Malone's film career began in the mid 1940s, and in her early years she played small roles, mainly in B-movies. After a decade in films, she began to acquire a more glamorous image, particularly after her performance in Written on the Wind (1956), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her film career reached its peak by the beginning of the 1960s, and she achieved later success with her television role as Constance MacKenzie on Peyton Place from 1964 to 1968. Less active in her later years, Malone returned to films in 1992 as the friend of Sharon Stone's character in Basic Instinct.
Early life and careerMalone was born Dorothy Eloise Maloney in Chicago, Illinois. Her family moved to Dallas, Texas, where she worked as a child model and began acting in school plays at Ursuline Convent and Highland Park High School. While performing at Southern Methodist University, she was spotted by an RKO talent agent and was signed to a studio contract, making her film debut in 1943 in The Falcon and the Co-Eds.
Much of Malone's early career was spent in supporting roles in B-movies, many of them Westerns, although on occasion she played small but memorable roles, such as the brainy, lusty, bespectacled bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep (1946) with Humphrey Bogart, and the love interest of Dean Martin in the musical-comedy Artists and Models (1955).
TransformationBy 1956, Malone transformed herself into a platinum blonde and shed her "good girl" image when she co-starred with Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, and Robert Stack in director Douglas Sirk's drama Written on the Wind. Her portrayal of the dipso-nymphomaniac daughter of a Texas oil baron won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. As a result, she was offered more substantial roles in such films as Too Much, Too Soon, where she portrayed Diana Barrymore, Man of a Thousand Faces (with James Cagney), and Warlock (with Henry Fonda and Richard Widmark). Additional screen credits include The Tarnished Angels (in which she reunited with former co-stars Hudson and Stack and director Sirk), The Last Voyage (with Stack) and The Last Sunset (with Hudson).
Later careerOn New Years Day 1956, she appeared with John Ericson in the episode "Mutiny" of CBS's Appointment with Adventure. During the 1963-1964 season, Malone guest starred on ABC's circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth, starring Jack Palance. From 1964-1968, she played the lead role of Constance MacKenzie on the ABC prime time serial Peyton Place except for a brief stretch where she was absent due to surgery. Lola Albright filled in until her return. In 1968, she was written out of the show after complaining that she was given little to do, especially in light of the show's concentration on the love story between young leads Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal. Malone sued 20th Century-Fox for $1.6 million for breach of contract; it was settled out of court. She would later return to the role in the TV-movies Murder in Peyton Place (1977) and Peyton Place: The Next Generation(1985). Malone had a featured role in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976). In her last screen appearance, she played a mother convicted of murdering her family in Basic Instinct (1992) with Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone.
Dallas producers approached Malone to step into the role of Miss Ellie Ewing when Barbara Bel Geddes vacated the role in 1984. She declined.
Personal lifeMalone has been married and divorced three times and has two daughters, Mimi and Diane, from her first marriage to actor Jacques Bergerac. Her star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 1718 Vine. As of 2011, Malone is retired and living in Dallas, Texas.
- Night and Day (1946)
- The Big Sleep (1946)
- Flaxy Martin (1949)
- Colorado Territory (1949)
- The Nevadan (1950)
- Convicted (1950)
- Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950)
- The Bushwackers (1952)
- Scared Stiff (1953)
- Young at Heart (1954)
- Battle Cry (1955)
- The Fast and the Furious (1955)
- Sincerely Yours (1955)
- Written on the Wind (1956)
- The Last Sunset(1961)
- Beach Party (1963)
- Fate Is the Hunter (1964)
- Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979)
- Winter Kills (1979)
- The Day Time Ended (1980)
- Basic Instinct (1992)
Awards and nominations
- 1956 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Written on the Wind, winner)
- 1957 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress (Written on the Wind, nominee)
- 1965 Golden Globe for Best TV Star - Female (Peyton Place, nominee)
- 1965 Photoplay Award for Most Popular Female Star (winner)
- 1966 Golden Globe for Best TV Star - Female (Peyton Place, nominee)