Meg Myles was born at the right time and place to crave her way in the bombshell niche – it was the 1950s, and bombshells were queens of movies, often imitating Marilyn Monroe, playing idiotic roles and hoping for the best. Meg Myles, although unknown today, actually made quite a career for herself – she has a slim but decent filmography and was a very popular lounge singer for a time. She got her biggest due on television, playing in several very famous shows.
Billy Jean Jones was born on November 14, 1934, in Seattle, Washington, to William T. Jones and Jeanette Jones. Billy was the second of five children – her older brother, Bennie, was born in 1932, and her younger siblings were Larry, born in 1935, Muriel, born in 1937, and Diana, born in 1939. In 1940, the family lived in Orting, Washington.
Her father was born in Canada (by the time she was born he was a naturalized citizen of the US) and worked as a engineer in the lumber industry. Her mother was a native Washingtonian and a housewife.
Meg was a thin child, nicknamed Jelly Bean Bones. In the 1940s, the family moved to Texas and some time later to Tracy, California. Meg reached adulthood in California, and attended College of Pacific for two and a half years. She was in a school musical when an agent noticed her and suggested she try Hollywood.
Meg liked the idea very much and went to Hollywood to try her luck in the pictures. Later she would regret leaving the college, as she could have gotten a scholarship at the Neighborhood playhouse in New York.
Meg had little luck with her career when she came to Tinsel Town. In late 1954, while sitting in one of the restaurants in Los Angeles, she decided to vocalize while eating. She impressed the restaurant owner so much that he hired her as a singer. In early 1955 she signed with Red Doff, manager to stars like Mickey Rooney and Liberace
Meg was discovered for the movies when two songwriters notice her in the restaurant and give her the chance to record two songs for their upcoming movie. So she got a singing segment in “The Phoenix City Story”. Her career started in earnest.
Meg mostly worked in TV, and I’ll just briefly outline the work, as thete is not much to write about there (sadly, they are not movies 😦 ). Megh had episodic roles in series like Search for Tomorrow, The Guiding Light The DuPont Show of the WeekThe Trials of O’Brien N.Y.P.D. Where the Heart IsABC Afterschool Specials.
Some of them are completely forgotten today, but some are classic well worth remembering, and give Meg a minor cult status among the TV series fan crowd. Since I neither know nor am interested in classic TV series, I’ll just let it slide.
Meg also made her share of movies (now this is more interesting!). Her first one was Dragnet the movie, from 1954. It’s a typical Dragnet movie, a vehicle for Jack Webb as Lt Joe Friday and his band of merry lawsters fighting against crime (sounds so cliche, right?). Well since I can’t say I ever understood the whole story behind Dragnet and it’s massive popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, there is nothing really substantial I can say about the movie either. Meg had a minor role and nobody noticed her anyway.
New York Confidential is one of the best movies Meg appeared in. The eternal story of achieving success and the American dream through crime and corruption is something seen in Hollywood on a frequent basis, but the trick is not so much how the story goes but how to show it as a plausible one. The movie hits the spot with well written, believable characters, played perfectly by a group of top notch performers who never became massive stars: Broderick Crawford, Richard Conte, Anne Bancroft and Marilyn Maxwell.
The Phenix City Story followed very much the same trend as New York Confidential, dealing with corruption and high places, but this time the storm center are not the characters who cause corruption, but rather the people who fight against it. It should be a lesson to all low budget movies to show how little money can go a long way if you have a good story and solid actors.
Calypso Heat Wave is a C movie, but it works when you sum it all. It was deftly directed and the cinematography is more than good. While the story is nothing to write about, watching Maya Angelou and Joel Grey on the screen, years before they came into their own, is mesmerizing.
Meg then took a hiatus from movies and TV, but when she came back, it was a true grand style. Satan in High Heels is Meg’s ticket to fame and fortune. While femme fatales in film noir were alluring sirens who led men to death, they were often subtle and moved quietly, like panthers, to snatch their prey. Meg’s character, on the other hand, is an absolute bitch, with no subtlety, bordering on being a sociopath. The story is simple enough. Meg plays a woman who ruthlessly uses men and women alike to rise from Midwest carnival burlesque queen to Manhattan jazz club diva. She’s dangerous, sexy as hell and wil eat your heart out if she wishes to. Also featuring is the busty Sabrina, and she and Meg and a pair to drool after.
A Lovely Way to Die is a average crime movie romance with Kirk Douglas and Sylvia Koscina. While it does have that cool 1960s vibe, it’s never gets off the ground. The story is uninspired and the acting mediocre.
Coogan’s Bluff is an early Clint Eastwood movie, a Dirty Harry before Dirty Harry. Let’s make one thing clear: this one is a fun movie, not to be taken too seriously. Anybody looking for a brooding, deep drama or even a action movie with a message should just back away. For what is designs to be, it’s more than decent. Eastwood is good, in his limited acting ability, as the tough as nails police detective. Watch out for old movie veterans, Lee J. Cobb and Tom Tully, in the best roles of the movie.
The Anderson Tapes is a above average caper movie. Like I already said, expect nothing more and you’ll be rewarded with a fine viewing experience. It’s always a joy to see Sean Connery on the screen – at least to me it is. While he was never a genuine talent and top notch actor, his charisma and “manly man” attitude pulled his through many, many roles. Watch out for a really good supporting roster of actors – Ralph Meeker, Martin Balsam, Christopher Walken, Val Avery and more.
Touched is a slow moving drama about two mental hospital patients who want to build a normal life for themselves. it has the potential to become a hard hitting drama, it never does, but it’s decent in its own way. Ned Beatty gives his usually good performance, and the leading lady, Kathleen Beller, sadly never got any semblance of fame. Meg plays Kathleen’s mother.
In February 1956, she was dating Oleg Cassini, by then divorced from Gene Tierney. it did not last long. By June of the same year, she had a forest fire romance with broker Buddy Avery (but that too did not last).
In 1957, she was involved with Sammy Davis Jr., but she was just one of the few girls he dated in parallel. He would go on to date songstress Joan Stewart and marry May Britt. The same year she dated another industry bigwig, Bing Crosby. Sadly, that too lead nowhere: he married Kathryn Grant not long after. In July, she briefly dated Lary Amato of the Rover Boys quartet. He was followed by Marty Brill and Philadelphia business man, Mac Lerner. Meg lost a lot of weight that year, but it was due to stomach problems and not dieting,and we can assume the stress did her no good.
In 1958, like many, many girls in Hollywood and New York, she dated lothario Bob Evans. BY September she moved on to Kem Dibbs, a former flame of Lana Turner. At he same time, she feuded over a nightclub comic with starlet Bobbie Byrnes (don’t you just dislike it when two women feud over the same man? I know the heart had its reasons and it’s not easy to defy emotion, but girl,if you are really suck on him, let the guy choose and be over with it!). Next in line was singer Tony Foster, but he left her for a society girl by October.
Meg raised some tabloid dust when she got into another feud, with another woman . This time it was model Cynthia Brooks, and the object of their fight was the owner of the Black Orchid club in Chicago, Bill Dougherty. It was a typical hair pulling affair, but after some push and pull, Cynthia won by marrying the guy. But Meg did not learn her lesson yet. Just a few short weeks later, she and starlet Nancy Valentine were enamored of the same nightclub owner. See a pattern here?
In March 1960 she was romancing Bob O’Shea, the ex husband of Martha Raye. O’Shea was a former cop from Westport, Masschusets. By June, however, she was seen with Vic Damone and a bit later with Dick Hauff, a well known playboy club owner, once a steady of Zsa Zsa Gabor. By September, she and O’Shea found each other again, and were all lovely dovely.
It did not last, long, and she was seen with Franchot Tone. What to say, I adore Franchot, but boy, did he like to play the filed after his divorce from Jean Wallace and Joan Crawford! In 1961, she fell down the stairs and hurts her leg, so she had to open on crutches at the Living Room. Earl Wilson noted that “But with a dress low cut enough, you didn’t notice the crutches. Franchot Tone, who recently had an operation, phoned her from the hospital to wish her well.” Aww, how sweet 🙂
Meg got further point on the tabloid notoriety table when she opened in the Living Room in New York and there was a big bustle at the opening (with brawling and punching and you know). She claimed later that she got so many offers, including one to appear on Broadway in a Garson Kanin play. Yep folks, publicity is king!
Meg and Franchot busted up by August after dating for more than six months (a kind of a record for that place and that time). But the men kept coming steadily. She got a ticket from Robert Goulet to see him in his newest hit play, Camelot. In September she was hospitalized for a back ailment, but vowed to get out on time to date producer Hal Prince. That lasted for two months, ad then she switched to jockey Willie Hartack.
In 1962, Meg was seriously dating Eddie Samuels, the accompanist to Eddie Fisher. She even announced their engagement, but later claimed it was a gag. How funny! After the bust up, she often went to Long Island to meet with Peter Duchin. It was a nice summer romance, and by September Meg had moved on to George Montgomery, the handsome actor and former husband of Dinah Shore.
Meg married TV producer Bob Duncan in 1965. They had a one day honeymoon, then Duncan left for Europe on business (without Meg). They divorced in 1982 after Duncan told Meg he wanted his freedom. Not long after she went back to the dating game, and told a newspaper reporter: “I found women had become so aggressive that men expect to be attacked by the women they go out with. And if you don’t attack them, the men say, ‘Where have you been, what is your problem? They they attack you”
In 2010, a article about Meg appeared on the internet. You can read the whole article on this link, but to sum is up:
In the 1950s, Meg Myles was a pinup girl, actress and singer. Today, she’s better known as the Upper West Side’s bird healer.
Ms. Myles, 77 years old, has tended to pigeons, kestrels, jays, finches, robins, ducks, song birds, cardinals and a goose.
Neighbors and even New York City’s animal-care agency bring her birds. Animal Care & Control estimated that Ms. Myles has rescued about 200 since 2006. “She provides a great outlet for injured pigeons because they require hand care,” said Animal Care & Control spokesman Richard Gentles.
And some more:
The bird-care chapter of her life started on a whim about 20 years ago. It was raining, and she saw a pigeon on a doorstep. “I just picked him up and put him under the tree,” she recalls. “I told him I’d check on him the next day and if he was still there, I’d take care of him.”
The next morning, she returned to her charge. It was being held by another girl. “I took it out of her hands, I told her that’s my bird, and walked away,” she says. She took the bird to her apartment. Eventually, he left, and another one was attracted to her window sill. He brought in a mate, they became a family-and the super grew angry.
Through a friend, she heard of Don Rubin, a construction worker who rehabbed wild animals in New Rochelle. She brought him the pigeons. Entranced with his outdoor setup, she learned the principles and methods of rehabbing, including feeding babies with a syringe, softening dry dog food for pigeons and how to hold birds.
“After that, it just kind of happened and grew,” she says. Since then, she has cared for injured city birds. Once a week, Mr. Rubin would take the bird to a vet in Yonkers, who would then release them into an aviary.
Ms. Myles’s apartment is decked out in bird-shaped everything: a set of shelves is home to miniatures such as a bright rooster, and a tiny feathered cardinal replica perches on a plant. Chirps can be heard from the bathroom, where Ms. Myles keeps her birds. At one point recently, she had 14. She feeds and cleans them every day.
Last Thursday, JoAnne Asher, a therapist, found a pigeon hobbling in a gutter. She brought it to Ms. Myles in a shopping bag. The diagnosis? Perhaps it was hit by a car, the healer says, examining burned feathers.
“I have dreams of winning the lottery and fixing her up in this brand-new facility,” Ms. Asher says.
How interesting! Meg sure led an unusual life!
Meg lives in New York City today.