biography

Born Beatrice Peterson in Astoria, New York, on September 8, 1914, elegant blond actress Hillary Brooke grew up in Brooklyn. By the time she was a junior at Columbia University, a chance meeting with Johnny Powers of the Powers Modeling Agency launched her career as a catalog model. Although successful, she soon tired of modeling and left for England to begin an acting career on stage. During this time, Brooke picked up an English accent, which she used for the remainder of her career and life. After returning to the US from England, Brooke was enroute to Australia when she was stranded in Los Angeles. With nowhere to go, she walked into RKO Studios and landed a small part in the musical New Faces of 1937 (1937; with Milton Berle and Harriet Hilliard Nelson). After a brief stint at RKO and a short stay on Broadway in a Noel Coward play, she was signed by MGM in 1939, bu her career languished in bit parts. Finally, she landed a solid supporting role in the PRC western Rider of the Plains (1941; with George Houston). Afterward, she freelanced at many studios, including Paramount, Columbia, and 20th Century Fox. On a personal note, in 1941 Brooke married assistant director Jack Voglin, but the couple parted ways in 1948.

Hillary Brooke

Glamorous photo of Hillary Brooke from the late 1940s

As her career advanced, Brooke excelled at portraying a villainess in a number of film noir thrillers, including Strange Impersonation (1946; with Brenda Marshall), Big Town Scandal (1948; with Phillip Reed), and Vendetta (1950; with Faith Domergue). She also acted in several comedies, including The Fuller Brush Man (1948; with Red Skelton and Adele Jergens) and Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952; with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello). But today, audiences remember her best as the mother in the science fiction classic Invaders from Mars (1952; with Arthur Franz and Helena Carter).

the films of hillary brooke

Jane Eyre (1943)

Hillary Brooke

As Blanche Ingram in the gothic romance Jane Eyre, released by 20th Century Fox

Ministry of Fear (1944)

Hillary Brooke

Brooke portrays spiritualist Mrs. Bellane in the Paramount film noir Ministry of Fear

The Strange Woman (1946)

Hillary Brooke

As Meg Saladine in Edgar Ulmer's thriller The Strange Woman, released by United Artists

Up Goes Maisie (1946)

Ann Sothern, Hillary Brooke, and George Murphy

With Ann Sothern and George Murphy in the MGM second feature comedy Up Goes Maisie

I Cover Big Town (1947)

Robert Lowery, Hillary Brooke, and Phillip ReedUnidentified actor, Hillary Brooke, and Phillip Reed

LEFT: With Robert Lowery and Phillip Reed in the Paramount mystery I Cover Big Town. RIGHT: With an unidentified actor and Phillip Reed

Big Town Scandal (1948)

Hillary Brooke, Stanley Clements, and Phillip Reed

From the fourth installment of the Paramount mystery Big Town Scandal with Stanley Clements and Phillip Reed

Vendetta (1950)

Faith Domergue and Hillary Brooke

With Faith Domergue in the RKO film noir thriller Vendetta

Invaders from Mars (1953)

Hillary Brooke and Leif Erickson

With Leif Erickson in the science fiction classic Invaders from Mars, released by 20th Century Fox

Dragon's Gold (1954)

Hillary Brooke and John Archer

With John Archer in the low-budget crime drama Dragon's Gold

Heat Wave (1954)

Hillary Brooke and Alex NicolHillary Brooke and Alex Nicol

With Alex Nicol in the British-made film noir release Heat Wave

Perry Mason (1957-1966 TV Series)

Hillary Brooke and John Archer

With John Archer in an episode of the CBS TV series Perry Mason titled The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece. This was just the second episode of the series, airing on September 28, 1957

later years

Although Hillary Brooke's film career slowed in the early 1950s, she successfully made the jump to television, making numerous guest appearances on popular TV programs. She was as well as being a semi-regular on the series My Little Margie (1952-1955) as the love interest for Charles Farrell and The Abbott and Costello Show (1952-1953), where she portrayed the love interest of Lou Costello. Although she was still a busy actress, Brooke retired from acting in 1960 when she married MGM executive Ray Klune. After their marriage, Brooke never accepted another role, preferring to travel with her wealthy husband. Klune passed away in 1988; Hillary Brooke passed away of natural causes on May 25, 1999, at the age of 84. She was survived by her stepchildren, film and television director Donald Klune (1929-2003) and Carol Klune.

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filmography

FILM
Spoilers of the Forest (1957) with Rod Cameron, Vera Ralston, Ray Collins, Edgar Buchanan, Carl Benton Reid, and Sheila Bromley
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) with James Stewart, Doris Day, Alan Mowbray, and Alix Talton
Bengazi (1955) with Richard Conte, Victor McLaglen, Richard Carlson, and Mala Powers
Heat Wave (1954) with Alex Nicol
Dragon's Gold (1954) with John Archer
Mexican Manhunt (1953) with George Brent, Morris Ankrum, Karen Sharpe, and Marjorie Lord
The Maze (1953) with Richard Carlson
Invaders from Mars (1953) with Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Leif Erickson, and Morris Ankrum
The Lady Wants Mink (1953) with Dennis O'Keefe, Ruth Hussey, Eve Arden, William Demarest, Gene Lockhart, Hope Emerson, Tommy Rettig, and Mara Corday
Never Wave at a WAC (1953) with Rosalind Russell, Paul Douglas, Marie Wilson, Arleen Whelan, Leif Erickson, Lurene Tuttle, and Louise Beavers
Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Charles Laughton, and Leif Erickson
Confidence Girl (1952) with Tom Conway
Lost Continent (1951) with Cesar Romero, Chick Chandler, John Hoyt, Acquanetta, Sid Melton, Whit Bissell, and Hugh Beaumont
Skipalong Rosenbloom (1951) with Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom, Max Baer, Jackie Coogan, Fuzzy Knight, Raymond Hatton, and Dewey Robinson
Insurance Investigator (1951) with Richard Denning, Audrey Long, and Reed Hadley
Vendetta (1950) with Faith Domergue, George Dolenz, Hugo Haas, and Nigel Bruce
The Admiral Was a Lady (1950) with Edmond O'Brien, Wanda Hendrix, Rudy Vallee, and Steve Brodie
Lucky Losers (1950) with Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Lyle Talbot
Beauty on Parade (1950) with Robert Hutton, Ruth Warrick, and Lola Albright
Unmasked (1950) with Robert Rockwell and Raymond Burr
Bodyhold (1949) with Willard Parker and Lola Albright
Alimony (1949) with Martha Vickers and John Beal
Africa Screams (1949) with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Max Baer, Shemp Howard, and Joe Besser
Big Town Scandal (1948) with Phillip Reed, Darryl Hickman, Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer, and Tommy Bond
The Fuller Brush Man (1948) with Red Skelton, Janet Blair, and Adele Jergens
Let's Live Again (1948) with John Emery
Big Town After Dark (1947) with Phillip Reed
Big Town (1947) with Phillip Reed, Robert Lowery, and Veda Ann Borg
I Cover Big Town (1947) with Phillip Reed, Robert Lowery, and Robert Shayne
The Strange Woman (1946) with Hedy Lamarr, George Sanders, Louis Hayward, and Gene Lockhart
Strange Journey (1946) with Paul Kelly and Osa Massen
Monsieur Beaucaire (1946) with Bob Hope, Joan Caulfield, Patric Knowles, Marjorie Reynolds, Cecil Kellaway, and Reginald Owen
Earl Carroll Sketchbook (1946) with Constance Moore and Edward Everett Horton
Strange Impersonation (1946) with Brenda Marshall, William Gargan, H.B. Warner, Lyle Talbot, and Mary Treen
The Gentleman Misbehaves (1946) with Osa Massen, Shemp Howard, and Sheldon Leonard
Road to Utopia (1946) with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour
Up Goes Maisie (1946) with Ann Sothern, George Murphy, Stephen McNally, and Ray Collins
The Woman in Green (1945) with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce
The Crime Doctor's Courage (1945) Warner Baxter and Jerome Cowan
The Enchanted Cottage (1945) with Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall, Mildred Natwick, Spring Byington, and Robert Clarke
Ministry of Fear (1944) with Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Dan Duryea, and Alan Napier
Standing Room Only (1944) with Paulette Goddard, Fred MacMurray, Edward Arnold, Roland Young, and Anne Revere
Jane Eyre (1943) with Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Margaret O'Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, and Agnes Moorehead
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943) with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce
Counter-Espionage (1942) with Warren William, Eric Blore, and Forrest Tucker
Sleepytime Gal (1942) with Judy Canova, Billy Gilbert, Ruth Terry, Elisha Cook Jr., and Jerry Lester
The Lone Rider in Frontier Fury (1941) with George Houston, Al St. John, and Arch Hall Sr.
Rider of the Plains (1941) with George Houston and Al St. John

TELEVISION SERIES
The Abbott and Costello Show, 1952-1953 CBS/NBC TV series. Brooke portrayed herself
My Little Margie, 1952-1955 NBC/CBS TV series. Brooke portrayed Roberta Townsend

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
Michael Shayne, episode This Is It, Michael Shayne, originally aired November 25, 1960
Richard Diamond, Private Detective, episode The Fine Art of Murder, originally aired January 25, 1960
G.E. True Theater, episode Night Club, originally aired October 11, 1959
Lawman, episode The Ring, originally aired May 24, 1959
Richard Diamond, Private Detective, episode The Limping Man, originally aired May 24, 1959
Yancy Derringer, episode The Louisiana Dude, originally aired February 26, 1959
December Bride, episode The Other Woman, originally aired December 9, 1957
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece, originally aired September 28, 1957
Private Secretary, episode That's No Lady, That's an Agent, originally aired January 20, 1957
West Point, episode The Right to Choose, originally aired November 9, 1956
Studio 57, episode Palm Springs Incident, originally aired October 21, 1956
The Star and the Story, episode The Senora, originally aired April 14, 1956
Screen Directors Playhouse, episode The Sword of Villon, originally aired April 4, 1956
Private Secretary, episode Cat in a Hot Thin File, originally aired March 18, 1956
The Star and the Story, episode Arab Duel, originally aired February 18, 1956
I Love Lucy, episode The Fox Hunt, originally aired February 6, 1956
The Star and the Story, episode The Blue Landscape, originally aired December 10, 1955
The Millionaire, episode The Vickie Lawson Story, originally aired June 8, 1955
The Star and the Story, episode The Treasure, originally aired May 28, 1955
The Ford Television Theatre, episode Cardboard Casanova, originally aired May 26, 1955
Fireside Theatre, episode Luxurious Ladies, originally aired April 19, 1955
The Public Defender, episode Jackpot, originally aired February 24, 1955
The Whistler, episode Favor for a Friend, originally aired February 10, 1955
Cavalcade of America, episode A Man's Home, originally aired December 28, 1954
Big Town, episode The Senator Story, originally aired December 20, 1954
The Mickey Rooney Show, episode The Other Woman, originally aired November 6, 1954
The Christophers, episode Changing the World Through the Housewife, originally aired September 12, 1954
The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, episode When the Police Arrive, originally aired June 25, 1954
Mr. & Mrs. North, episode The Placid Affair, originally aired April 27, 1954
Passport to Danger, episode Casablanca, originally aired January 1, 1954
Racket Squad, episode The Case of Lady Luck, originally aired July 6, 1953
Four Star Playhouse, episode The Ladies on His Mind, originally aired May 21, 1953
Four Star Playhouse, episode Backstage, originally aired November 6, 1952
Racket Squad, episode Fair Exchange, originally aired February 14, 1952
Dangerous Assignment, episode The Bhandara Story, originally aired January 1, 1952
The Bigelow Theatre, episode Always a Bridesmaid, originally aired December 27, 1951
Gruen Guild Theater, episode That Time in Boston, originally aired November 8, 1951
The Bigelow Theatre, episode Rewrite for Love, originally aired January 14, 1951

hillary brooke links

Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen: Hillary Brooke
Visit the Glamour Girls site for an interesting bulleted biography and photos of Hillary Brooke

hillary brooke film now showing

Watch Hillary Brooke in the 1953 RKO comedy Never Wave at a WAC

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