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            Barbara Nichols

            Biografie

            The archetypal brassy, bosomy, Brooklynesque bimbo with the highly distinctive scratchy voice, Barbara Nichols was born Barbara Nickerauer in Queens, New York on December 10, 1928. The dame with the shapely frame began as a model and burlesque dancer, providing rather cheesy cheesecake in the late 40s and early 50s before managing to draw some attention in TV drama. Hardly leading lady material, she found herself stealing focus anyway in small, wisecracking roles, managing at times to draw both humor and pathos out of her dim characters - sometimes simultaneously. Consigned for the long haul to playing strippers, gold-diggers, barflies, gun molls and other floozy types named Lola, Candy or even Poopsie, Barbara made the best of her stereotype, taking full advantage of the not-so-bad films that came her way. Most of them, of course, emphasized her physical endowments but she could also be very, very funny. By far the best of her lot came out in one year: Pal Joey (1957), Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and The Pajama Game (1957). By decade's end, though, her film career had hit the skids and she turned more and more to TV, guesting on "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962), "Adam-12" (1968), "The Twilight Zone" (1959) (2 episodes in 1961; including the genuinely terrifying "Twenty-Two"), "The Untouchables" (1959) and "Batman" (1966), to name a few. She landed only one regular series role, the very short-lived sitcom "Love That Jill" (1958) starring husband-and-wife team Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling. Barbara played a model named "Ginger". She also co-starred on Broadway with George Gobel in the musical "Let It Ride" in 1961 and scraped up a few low-budget movies from time to time, including the thoroughly mediocre sci-fi flick The Human Duplicators (1965) starring George Nader and Richard Kiel, who played "Jaws" in the James Bond film series. By the mid-70s, Barbara had developed a life-threatening liver disease. Her health deteriorated rapidly and she died in 1976 at the age of 46. Looking back, you have to hand it to Barbara. As the song from "Gypsy" emphasizes, "You gotta have a gimmick". Barbara did -- and she worked it. Like such other lurid platinum-blonde bombshells as Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, Joi Lansing, Barbara Payton and Diana Dors, she rolled with the punches. Unlike those others, she had genuine talent.

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