HER SWINGIN' '60s CREDENTIALS: This top teen model became one of Hollywood's hot young things in the '60s and had starring roles in a number of prominent movies that showed off her dramatic, comedic, and romantic acting abilities
CATEGORIES OF SWINGIN' CHICK: Movie Star and TV Star
BIRTH: She was born on February 13th in '42, making her only seventeen when the '60s started, just like Sandra Dee, another teen idol. Her exotic birthplace: New York City. Her moniker at birth: Carole Ann Jones, named after screen legend Carole Lombard.
IMPACT ON THE '60s: Carol Lynley impressed millions of teenage boys in the early '60s who correctly saw her as a cute, talented, hard-workin' actress who was just a little older than they were. Among her best-known roles was Allison MacKenzie in '61's Return to Peyton Place, the sequel to the '57 hit and the precursor of the '64 TV series that had Mia Farrow as Allison. Carol also made a strong impression in the sex comedy Under the Yum Yum Tree with Jack Lemmon in '63, alongside Ann-Margret and Pamela Tiffin on the trail of husbands in Spain in The Pleasure Seekers in '64, and as a young mother in Otto Preminger's thrilling Bunny Lake is Missing in '65, which she has said is still her own personal fave among all her works.
CAREER IN THE '60s: Carol averaged almost two movies a year during the '60s. In addition to those mentioned above, Carol's highlights include Rock Hudson/Kirk Douglas's The Last Sunset in '61, The Cardinal with Tom Tryon and The Stripper with Joanne Woodward, both in '63, the Lauren Bacall melodrama Shock Treatment in '64, the creepy The Shuttered Room in '67, and the wacky Rowan & Martin and Julie Newmar comedy The Maltese Bippy in '69. One of her more interesting roles was as the screen goddess in Harlow in '65, one of two bio-pics with that title that year; the other, starring Carroll Baker, is probably more well-known, even though it came out six weeks later. During the decade Carol was guesting on lots of big TV shows, too, among them "The Virginian" in '62, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." in '64, "The F.B.I." in '67, "The Invaders" in '67, "The Big Valley" in '68, and "It Takes a Thief" in '69.
HER CAREER OUTSIDE THE '60s: After Carol's parents separated when Carol was barely two, she became a child model working in New York to help support her mom and little brother. She was making commercials and getting a few minor TV appearances as a young teen when she scored a Life magazine cover in '57. The photo caught the eye of Walt Disney, who put her in her first movie, The Light in the Forest, when she was sixteen. Several movies came out in '59, including Fabian's Hound-Dog Man and the British Blue Denim, when she was nineteen and pregnant. She was also working on Broadway in the late '50s, among them the Blue Denim role that she later played in the movie. Her momentum building quickly, soon Carol inked a seven-year deal with 20th Century-Fox, and her '60s career took off. In the '70s, she got instant notoriety for her well-received role as the dazzling singer in hot pants on board the doomed ocean liner in The Poseidon Adventure, '72. She was one of the few in the cast NOT killed off as soon as the ship turned over, and so she was in virtually the entire movie (poor Stella Stevens was unfortunately lost two-thirds of the way through). Carol also sang the movie's Oscar-winning theme song, "The Morning After." Her other post-'60s movie highlights include The Cat and the Canary in '79, Blackout in '88, and Howling VI in '91. She also starred in over a dozen TV movies in the last thirty years, especially The Night Stalker in '72, Fantasy Island in '77, plus appearances on lots of classic TV shows -- "Night Gallery" in '72, "The Love Boat" in '77, "Hawaii Five-O" in '78, "Charlie's Angels" in '80, and "The Fall Guy" in '83. She also returned to Broadway for a starring role in Absurd Person Singular in '74, and she was in Of Mice and Men in the spring of '75 at the Kennedy Center. In the '90s she was slated to have a featured role as Agent Cooper's secretary in David Lynch's quirky TV series "Twin Peaks," and though Cooper talks to and about that character, she was never seen onscreen. By now Carol has been in almost sixty big-screen/little-screen movies, with hundreds of appearances on TV. Today she lives and paints in Malibu.
TALENT: The sheer variety of her roles is impressive, everything from an ingenue to a sex goddess to a menace to a romantic lead. Untrained as a singer, she still belted out a respectable treatment of "The Morning After" in The Poseidon Adventure, though some critics speculate that another singer's voice was used to supplement some of her vocals.
HER '60s LOOK: Carol was an adorable young baby-faced starlet-to-be when she was on the cover of Life, April 22nd in '57. Her beauty had a wholesome quality to it, enabling her to play nuns in both a '62 episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and in the '70 TV movie Weekend of Terror. Still, she had a figure fit enough for men's magazines, as proven by the ten-page spread given to her in Playboy in March '65. In December of that year, she was also in the Playboy "Portfolio of Sex Stars." Her most famous costume was the one she wore in The Poseidon Adventure, which cast her as a band singer wearing tan go-go boots, white hot pants, an orange top with a big brown pendant, a wide orange belt with fringe to the floor, and a white coat also with fringe to the floor. It was perfect for the free-spirited early '70s, and Carol looked great as always, though she had to lose all the accessories to make the difficult climbs up through the ship once it turned over.
LIFESTYLE: At age eighteen Carol married publicist Michael Selsman in '60. They had a daughter, writer Jill, two years later. Later Carol was romantically linked with singers Frank Sinatra, Lee Hazelwood, and Gram Parsons, directors John Avildsen and Roman Polanski, actors Red Buttons, James Earl Jones, Oliver Reed, Stuart Whitman, and Bud Cort, producers Yoram Globus and Jack Haley, Jr., Monte Kay (who was the ex-husband of Diahann Carroll), L.A. Rams football executive Don Klosterman, comedian Dick Martin, and most notably British talk-show host David Frost, with whom she had an eighteen-year on-and-off relationship. There's a remarkable fan site devoted to Carol called "The World's First Carol Lynley Page," filled with trivia, interviews, and info, that site was one of the key sources for our Carol Lynley page; at that site Carol dismisses many of the rumors about her love life and describes the problems with trying to write a book about she's really experienced:
"I've never been in a scandal. I've never been caught running naked down the highway. I've not tried to shoot anybody. Nobody's ever tried to shoot me. My child is legitimate ... I've never been to Betty Ford. I haven't been married twenty-five times. My love life has been fairly sedate -- I was with one guy for seventeen years and then one for eighteen years. I have no diseases, thank God. I've never battled my way back from heroin addiction ... no porn ... no cocaine addiction, no drug addictions, no prescription abuse ... I've outlived three of my doctors ... So if you're going to write a juicy book, I've got a problem."
EXTRAS: When she was a model she used the name "Carolyn Lee," and she wanted to use that as her stage name, but another actress already had it, so she used the same sound with an altered spelling -- Carolyn Lee became Carol Lynley ... Carol's part Iroquois, her grandfather was full-blooded ... at that "World's First Carol" fan site mentioned above, Carol describes herself as a workaholic and an acrophobiac -- that fear of heights came in to play while filming The Poseidon Adventure, because scenes of Carol climbing high above the floor were actually shot with her only about a foot off the ground, and doubles were used for any shots that would have placed her up high ... one of the most remarkable aspects of The Poseidon Adventure was its cast, which included five Oscar winners -- Gene Hackman, fresh off his The French Connection triumph, double-Oscar-winner Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Jack Albertson, and Ernest Borgnine ... in December 2000 Carol told the San Francisco Chronicle that The Poseidon Adventure is "the movie that refuses to die. I was in 52 movies ... I have other things to do besides site home and watch myself in them, like Gloria Swanson. But the one I will watch is Poseidon, to see how it holds up. Every time I look at it, I go, 'OK, it still works'" ... Carol says at that "World's First Carol" site that she'd jump at the chance to do a remake of the '62 drama What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, which originally paired Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ... Carol would like to do it with another '60s star, Carroll Baker ... Carol calls Carroll "a terrific lady -- nice to be around," adding "I would have loved to have done it with Carroll because I think Carroll has been underrated as an actress -- and I think I have been to a degree. I just thought it would give both of us an opportunity to show that we are actually very talented actresses" ... Carol also claims at that Web site that Roman Polanksi wrote his classic '66 thriller Repulsion with her in mind for the lead role that was eventually played by Catherine Deneuve ... Carol later turned down a chance to co-star with Jack Nicholson in '71's Five Easy Pieces, she would've played the Susan Anspach role ... Carroll also commented to the S.F. Chronicle in December 2000 about the state of her career: "Hollywood is afraid of middle-age women. I think it has something to do with menopause. But I feel I'm going to have a latter-day career like Jessica Tandy and Ruth Gordon. I don't mean to sound conceited, but I am a very talented actress and I have my head screwed on right. I'm not going to drug clinics. I look good, and I've got all my marbles. So I really believe I'll be back" ... some of the photos shown on this page were generously sent to us by photo archivist Peter Alles ... see our Minx Linx page for the URL for that great Carol fan site.
Click on the linkage in the Table o' Contents on the left to select another Swingin' Chick of the '60s, baby.