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The 'Perfect Nymphet' Is Gone

Actress Sue Lyon has died at 73
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2019 10:00 AM CST
The 'Perfect Nymphet' Is Gone
Sue Lyon in "Lolita" (1962).   (YouTube)

(Newser) – The so-called "perfect nymphet" is with us no more. Sue Lyon, star of the original big-screen Lolita, died Thursday in Los Angeles after a period of ill health, the New York Times reports. She was 73. The Iowa native made her big splash in the controversial 1962 film about a pedophile's relationship with a 12-year-old, winning a Golden Globe for most promising female newcomer, per Variety. She went on to act in movies (including 1964's The Night of the Iguana) and television, but apparently damaged her career in 1973 by marrying one of several husbands, Cotton Adamson, who was behind bars for murder and robbery at the time.

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"I've been told by people in the movie business, specifically producers and film distributors, that I won't get a job because I'm married to Cotton," she once said. As for Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov's novel was so scandalous that Stanley Kubrick directed the movie secretly in London, per the Hollywood Reporter. At 14, Lyon was acting in her first major role opposite none other than James Mason. Boldly marketed with images of Lyon sucking a red lollipop or lounging in a bikini, the film got mixed reviews but built up a more positive critical consensus over time. Kubrick later said he "didn't sufficiently dramatize the erotic aspect" of the story due to pressure from the Motion Picture Production Code. (Read more Hollywood stories.)

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