Friday, October 7, 2011
Peggy Knudsen & Patricia Knight (Roses are Red, 1947)
Unlike most of her sisters-in-crime, Knudsen's cup reporter in Roses are Red, a typical Sol M. Wurtzel Fox B-movie, works hard to get her story: the fact that district attorney Don Castle, who just happens to also be her fiance, has been substituted with a gangland lookalike, also played by Mr. Castle, a former MGM contract player with a certain likeness to Clark Gable. You surely have seen this plot before, perhaps even in a low-budget western or two, but trotted out by a game cast that also includes Patricia Knight, another tough-looking and talking blonde, the marvelous supporting player Paul Guilfoyle, and that cinematic rat Joe Sawyer, it seems almost fresh again. Roses are Red is well worth a second look, although it remains a bit difficult to find today.
Peggy Knudsen (1923-1980) was allegedly discovered at Hollywood's Stage Door Canteen and signed to a contract with Warners, who billed her “The Lure” for her “other woman” role in the Errol Flynn comedy Never Say Goodbye (1946). That and The Big Sleep, released the same year, should have at least made her a contender for top stardom but she somehow missed out and Roses are Red is typical of the low-budget fare in which she would star. She did quite a bit of television in the following decade and a half and dated every Hollywood wolf from Vic Orsatti to Howard Hughes before marrying the son of radio star Jim Jordan (“Fibber McGee”). The union resulted in three children before ending in divorce in 1960 (she claimed her husband made her “a nervous wreck”). A second marriage, to an electrical contractor, lasted less than a year in 1962. In her later years, Knudsen suffered heavily from an arthritic condition, her high medical bills reportedly paid by best friend (and former roommate) Jennifer Jones. Her early death, however, was attributed to cancer.