Patricia Medina dies at 92; Briton was ‘50s Hollywood leading lady

Patricia Medina, a British-born actress whose Hollywood career as a leading lady in the 1950s spanned the talking mule comedy “Francis” and Orson Welles’ crime-thriller “Mr. Arkadin,” has died. She was 92.

Medina, the widow of actor Joseph Cotten, died Saturday at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles, said Meredith Silverbach, a close friend. She had been in declining health.

A petite, dark-haired beauty who launched her film career in England in the late 1930s, Medina was married to actor Richard Greene when she arrived in Hollywood after World War II.

“She was a stunning woman,” said Silverbach. “In her youth, they called her ‘the most beautiful face in England.’ ”

Initially signed to MGM, Medina went on to play leads in movies such as “Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion” (1950), “Sangaree” with Fernando Lamas (1953), “Plunder of the Sun” with Glenn Ford (1953), “Botany Bay” with Alan Ladd (1953) and “Phantom of the Rue Morgue” with Karl Malden (1954).

She also played opposite Louis Hayward in the early ‘50s adventure films “Fortunes of Captain Blood,” “The Lady and the Bandit,” “Lady in the Iron Mask” and “Captain Pirate.”

Medina and Greene were divorced in 1951. In 1960, in a ceremony at the home of David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones, she married the widowed Cotten, who had made his feature film debut in Welles’ 1941 classic “Citizen Kane.”

They appeared in a number of stage productions together, and Medina made her Broadway debut in 1962 in “Calculated Risk,” starring Cotten, who died in 1994.

They were “blissfully devoted to one another,” United Press International Hollywood reporter Vernon Scott wrote in 2000.

“Medina and Cotten were a curious pair,” Scott wrote. “She is a vivacious extrovert. Cotton was a gentlemanly Virginian, a quiet, considerate man.

“At myriad parties and industry events they were inseparable, among the most popular couples in town. They represented stability in this socially unstable community.”

One of three sisters whose mother was English and father was Spanish, Medina was born in England on July 19, 1919, and grew up in Stanmore, about an hour from London. She spent a number of years in Paris while growing up and was fluent in French, Italian and Spanish.

“In England I was nearly always cast as someone of mysterious origin, not too clearly designated but probably from some Southern European country,” Medina told The Times in 1947. “Here they decided in my first film, ‘The Secret Heart,’ that I should be a Yankee. In my second I’m definitely English. It’s all rather confusing, I must say.”

She met Greene while they were working at the same studio in England, and they married in 1941. They later co-starred in the 1944 romantic comedy “Don’t Take It to Heart” and appeared together in the 1949 film “The Fighting O’Flynn.”

Medina, who lived in Westwood, wrote the 1998 autobiography “Laid Back in Hollywood.”

She had no immediate survivors.