Cold, calculating and hard-as-nails is probably the best definition of Gail Patrick’s femmes on the 30s and 40s silver screen, and the actress herself was no softie in real life. The tall, slender, patrician beauty was born with the equally stately-sounding name Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 20, 1911. She received a B.A. and was a dean of women at her alma mater, Howard College, for a time. She was studying pre-law at the University of Alabama at the time she, by happenstance, became a finalist in a nationwide contest for a Paramount film role (which she did not get). This led her to going to Hollywood and, despite her loss, the studio wound up offering her a studio contract at $50 a week (she managed to finagle her way to $75).
After the usual grooming in bit parts, Gail moved stealthily up the ladder to featured roles in a wide assortment of genres including the fantasy Death Takes a Holiday (1934), the melodramatic thriller The Crime of Helen… read more