Pamela Tiffin, who appeared in the musical State Fair, the comedy One, Two, Three, and the Paul Newman detective film Harper, died in New York on Friday, according to reports. She was 78.
Tiffin, born in Oklahoma and raised in Chicago, moved to New York to attend Hunter College and start a modeling career in the early 1960s. On a visit to Los Angeles she experienced what every erstwhile star dreams about. She was spotted on the Paramount lot (some reports say the commissary) by producer Hal B. Willis. He cast Triffin, still in her late teens, in the screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s play Summer and Smoke, co-starring Laurence Harvey, Geraldine Page, and Rita Moreno. She was nominated for the Best Female Newcomer Golden Globe for the performance.
That same year, 1961, she co-starred in the peak Cold War comedy One, Two, Three, directed by Billy Wilder. Like Wilder’s other leading comediennes Marilyn Monroe and Shirley MacLaine, Tiffin exudes a kind of clumsy sexuality as the uncontrollable “boss’s daughter” under James Cagney’s avuncular watch in West Berlin. Naturally, the Southern belle heiress to the very capitalist Coca-Cola fortune ends up in love with an unwashed Bolshevik played by Horst Bucholtz, launching zingers like “you just tell Daddy I’m on my way to the U.S.S.R. That’s short for Russia.” The performance netted her her second Golden Globe nomination, for Best Supporting Actress.
She followed this up with the role of Margy Frake in the José Ferrer-directed remake of Rogers and Hammerstein’s State Fair. Though not as highly regarded as the 1945 version (and, quite frankly, maybe not the best entry in the R & H resumé to begin with) this film did afford Tiffin the opportunity to look forlorn in a gingham dress during the musical’s loveliest tune, “It Might As Well Be Spring.” (Her voice was dubbed by Anita Gordon.)
At around this time, Tiffin married her first husband, Clay Felkin, then a senior editor at Esquire Magazine. He later co-founded New York Magazine. The following year she appeared in the jet-age comedy Come Fly With Me, in which she co-starred with Dolores Hart and Lois Nettleton as airline hostesses looking for a first class romance. In his New York Times Bosley Crowther referred to Tiffin as a “crazy-cute number … begin[ning] to look like a new Audrey Hepburn.”
Tiffin next appeared opposite James Darren in two films, For Those Who Think Young and The Lively Set, then as the wide-eyed roommate of Ann-Margaret and Carol Lynley caught in the whirlwind of Euro-romance in the Madrid-set The Pleasure Seekers. She also appeared on Broadway in the role of Kitty Packard in a well-received production of Dinner at Eight.
Her career starting segueing into European productions, but not before one last Hollywood hit in 1966 as the young seductress in Paul Newman’s hard-boiled detective picture Harper. This film has one of the better trailers of the era.
Tiffin relocated to Italy by the late 1960s, where she married her second husband, Edmondo Danon, whose father, Marcello Danon, co-wrote and produced La Cage aux Folles, among other international hits. She was featured in the February 1969 issue of Playboy in a pictorial called A Toast to Tiffin. Lorrie Menconi was the centerfold and Nancy Chamberlain was on the cover. Others in that issue included Mort Sahl, Woody Allen, J. Paul Getty, and Nat Hentoff. What a time.
She then appeared in a string of Italian films, effectively retiring in 1974 at the age of 32. She and Danon had two daughters, Echo and Aurora. Echo bravely spoke out during the #MeToo movement in 2017 about her experiences with director James Toback.
— The Crown: The True Story of the Queen’s Institutionalized Cousins— A Real-Life Chess Champion Talks The Queen’s Gambit— Prince Andrew’s Most Appalling Real-Life Antics Were Left Out of The Crown— Review: Hillbilly Elegy Is Shameless Oscar Bait— Inside the Obstinate Life of Bette Davis— The Crown: What Really Happened When Charles Met Diana— Diana’s Relationship With Princess Anne Was Even More Rocky Than in The Crown— From the Archive: Bette Davis on Her Failed Marriages and the Man Who Got Away— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.