Gun Crazy star Peggy Cummins dies

People | 4 Jan 2018

Peggy Cummins, a Welsh-born stage and film actress who worked just a few years in Hollywood but left behind an indelible performance as the lethal, beret-wearing robber in the noir classic Gun Crazy, has died in London aged 92.

A child star in England, Cummins was brought to the United States in 1945 by studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck. Gun Crazy came out in 1950.

Initially dismissed by The New York Times as "pretty cheap stuff," the low-budget movie was a tale of sex and violence and of love destroyed by greed.

Cummins played Annie Laurie Starr, a sharpshooter in a traveling carnival who hooks up with a local marksman, Bart Tare, played by John Dall. Tare is an ex-reform school student who wants to go straight, but Starr shames (and seduces) him into a life of crime. His reluctance to fire a gun is more than compensated by her willingness to kill anyone. The film's erotic energy and documentary style eventually made it a cult favorite.

Cummins made just a handful of American movies before returning to England in 1950.

She did briefly date then-aspiring politician John F. Kennedy and was asked out by Howard Hughes. Back in England, she married William Herbert Derek Dunnett and remained with him until his death in 2000. They had two children.

In recent years, Cummins appeared at numerous retrospectives for Gun Crazy, calling it her favorite production, even though she insisted she was nothing like Annie. Cummins saw herself as a country girl, indifferent to possessions and happy to raise a family. But she did appreciate the chance to misbehave on the screen.

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