Vandaag is het tien jaar geleden dat de Amerikaanse actrice Betsy Blair is gestorven.

Ze werd geboren als Elizabeth Boger en debuteerde als “chorus girl” in een nachtclub. Zij charmeerde er Gene Kelly, die prompt met haar trouwde in oktober 1941. She and Kelly remained married for sixteen years and had one daughter together before divorcing in 1957. During this period she developed a strong interest in Marxism, having been introduced to Lloyd Gough by Kelly, and attended Gough’s weekly Marxist study group, which Kelly did not attend. “And it was very serious. Our textbook was The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union… I was completely enthralled by the ideas.” She continued to hold left-wing political views and admittedly attempted to join the Communist Party. In her autobiography, she revealed her application was rejected as the Party felt she would be more valuable as the wife of the progressive Kelly. Kelly himself was not a Communist and his status as a valuable star provided the couple some protection.
In the 1950s, Blair was under investigation from HUAC and blacklisted for several years. She almost lost one of her signature roles, that of Marty’s girlfriend in Marty (1955), but was restored to the role after Kelly threatened to pull out of It’s Always Fair Weather. For her performance, she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and prizes from the Cannes Film Festival.
Her film career, nonetheless, was damaged during the “red scare” era and she had to seek work on stage in New York and in Europe where she continued to appear in films, including Juan Antonio Bardem’s Calle Mayor (1956) and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Il Grido (1957). She married Czech-born director/producer Karel Reisz in 1963. Het moet langs die omweg geweest zijn dat ze in 1969 terecht kwam in de film “De bom” van Robbe De Hert, waar ze naast Louis Paul Boon speelde. Volgens Wikipedia speelde ze overigens ook in Gejaagd door de Winst (1978) van Guido Henderickx en Robbe De Hert. Blair died in London after a bout with cancer, aged 85, on March 13, 2009.

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