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OBITUARIES

Kasey Rogers, 80; Veteran TV, Movie Actress

July 13, 2006|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Kasey Rogers, a film and television actress who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" and had regular roles on TV's "Peyton Place" and "Bewitched" before becoming a pioneering women's motocross promoter, has died. She was 80.

Rogers died July 6 at USC University Hospital from a stroke brought on by complications of treatment for throat cancer, said her companion, Mark Wood.

On "Peyton Place," the 1960s prime-time soap opera, Rogers played Julie Anderson, the long-suffering mother of Betty Anderson (Barbara Parkins). On the '60s sitcom "Bewitched," she replaced Irene Vernon as Louise Tate, the wife of Darrin Stephens' boss Larry Tate (David White).

Using the name Laura Elliott, Rogers' most notable credit was Hitchcock's 1951 thriller "Strangers on a Train," while on loan from Paramount Studios to Warner Bros. She played Farley Granger's estranged wife, Miriam, who is strangled by the psychotic character played by Robert Walker.

"For decades, no one realized Laura Elliott and Kasey Rogers were the same woman," Wood told The Times. "All of a sudden, Hitchcock fans were coming out of the woodwork. They wanted to know what happened to Laura Elliott. I think Kasey was the only actress to be very successful under two names."

Born Imogene Rogers on Dec. 15, 1925, in Morehouse, Mo., Rogers moved with her family to Burbank as a child. She earned the nickname Casey -- a reference to "Casey at the bat" -- because of her hitting prowess in grade-school baseball and later changed the C to a K.

Rogers played leads in junior high school and high school plays. She was later spotted by a talent agent, leading to a screen test and contract at Paramount during the late 1940s and early '50s.

Among her films are "Special Agent," "Denver and Rio Grande," "Silver City" and "Two Lost Worlds," a low-budget fantasy-adventure opposite a pre-"Gunsmoke" James Arness.

On television, she appeared in numerous series, including "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "Bat Masterson," "Cheyenne," "Maverick," "Perry Mason," "77 Sunset Strip" and "Adam-12."

When her son, Mike, took up riding motorcycles in the early '70s, Rogers followed suit and soon began racing competitively. She wrote a column on women's racing for Modern Cycle magazine and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and feature stories on racing events.

In 1974, according to WomensMXHistory.com, she established the PowderPuffs Unlimited Riders and Racers association and spearheaded the first Powder Puff national race. A year later, she persuaded the promoter of the Superbowl of Motocross, held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, to allow 10 top women to compete in a Women's Invitational Trophy Dash. She stopped racing in 1977.

Twice married and divorced, Rogers is survived by her brother, James Rogers; four children, James Donnellan, Mona Lewis, Monika Winslow and Michael Lewis; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in the Hollywood Hills.

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