Shirley O’Hara Krims, screen actress, public relations executive, mother to a showbizzer and wife to two showbiz notables, died Friday, Dec. 13 at the Motion Picture Hospital in Calabasas, Calif., from complication of diabetes. She was 78.
Rochester, Minn., native journeyed to California at 18 and took up residence at the famed Studio Club in Hollywood. Signed by RKO Studios, she appeared in numerous films throughout the late 1930s and the ’40s. Credits include a co-starring role in “Tarzan of the Amazon” with Johnny Weissmuller. She also appeared in Frank Sinatra’s first motion picture, “Higher and Higher” and the original production of “Ghost Ship.”
In the 1950s she appeared on television in such now-vintage shows as “Fireside Theater,” “Gunsmoke,” ‘The Millionaire’, ‘Racket Squad’ and ‘Dragnet!’
During WWII, Bette Davis presented her with a “Support for America” award acknowledging her wartime efforts with the USO’s Hollywood Canteen.
In the early 1970s, she was appointed director of public relations for the Burbank Studios, later part of Warner Bros., and where she was known for her diplomatic skills and ability to produce large celebrity events. She retired in 1995.
A member of the Publicists Guild, she was active with several major charities, including the Motion Picture Permanent Charities, Operation Children, Waif and the Screen Smart Set.
She married twice: to Jimmy McHugh Jr., head of MCA U.K. and son of legendary songwriter Jimmy McHugh (“On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “I’m in the Mood for Love,” etc.) and later to screenwriter Milton Krims, a founding member of the Writers Guild of America and five-time Academy Award nominee, and with whom she was married 29 years until his death in 1988.
She is survived by her son, photographer Jimmy McHugh III; her daughter-in-law, former dancer Johnna Kirkland McHugh; a granddaughter; and a sister.
Services will be held at the Good Shepard Catholic Church in Beverly Hills on Wednesday at 10:30am.