Beverly Tyler: Actress in several MGM movies of the mid-1940s has died
Actress Beverly Tyler, who was featured in leading lady and second lead roles at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the mid-1940s and in a series of B movies throughout the 1950s, died at age 78 on Nov. 23 in Reno, Nevada.
Born as Beverly Jean Saul on July 5, 1927, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Tyler landed an MGM contract in the early 1940s. Despite her singing skills, radio experience, good-looking face, and impressive figure, the young actress was relegated to just a few supporting and decorative leading lady roles before she and the studio parted ways.
Beverly Tyler movies
Beverly Tyler’s two most prestigious film appearances during her brief MGM tenure came out after her Broadway debut (and only attempt) in Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin’s 1945 flop musical The Firebrand of Florence. They were:
- Victor Saville’s Scotland-set, turn of the century family/romantic drama The Green Years (1946), toplining booze-loving great-grandfather Charles Coburn – curiously, an Oscar nominee in the Best Supporting Actor category – and medicine student/romantic interest Tom Drake. Dean Stockwell and Eilene Janssen played Drake’s and Tyler’s characters as children.
- Norman Taurog’s The Beginning or the End (1947), a timid drama about the making of the first A-bomb, with Tyler as part of an ensemble that included Tom Drake, Robert Walker, Brian Donlevy, Audrey Totter, Hume Cronyn, and Hurd Hatfield.
Apart from three bit parts in her first couple of years at the studio (in The Youngest Profession, Best Foot Forward, and Bathing Beauty), Tyler’s only other MGM movie role was in Fred Zinnemann’s unlikely comedy My Brother Talks to Horses (1947), featuring horse communicator Jackie ‘Butch’ Jenkins, romantic interest Peter Lawford, Edward Arnold, and Charles Ruggles.
Beverly Tyler’s MGM career came to an abrupt halt at age 20, when she lost the female lead in The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947) to newcomer Janet Leigh. According to Leigh, studio head Louis B. Mayer felt Tyler was “was a little too sophisticated to play a farm girl. They wanted a more naïve type, and they sure got her.”
Following a three-year hiatus – a reported test for the female lead in MGM’s 1949 musical That Midnight Kiss went nowhere (Kathryn Grayson was cast) – Tyler would return to the big screen in B movies at various studios. Among them:
- Tay Garnett’s The Fireball (1950) at 20th Century Fox, with former MGM superstar Mickey Rooney, veteran Pat O’Brien, and relative newcomer Marilyn Monroe.
- George Sherman’s B Western The Battle at Apache Pass (1952), supporting John Lund, Jeff Chandler, and Susan Cabot.
- Reginald Le Borg’s Voodoo Island (1957), opposite Boris Karloff.
- And, further down the cast list, Sidney Salkow’s Chicago Confidential (1957), with Brian Keith, Beverly Garland, and Dick Foran.
Beverly Tyler’s last film role was in Edward L. Cahn’s B thriller Hong Kong Confidential (1958), starring Gene Barry, and in which the 31-year-old shared leading lady duties with Allison Hayes.
Television work & marriage to TV director Jim Jordan
In addition, all through the 1950s Tyler guested in a number of television shows – among them Big Town, Mike Hammer, and Climax! – before calling it quits at age 34 in 1961. That year she was seen in guest roles in a trio of TV series: Bonanza, The Andy Griffith Show, and Hazel.
The following year, she married TV director Jim Jordan (The Bob Hope Show), the son of Jim and Marion Jordan, better known as radio’s Fibber McGee & Molly. The couple would eventually settle in Reno, where Tyler would not infrequently be seen in local stage productions.
Jim Jordan, who later became a real estate developer, died at age 75 on Christmas Eve 1998.
Janet Leigh quote re: Beverly Tyler and The Romance of Rosy Ridge is found in Leigh’s autobiography There Really Was a Hollywood.
List of Beverly Tyler film and TV appearances via the IMDb.
Tom Drake and Beverly Tyler The Green Years image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
“Beverly Tyler: Actress in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Movies of the 1940s” last updated in January 2019.