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Obituaries

Irene Hervey; Film and Television Actress

December 23, 1998|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Irene Hervey, an actress known for her beauty and credits ranging from "Destry Rides Again" to "Play Misty for Me," has died. She was 89.

Hervey, who gained prominence in the 1930s, died Sunday at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills.

Born in Los Angeles, Hervey started acting in plays at Venice High School and soon had a contract with MGM. She appeared in such films as "The Count of Monte Cristo" in 1934, "Charlie Chan in Shanghai" in 1935 and "The Boys From Syracuse" in 1940. Her first starring role came in 1937 as a taxi-dancer in "The Girl Said No."

"I adore being a common, rather coarse girl," she told The Times that year. "You see, I've been refined for four years, always the 'nice' ingenue. Oh, this has been a wonderful year."

Hervey is well remembered in the Western genre as James Stewart's girlfriend in the 1939 "Destry Rides Again," starring the lanky Stewart and sultry Marlene Dietrich.

Hervey also appeared in "Cactus Flower," the 1969 comedy that earned Goldie Hawn her Academy Award. In her final film role, Hervey portrayed the wealthy San Francisco businesswoman who hired Clint Eastwood as a disc jockey in the 1971 "Play Misty for Me," the first film that Eastwood directed.

The actress occasionally appeared on stage, notably on Broadway and on tour with "State of the Union" in the late 1940s.

She was popular on television in the 1950s and 1960s, earning an Emmy nomination for a guest role on "My Three Sons." Hervey appeared regularly as Aunt Meg on the 1965-66 detective series "Honey West," starring Anne Francis.

Hervey also had guest roles on such popular television series as "Charlie's Angels," "Twilight Zone," "Perry Mason" and "Richard Diamond, Private Detective."

As her Hollywood career waned, she became a travel agent in Sherman Oaks.

After a brief early marriage that produced a daughter, Gail, Hervey was married for 21 years to singer and actor Allan Jones. That marriage, which ended in divorce in 1957, produced a son, singer Jack Jones.

In addition to her children, Gail Christensen and Jones, Hervey is survived by several grandchildren.

Memorial services will be private. The family has asked that any memorial donations be sent to the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills.

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