Mostly Credited As: Lee Patrick
Date Of Birth: November 22, 1901 (Age 80)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: New York City, New York
Date Of Death: November 21, 1982
Cause Of Death: Heart Seizure (Laguna Hills, California)
Height: 5' 3 " (1.6 m)
She could play a tough, scrapping, hardbitten dame as she did in the gritty women's prison drama Caged (1950), or the meek and twittery socialite wife as exemplified in the freewheeling farce Auntie Mame (1958). The versatile character actress Lee Patrick had plenty of places to go in films and TV and she did...for over five decades. Born in New York City in 1901, Lee's father was an editor of a trade paper who prompted her interest in theater. She started off on the stock stage as a teen and debuted on Broadway in "The Green Beetle" (1924), becoming a long and popular NY presence during the 20s and early 30s with such scene-stealing roles in "June Moon," "Little Women," "Blessed Event" and "Stage Door." Good notices in the last play led to an RKO contract and steady secondary film work starting in 1937. By the 40s she had became an invaluable Warner Bros. stock player enhancing such movies as The Sisters (1938), Saturday's Children (1940), _Dangerously They Live (1942)_ , Now, Voyager (1942), Mrs. Parkington (1944), and Mildred Pierce (1945). However, her best known role of that period remains that of Effie, the wry, altruistic 'girl Friday' to Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade, in the classic The Maltese Falcon (1941). Lee also found time to do radio with a running part on "The O'Neils." During her "potboiler" run at Warners, she seemed to play everything with a biting, cynical edge, from nurses to floozies, but in the mid-50s the now matronly actress suddenly seemed to blossom before our very eyes into a dithery and obtuse Billie Burke-like delight as she geared herself toward comedy eccentrics. TV got a heads up on this angle when she played society doyenne Henrietta Topper, the flighty, quivery-voiced wife of Leo G. Carroll on the popular ghostly sitcom "Topper" (1953) which ran from 1953 to 1955. And there would be other fun and fluttery turns in Pillow Talk (1959) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), to name a couple. In the mid-1960s Lee retired for traveling and painting, but was coaxed back one more time to revive her Effie role in the "Maltese Falcon" spoof The Black Bird (1975). The only one joining her from the original cast was Elisha Cook, Jr. Lee, who was long and happily married to newsman-writer Tom Wood of "The Lighter Side of Billy Wilder," was plagued by health problems in later years and died of a heart seizure in 1982. They had no children.