Lola Albright was one of the most overlooked actors of her time

The Peter Gunn beauty waited more than a decade for the spotlight to find her.

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Lola Albright sings on Bonanza
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In the Sixties, a pretty, yet distinctly older blonde with piercing blue eyes called Lola Albright suddenly became one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors.

It happened after she spent more years than she could count "wandering in the Hollywood jungle," despite appearing in meaty femme fatale-like parts in two massively successful films and critics universally praising her "enthralling power."

For Lola Albright, the spotlight just swerved her again and again, from the time she entered Hollywood in the mid-1940s to the time she took the role of Edie Hart on TV’s Peter Gunn in 1958.

As Edie Hart, Albright was 100 percent believable as a jazz singer because she was a jazz singer in real life.

"She was perfect casting for that role because she had an off-the-cuff kind of jazz delivery that was very hard to find," said Peter Gunn composer Henry Mancini in 1992. "Just enough to believe that she'd be singing in that club and that she shouldn't be on Broadway or doing movies."

She was so believable, in fact, she earned an Emmy nomination, and Columbia Records quickly moved to produce a follow-up to her 1957 record Lola Wants You, called Dreamsville.

(Mancini did the music on both. Today, both records are considered rare and cost a pretty penny when you can find recordings, even in CD form.)

After Peter Gunn, Albright had her choice of roles, and in her career, she appeared on the Big Screen as love interests to icons like Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

On TV through the Sixties and Seventies, she was also memorably featured in hit shows like My Three Sons, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Columbo.

She was also particularly effective in Westerns, especially in Bonanza episodes like "The Search" — where she played a saloon girl hired to track down Adam Cartwright’s impersonator — and "A Bride for Buford" — where she played a saloon singer with a shady boyfriend.

But just as quickly as Albright’s star rose in the Sixties, by the end of the Eighties, it had faded again.

After a final appearance in a 1984 episode of Airwolf, she retired, and in 2017, she passed away without returning to the screen again.

By the time Albright retired, she’d been lost in the Hollywood jungle for more than three decades, and she said in all that time, people were constantly scolding her for not taking more demure roles.

She didn’t see eye to eye with these fans and friends, even if playing the girl next door every now and again perhaps would’ve made her more famous, as they suggested.

"Some people come up to me and say, ‘Lola, you shouldn’t play that kind of part — it isn’t you,’" Albright said. "Well, I count to 10, bite my tongue and then tell them that I’m an actress: I don’t want to play myself."

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Pacificsun 20 months ago
She had a neat role in The Prince of Darkness Affair aka Helicopter Spies.
PulsarStargrave 23 months ago
LOVE her on PETER GUNN! That first season touches all of my FILM NOIR buttons, especially her singing! In fact, I have a couple of her performances in one of my YouTube playlists! I noticed she didn't appear as often during season 2, what was the deal with that? Oh and let's not forget Ms.Albright's appearance in a pivotal role in THE INCREDIBLE HULK 2 parter "The First"!
Pacificsun PulsarStargrave 20 months ago
Absolutely right! These actors had so much personality. Sometimes only one appearance when done right, was memorable enough!
RichLorn 23 months ago
Peter Gunn at times offered an almost forgotten view into the Beatnik culture, which I find much more fascinating than the hippy culture that followed. As for Lola, not a beatnik, was more of a sultry throaty saloon singer that ate up the screen. I miss her.
BTW does anyone remember her non-singing guest appearance on Kojak? She didn't age, she matured.
Runeshaper 23 months ago
Lola Albright was EXCELLENT in the role of Edie Hart on Peter Gunn! Truly a perfect part for her.
kimkats 23 months ago
You need to check youtube for her insanely good rendition of "How High the Moon" from an ep of Peter Gunn. Terrific voice and incredible band too. It's my favorite version of the song!
harlow1313 23 months ago
By modern sensibilities, that album cover is quite off-putting.
bagandwallyfan52 23 months ago
I like Lola Albright as Edie on Peter
Gunn. I also like Lou Ann POOVIE (Elizabeth MacRae) on GOMER Pyle USMC Mary Ann Summers Dawn Wells on Gilligan's Island Daphne (Hillary Horan) on Happy Days
And Victoria Winters (Alexandra
Moltke) on Dark Shadows and
Movie Actress Marian Marsh.
Craig Stevens was also great as
Peter Gunn.
I was more into KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT ("Josette DuPres") on Dark Shadows! I had a crush on her as a kid, was turned on as an adult and she's a stunning silver haired publisher today! Hope my next decade will be as kind to me!
Thanks for your comments.
Also Dark Shadows was a wonderful daytime ghost opera and I also like the
Haunting Theme Song of
Dark Shadows
Also I liked Kathryn Leigh
Scott as Maggie Evans and
Kate Jackson of Charlie's Angels played Daphne on
Dark Shadows.
Pacificsun 23 months ago
One of the most naturally beautiful too!

Catch her in MFU two part episode, Prince of Darkness Affair, Season 4/93.
MikefromJersey 23 months ago

Lola and Peter Gunn's writers created a surprisingly - for the 60's - frank sexual character in
"Edie", the singer in Mother's night club. She smoldered on screen, later sex symbols such
as Heather Locklear were like teen girls in comparison. Lola had "it" to spare.
It was made plain in many episodes she was staying overnight in Gunn's apartment.
Edie's pianist Emmett was played by Bill Chadney, who was married to Lola.
There were several in jokes during the series about this, some merely visual by the directors,
such as artfully positioning Bill in a shot when Edie is talking about true love.
Also when Emmett reminds Edie her set is about to start, Gunn comments
"Nice guy Emmett, you could do worse."
Pacificsun MikefromJersey 23 months ago
I love those clever insider bits really talented writers used, especially in the noir mystery/adventure dramas of the day.
MikefromJersey Pacificsun 23 months ago
You are so right about the Noir films slipping in-jokes and insider bits in.
As well as signaling to the savvy viewer thru subtext, specific positioning of what's onscreen,
and sly dialog, naughty bits designed to elude the censor.
For instance many people who have watched The Maltese Falcon have no idea all the
bad guys were homosexual. Peter Lorre was thrown over by Guttman for his new boy,
the gunsel Wilmer. At movie's end when Guttman asks Spade to accompany him
to Turkey, he is asking him to replace Wilmer in more ways than one.
And a gunsel was underworld slang for a very touchy, violent, gay gunman who is
ever ready to kill to "prove" his manhood.
Spade(Bogie) knows this, which is why he keeps needling Wilmer.
Insider bit: Walter Huston(dad of this film's director) appears uncredited as Captain Jacoby.
Pacificsun MikefromJersey 23 months ago
Absolutely. In those earliest days, Hollywood was a haven for those desiring to express themselves and be represented in equal measure. That's why a lot of classic film we now appreciate was enriched with subtext, without offending, and yet speaking to an appropriate crowd who understood what it meant.

I am always fascinated watching Perry Mason, for the amount of particular reserve RB put into his character. And yet, if you read an interview with Robert Benevides [ ] the actor in private life was such an interesting and accomplished person. Considering how much time that PM series took from his life.
MikefromJersey Pacificsun 23 months ago
I admire people who stand up for their friends no matter what it may cost.
William Tallman(Hamilton Burger) was fired for being at a "nude" party when
the cops raided a "friend's" house. Actually he and Charlie Weaver were the kings of
Hollywood "key" parties and a disgruntled participant set him up by inviting him over to
the "nude" party he was hosting, then the waiting police pounced.
Raymond Burr went to CBS and told them if Tallman wasn't brought back he was quitting,
killing CBS's golden goose. CBS caved.
Burr was very popular in Hollywood, for his charities and kindness to all, which is why
he was never 'outed' till years after his death.
It's fun to see him as Perry defending Jack Benny from a murder charge on The Jack
Benny Show.
Pacificsun MikefromJersey 23 months ago
The retelling of that story deserves it's place here. You'll notice (because you're already observant of course) the number of respectable actors, who followed (guest starred) RB into his movies, IMO creating wonderful chemistry. The plots might not be the most original on the planet, but watching the relationships is worth all of it.
Peter_Falk_Fan 23 months ago
A beautifully talented actress IMHO. I'm glad she didn't give up on finding that spotlight. The "Columbo" episode in which she guest-starred is 'Fade in to Murder'. It's the one where she gets shot in the back by William Shatner (as Ward Fowler).
Mike 23 months ago
Late in the primetime run of Peyton Place, Dorothy Malone fell ill, and had to miss about a dozen episodes (PP never went into reruns).
Lola Albright took over the role of Constance McKenzie on a day's notice, and got some of the best notices of her career.
When Dorothy Malone recovered and returned to the show, she made a point of publicly thanking Lola Albright for saving the show (and her part).
Pacificsun Mike 23 months ago
Cool trivia reminder, thank you!
top_cat_james_1 23 months ago
Albright is terrific in one of my favorite comedies, "Lord Love a Duck" (1966).
UTZAAKE top_cat_james_1 23 months ago
I concur! She caught my eye more than the lead actress Tuesday Weld.
Wow, I thought I was the only one who not only knew that flick existed but liked it.
LoveMETV22 23 months ago
"Overlooked"? Maybe. " waited more than a decade for the spotlight to find her." Why would any
actor/actress wait for the spotlight to find them? That's not how it works in any industry, not just entertainment. Not diminishing her talent, however miraculous good luck stories are few and far between. Most entertainers have worked very hard for the prestige they've earned.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 23 months ago
Well said, and too true.
Andybandit 23 months ago
That is too bad that Lola was overlooked. She was a good actress.
justjeff 23 months ago
I always enjoyed Lola Albright as Edie Hart [also know by Peter's pet name of "Silly"]. She had good chemistry with Craig Stevens and was a pretty good jazz singer. I'm glad to own the whole Peter Gunn series... a great "noir" detective show...
BrittReid 23 months ago
Lola quite the hottie and great on the program.
Catman 23 months ago
She glowed like a star in Peter Gunn.
MrsPhilHarris Catman 23 months ago
She sure did.
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