R.I.P. Carol Lynley, 1950s teen covergirl turned blonde ingénue of the 1960s
The Golden Globe winner went from Playboy to The Poseidon Adventure.
Image: The Everett Collection
Carol Lynley could be seen smiling on the cover of magazines throughout the Fifties. The teenager was a constant presence on newsstands. Born Carol Ann Jones, she began her precocious modeling career under the name Carol Lee, before changing it to avoid confusion with another Carol Lee. "Carol Lynley, 15, Busy Career Girl," declared the cover of LIFE magazine in April 1957, as the cheery blonde pulled her hair up into a bun.
"Carol Lynley — Bored With Boys?" asked the cover of Hep Cats in 1959, underneath the cover line, "Necking – Must You?" Elsewhere, the Manhattan-born model graced the covers of Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and many more. She sold Clairol and Pepsodent in commercials, too.
That fame landed her the role in the Broadway play Blue Denim, a controversial drama about teen pregnancy and abortion. Mind you, this was still 1958, when abortion was illegal. The acclaimed play was adapted from stage to screen in 1959, earning Lynley the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer – Female.
In the next, revolutionary decade, Lynley continued to work in slightly scandalous films and sex comedies, from Return to Peyton Place (1961) to Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963).
Naturally, the popular model — an early supermodel, really, before the term was coined — landed roles on television, as well. One of her earliest was an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, "The Young One," directed by Robert Altman, in which she played a rebellious girl who will do anything to escape being raised by her domineering Aunt. A decade later, she popped up as the lead guest star in another MeTV show, The Invaders, in "The Believers," a crucial episode in the second season.
In March 1965, Lynley posed in the pages of Playboy magazine. That same year, she portrayed Jean Harlow in the biopic Harlow. Seen as the next in line of classic Hollywood blonde bombshells, Lynley continued to nab memorable roles.
Perhaps the most well-known is The Poseidon Adventure (1972), the sinking ship's singer who performs the Oscar-winning song "The Morning After." (She actually just mimed the song. Her voice was overdubbed by vocalist Renee Armand.)
From there, Lynley continued to find small guest roles on TV shows, from Hawaii Five-O to Fantasy Island, as well as low-budget films.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lynley died on September 3. She was 77.