BarbaraNichols (1928-1976), the “dame with the shapely frame,” changed herreddish-brown hair to platinum blonde, drew whistles as a semi-nude post-WorldWar Two pin-up model, and was named Miss Long Island. Broadway beckoned and shedrew attention in the Pal Joey musical. When Hollywood called, shefilled a dubious niche in small, wisecracking roles, wringing both comedy andtragedy from cheesy, dim-witted stereotypical strippers, gold-diggers,barflies, gun molls, and floozies.
Barbara scoredgreat reviews in films, such as Pal Joey (1957), Sweet Smell ofSuccess (1957) and The Pajama Game (1957). Her later work ontelevision cemented her archetypical characterizations on The Bob CummingsShow (1958-1960), Love that Jill (1958),The Jack Benny Program (1958-1960),The Red Skelton Hour (1958-1960), The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), Adam-12(1968), The Twilight Zone (1959), The Untouchables (1959) and Batman,among others.
Always thelife of the party and smiling before the public, her private life spiraled downinto a whirlpool of troubled relationships and heartbreaking decline. Foreverhaunted by her unbreakable image as “that kind of woman,” Barbara ultimatelyfell victim to the perilous price of fame, yet her sunny character and thehilarious anecdotes recalled by co-workers, directors, and relatives live on asa testament to her enduring appeal. The author has drawn from extensiveinterviews with Tab Hunter, Michael Dante, Marvin Kaplan, Paula Stewart,Barbara Luna, Mamie Van Doren, Shirley Knight, director William Byron Hillman,Barbara’s psychic, two of her relatives, fellow high school students, andfriends.
Filmography.Index. Bibliography. Foreword by her second-cousin, John Carpenter. Illustratedwith more than 200 photographs from her personal archives.
About theauthor: Richard Koper has published Fifties Blondes: Sexbombs, Sirens, BadGirls, and Teen Queens, and Affectionately, Jayne Mansfield.