From the outset of Mike’s Take, I have featured actors lacing up the gloves for a fun look at fight films on Boxing Day these past 7 years. Last year I devoted the day to the cornermen like Burgess Meredith who kept their man on his feet as the pressures mounted and the rounds wore on. This year I turn to the women who in some cases are behind their man 100% or in other instances are along for the ride while the money and fame hold out.
Let’s have a look.
Might as well start with the actress who may be more famous than any other in modern film history when it comes to the fight game and standing by her man thru the hardships, the ups and the many knockdowns in and out of the ring. None other than Talia Shire …. aka Adrian in the Rocky series.
Going back to 1949 we’ll find a woman far less reliable than Talia on the arm of Kirk Douglas in Champion. It’s gold digger, Marilyn Maxwell.
It was Pier Angeli who loved her fighting man, Paul Newman, in 1956’s Somebody Up Their Likes Me.
Star crossed lovers Ann Sheridan and James Cagney appeared in 1940’s City For Conquest.
It was Dianne Foster holding tight to Cameron Mitchell in 1957’s Monkey On My Back.
The Noir classic, The Set-Up, released in 1949 starred two of the genre’s best. Robert Ryan as the fighter and Audrey Totter as the woman in his life seen here having fun in a gag shot on set. The film itself is far more serious in tone.
It was the compassionate Julie Harris trying to make a life with washed up fighter, Anthony Quinn, in 1962’s excellent version of Rod Serling’s Requiem For a Heavyweight.
Then along came platinum blonde, Cathy Moriarty, who went toe to toe with the Raging DeNiro in the Scorsese classic of 1980.
In 1939, Barbara Stanwyck, famously costarred opposite her “Golden Boy” William Holden helping to turn the young actor into a “star.”
She may be best remembered for making eyes at Johnny Weissmuller as Jane in the Tarzan series, but Maureen O’Sullivan also stood by her fighting hero, Robert Taylor, in 1938’s The Crowd Roars.
It was Myrna Loy turning up in The Lady and the Prizefighter opposite real life fighters Max Baer (pictured below), Jack Dempsey and Primo Carnera.
Closing it out here in Round 12 (if you’ve been keeping count of the ladies) let’s go with one of my favorite glamour gals of the golden age, Miss Virginia Mayo, opposite her frequent leading man, Danny Kaye, in 1946’s The Kid From Brooklyn. Here’s Vera-Ellen declaring Miss Mayo the champ in a gag shot.