Lizabeth Scott, femme fatale in 1940s to 1950s film noir, dies at age 92

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Husky-voiced blonde Lizabeth Scott, who played the femme fatale in numerous film noir movies of the 1940s and 1950s alongside leading men including Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster and Charlton Heston, has died at age 92, according to media reports.

Scott, who was often compared to her Hollywood contemporary Lauren Bacall during a career sidetracked by scandal, died on Jan 31 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the reports said. The Los Angeles Times quoted a longtime friend, Mary Goodstein, as saying Scott died of congestive heart failure.

Officials at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center were not immediately available for comment.

Scott excelled in playing beautiful but duplicitous women who ensnare the disillusioned men who populated film noir, a genre of dark-themed American crime and detective movies popular during the 1940s and 1950s that reflected society's insecurities during and after World War Two.

She physically resembled Bacall and even appeared opposite Bacall's husband Bogart in the 1947 film noir entry Dead Reckoning about a military veteran who encounters her in his quest to solve his war buddy's murder.

Her other noteworthy films included The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas; Desert Fury (1947) with Lancaster; I Walk Alone (1948) with Lancaster and Douglas; Dark City (1950) with Heston; The Racket (1951) with Robert Mitchum; and Bad For Each Other(1953) with Heston.

She appeared in more than 20 movies but her career never recovered after her unsuccessful US$2.5 million lawsuit in 1955 against a gossip magazine called Confidential that published allegations she was a lesbian.

Her film career all but ended after she starred opposite Elvis Presley in Loving You (1957), the rocker's second film. She made only one more film appearance, alongside Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney in the 1972 comedy-thriller Pulp.

While her fame faded with time, she was recognised as one of the most important and prolific film noir actresses. "What you call film noir I call psychological drama," she once said. "It showed all these facets of human experience and conflict - that these women could be involved with their heart and yet could think with their minds."

She was born Emma Matzo on Sept 29, 1922, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She later took Elizabeth Scott as her stage name but changed her first name to Lizabeth to make it more distinctive. She worked as a model and stage actress in New York City as a young woman before meeting Hollywood producer Hal Wallis and entering the movies.

Wallis cast Scott in the 1945 romance You Came Along, which led him to use her in a succession of film noir movies.