NEW YORK — Peggy Cummins, a Welsh-born stage and film actress who worked just a few years in Hollywood but left behind an indelible performance as the lethal, beret-wearing robber in the noir classic "Gun Crazy," has died at age 92.
Cummins, who retired from acting in the early 1960s, died Friday in London at age 92. Her friend Dee Kirkwood said she died of a stroke.
A child star in England, Cummins was not yet 20 when brought to the United States in 1945 by studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck to play the title role in an adaptation of one of the decade's raciest novels, "Forever Amber." The petite blonde was passed over in
Initially dismissed by The New York Times as "pretty cheap stuff," the low-budget "Gun Crazy" was directed by Joseph H. Lewis and secretly co-written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, who devised a tale of sex and violence and of love destroyed by greed.
Cummins played Annie Laurie Starr, a sharpshooter in a
"I told Peggy, 'You're a female dog in heat, and you want him. But don't let him have it in a hurry. Keep him waiting,'" Lewis later explained.
The film's erotic energy and documentary style eventually made it a cult
Cummins made just a handful of American movies, including "Escape" and "The Late George Apley," before returning to England in 1950. She did briefly date then-aspiring politician John F. Kennedy and was asked out by Howard Hughes, only to have the wealthy aviator crash his plane and cancel their dinner plans. Back in England, she married William Herbert Derek Dunnett and remained with him until his death in 2000. They had two children.
Born Augusta Margaret Diane Fuller in Wales and raised in Dublin, she was the daughter of actress Margaret Cummins. By age 12, Peggy Cummins had starred in a stage production of "Alice in Wonderland" and by 15 had appeared in her first film, "Dr. O'Dowd." The most notable of her later movies was the horror
In recent years, Cummins appeared at numerous retrospectives for "Gun Crazy," calling it her
"The tendency was then, that if you're short and blonde and reasonably pretty, you always played rather pretty parts," she said at a 2012 screening in Hollywood. "To tell you the truth, I always wanted to play all the Bette Davis parts."
Hillel Italie, The Associated Press