars (1956). In the opening sequence of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil (1958), she appeared as Zita, the dancer who dies at the end of the famous first tracking shot, during which her character exclaims to a border guard, "I keep hearing this ticking noise inside my head!" Lansing had a brief role as an astronaut's girlfriend in the 1958 sci-fi classic Queen of Outer Space. During the 1960s, she starred in short musical films for the Scopitone video-jukebox system. Her songs included "The Web of Love" and "The Silencers". In the 1964, producer Stanley Todd discussed a film project with Lansing tentatively titled Project 22 with location shooting planned in Yugoslavia and George Hamilton and Geraldine Chaplin named to the cast. The movie was never made. Lansing played "Lola" in Marriage on the Rocks (1965) with a cast that included Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr, and Dean Martin. She had previously appeared in Sinatra's film A Hole in the Head and in Martin's comedy Who Was That Lady?. She denied the chance to replace Jayne Mansfield in The Ice House, a horror film, and instead appeared in Hillbillys in a Haunted House, as Mamie Van Doren's replacement. Her last film was Bigfoot (1970). Lansing appeared in The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, It's a Great Life, I Love Lucy, Where's Raymond?, Noah's Ark, State Trooper, Bat Masterson, This Man Dawson, Maverick, The Mothers-in-Law, and had a recurring role in The Beverly Hillbillies. She is best known perhaps as Shirley Swanson in The Bob Cummings Show or Love That Bob (1956--1959). She appeared in several episodes as a busty model who was the foil for photographer Cummings. The series ran for 173 episodes. She also appeared as the title character in Superman's Wife, a 1958 episode of The Adventures of Superman. What was possibly Lansing's best role may ironically have been her least-seen—as the leading lady in The Fountain of Youth, a Peabody Award-winning unsold television pilot directed by Orson Welles for Desilu in 1956 and broadcast once for the Colgate Theatre two years later. The half-hour film remains available for public viewing at the Paley Center for Media in New York City and Los Angeles. In the 1960--1961 season of the NBC Western Klondike, Lansing appeared as Goldie with Ralph Taeger, James Coburn, and Mari Blanchard. In May 1963, Lansing appeared in Falcon Frolics '63. The broadcast honored the men stationed at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. By 1956, she had appeared in more than 200 television shows. She appeared in five episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies in the role of "Gladys Flatt," the unlikely glamorous wife of bluegrass musician Lester Flatt. She named Ozzie Nelson as possessing the greatest sex appeal of any actor with whom she worked. The two played a love scene in a Fireside Theater drama. The show was hosted by Jane Wyman. Lansing was sometimes referred to as television's Marilyn Monroe. Lansing broke into night club entertaining in 1965. She had taken up singing during an actors strike in the early 1960s. In May 1965, Lansing cut her first record album. It was composed of a collection of songs written especially for her by composer Jimmie Haskel and actress Stella Stevens. Lansing performed in the Fiesta Room in Las Vegas, Nevada, in July 1966. Featured on the bill were Red Buttons and Jayne Mansfield. In 1972 Joi Lansing died from breast cancer at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California where she had initially been treated surgically for the disease earlier the same year.

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