Actress Laraine Day, a 1940s-era star who also appeared on TV shows until the 1980s, died Nov. 10 of natural causes in Ivins, Utah. She was 87.
Born in Roosevelt, Utah, she was descended from a prominent Mormon pioneer and moved to Long Beach, Calif., where she was discovered by a Hollywood talent scout. She made her film debut in 1937 in a small role “Stella Dallas,” and was placed under contract to RKO, where she starred opposite George O’Brien in a series of Westerns under her birth name Laraine Johnson. When she was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she took the name Day after her acting teacher, Elias Day.
She became popular as Nurse Mary Lamont in the film series of “Dr. Kildare,” and went on to appear in films including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent,” “Mr. Lucky,” “I Take This Woman,” “The High and the Mighty,” “The Locket,” “Tycoon” and “The Third Voice,” her last film in 1960.
In 1951, she became one of the first female talkshow hosts with her own ABC yakker “The Laraine Day Show.”
Day was a regular on the early days of live television, appearing on “Climax” and “Playhouse 90” and later such series as “Alfred Hitchcock,” “Wagon Train,” “Let Freedom Ring,” “FBI, “Sixth Sense,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Fantasy Island,” “Love Boat” and “Lou Grant.”
With her first husband, producer Michel M. Grilikhes, she was instrumental in the development of Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center. They arranged for a tour by New Zealand’s Te Arohanui Maori Company of singers and dancers to tour the U.S., culminating in a Hollywood Bowl performance narrated by Day.
She was active in showbiz charity, SHARE, raising money to fight developmental disabilities. Day wrote two books:, a memoir “Day With Giants,” about her second marriage to baseball manager Leo Durocher, for which she was known as “the first lady of baseball”; and “The America We Love.”
Day is survived by three daughters, a son, numerous grandchildren and a twin brother.
Donations may be made to SHARE, P.O. Box 1342, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90213.