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Suzanne Kaaren Blackmer, 92; Actress Defied Donald Trump

September 07, 2004|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Suzanne Kaaren Blackmer, 92, an actress who defiantly withstood Donald Trump's attempt to oust her from her rent-controlled Manhattan apartment, died Aug. 27 from complications of pneumonia. She died at the Lillian Booth Home of the Actors' Fund of America in Englewood, N.J., where she had resided since becoming ill last winter.

A native of New York City, she began acting as Suzanne Kaaren and came to Hollywood under contract to Fox and later MGM. She appeared in "Disorder in the Court" with the Three Stooges and was the heroine in the Bela Lugosi film "The Devil Bat." In later years, she had bit parts in such films as 1984's "The Cotton Club."

Married to actor Sidney Blackmer from 1943 until his death in 1973, she lived in his family home in Salisbury, N.C., until it was destroyed by fire in 1984.

Afterward, she resided in a Manhattan apartment at 100 Central Park South. With allowances for her age and low income as well as rent control, she paid $203.59 a month in an area where others were charged $5,000.

When Trump bought the building and threatened to tear it down to build something more lucrative, Blackmer and others refused to budge. In 1998, a court ruled that Trump had to allow tenants to remain with controlled rents but could offer to sell apartments as condominiums.

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