PASSINGS: Joan Lorring

Joan Lorring, 88, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the 1945 Bette Davis film “The Corn Is Green,” died Friday, said her daughter, Andrea Sonenberg. Lorring had been ill and died in a hospital in the New York City suburb of Sleepy Hollow.

Davis chose Lorring for the role of the scheming Bessie Watty in the late-19th century drama after reviewing screen tests of several actresses, according to the website of cable channel Turner Classic Movies. It was only the third film for Lorring.

Although Davis was known to speak her mind forceably on movie sets, Lorring said the star was greatly supportive of her. “I have only had one or two teachers in my life about whom I felt as strongly and positively as I did about Bette Davis,” Lorring said, according to the Turner Classic Movie website. Lorring lost the Academy Award for supporting actress to Anne Revere, who was in “National Velvet.”


Lorring went on to juicy parts in “Three Strangers” (1946) and “The Verdict” (1946), both opposite Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, and she was in the 1951 film noir “The Big Night” directed by Joseph Losey.

She had numerous roles in early television series while also appearing on stage. In 1950, Lorring made her Broadway debut in the William Inge drama “Come Back, Little Sheba.” “As the blond and self-centered college girl,” New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson wrote in his review, “Joan Lorring gives a genuine and attractive performance.”

Lorring appeared on TV only a few times in the 1960s and 1970s but returned to play a role in the soap opera “Ryan’s Hope” in 1979. Her final credit was for a 1980 episode of “The Love Boat.”

She was born Madeline Ellis on April 17, 1926, in Hong Kong and moved to the U.S. in 1939. She was married to prominent endocrinologist Martin Sonenberg, who preceded her in death in 2011.

In addition to her daughter Andrea Sonenberg, she is survived by daughter Santha Sonenberg and two grandchildren.

Times staff and wire reports