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Actress Margaret Blye, Star of the Original ‘The Italian Job,’ Dies at 73

Actress Margaret “Maggie” Blye, who starred in the original “The Italian Job,” died on March 24 in West Hollywood, Calif., after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 73.

Blye starred in many films and worked with some of the best in Hollywood: the Oscar-nominated film “Summer and Smoke,” starring Laurence Harvey and Geraldine Page, in which she played Dusty; “Hombre” with Paul Newman, Diane Cilento, Barbara Rush, and Richard Boone; “Hard Times” with Charles Bronson and James Coburn; “Waterhole #3” with Carroll O’Connor and James Coburn; “Diamonds for Breakfast” with Marcello Mastroianni; and “Ash Wednesday,” in which she portrayed Kate Sawyer, the daughter of Elizabeth Taylor’s Barbara Sawyer.

In 1969 Maggie starred as Lorna with Michael Caine and Noel Coward in the original version of “The Italian Job.” Subsequent film credits included “The Sporting Club”; “The Final Chapter: Walking Tall”; “Little Darlings,” with Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol; “The Entity” with Barbara Hershey and Ron Silver; “Last Goodbye” (2004) with Faye Dunaway; and “Man in the Chair” (2007) with Christopher Plummer.

Blye’s television credits included “Perry Mason,” “Gunsmoke,” “Ben Casey,” “The Rockford Files,” “Hart to Hart” and “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”

She also appeared in the pilot and multiple episodes of “In the Heat of the Night” with Carroll O’Connor.

Blye joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1968 and was active in the organization, where she served on the Foreign Language Film Award (FLFA) Screening Committee for many years.

Born in Houston, Blye began her studies at the University of Texas, then transferred to UCLA for her senior year. In Los Angeles, Blye was quickly spotted by an agent, and her first audition was for the role of Dusty in “Summer and Smoke.” She got the part and at a luncheon for the actors, she asked Geraldine Page, “What part are you playing?” The star answered politely, “I play the part of Alma,” then took the young Blye under her wing and advised her that if she wanted to be an actress, she needed to “study, study, study.” And that Blye did.

She is survived by her sister, veteran casting director, Judy Blye Wilson; her brother, Richard Blye; and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 30, in Houston, Texas, at the Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home. A memorial to celebrate Blye’s life will be held in Los Angeles at a later date.

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.

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