TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Fifteen — Nina Foch

Ice-blonde beauty.

Nina Foch isn’t exactly a household name.

She was a chic, blonde beauty who suffered through a spate of inferior film vehicles in her early career, but who possessed a superb acting ability that catapulted her from obscurity to become one of Hollywood’s most highly respected actresses.

And if you don’t know who she is now, you will after she’s celebrated on TCM’s Summer Under the Stars.

IN THE BEGINNING:

Nina Consuelo Maud Fock was born in Leyden, Holland, on April 20, 1924, the only child of Dutch composer and symphony conductor Dirk Fock and Consuelor Flowerton, an American silent film actress. When Nina was two, her parents divorced and she moved with her mother to New York. Once there, at her father’s insistence, Nina received an exhaustive musical education, and debuted as a concert pianist at Manhattan’s Aeolian Hall while she was in her early teens. She also studied painting and sculpturing, determined to pursue a career as a pianist or a painter. However, as she later stated, “I was a failure in both professions at the age of 16, so I decided to try acting.”

With Bela Lugosi in her film debut.

In 1942, Nina enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and eventually would study acting with such notables as Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. But landing her first stage role was difficult – she was repeatedly turned down because she had no experience. Finally, she decided to try a new tactic – when asked by a producer about her past stage experience, she replied that she’d been featured in Life Is Like That. “It was a big lie,” the actress recalled later. “[The producer] believed me and gave me my first job, summer stock. But the joke is there never was any such play. And what makes it funnier is that number of biographies have listed that play as the one in which I made my stage debut!”

After appearing with several small theater groups in New York, Nina landed a small part in the touring company of Western Union, Please, starring Charles Butterworth. When the play closed, Nina was unable to find work, but during these lean times, she was looked after by her agent, Lester Schurr. (“He saw to it that I never went hungry for long,” Foch said.) Finally, in 1942, Schurr secured a six-month deal for Foch with Warner Bros. studio that took her to Hollywood. Although Warners dropped her after only two months, her option was picked up by Columbia, which signed her to a seven-year agreement. She made her screen debut in 1943 in Columbia’s The Return on the Vampire, starring Bela Lugosi as the nocturnal count.

OTHER STUFF:

  • Columbia Studios wanted Nina to change her name, but she refused, consenting only to change the ‘k’ in her last name to an ‘h’ – “For obvious reasons,” she said. (“Foch,” incidentally, rhymes with “gosh.”)

    Foch and her first husband, James Lipton.

  • Nina’s first husband was James Lipton, then-star of the CBS-TV soap opera The Guiding Light, and later the longtime executive producer, writer, and host of the Bravo cable television series Inside the Actors Studio.
  • Nina was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Executive Suite (1954). She lost to Eva Marie Saint for On the Waterfront.
  • One of Nina’s most memorable roles was in The Ten Commandments (1956). She played Bithia, the Egyptian pharaoh’s sister who finds the baby Moses in the bulrushes and raises him as her own. Despite the popularity of the film, Nina wasn’t a fan; in a 1980 interview, she called it a “rotten picture.”
  • In 1975, the actress founded The Nina Foch Studio, where she provided private coaching to actors, pop artists, producers, directors, and screenwriters, as well as consulting services for trial lawyers, corporate executives, and government officials in preparation for their public appearances. “The reason I’m a good teacher is because I love it and because I’m tough,” she said.

MY SUTS PICK:

See it.

This was a total no-brainer: my pick is none other than My Name is Julia Ross (1945). In this film, directed by Joseph Lewis, Nina plays the title role of a Londoner who takes a too-good-to-be-true job as a live-in secretary to a wealthy matron, only to find that she has been abducted and that the world thinks she’s the mentally unstable wife of the matron’s son. Although she was only 21 when she played the part, Foch turns in a first-rate performance. If you’ve never seen this one, do yourself a favor. Don’t miss it.

And join me for Day 16 of Summer Under the Stars!

~ by shadowsandsatin on August 15, 2020.

5 Responses to “TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Fifteen — Nina Foch”

  1. If you’re recording others, Illegal is a decent re-do of The Mouthpiece. Although, you probably know that already.

  2. Nina Foch was only 21 when she starred in My Name is Julia Ross?! Whoa! She’s amazing in that role.

  3. […] Day 15: Nina Foch […]

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