Vera June Ralston
August 23, 1929
Vera June Miles (née Ralston, born August 23, 1929) is a retired American actress who worked closely with Alfred Hitchcock, most notably as Lila Crane in the classic 1960 film Psycho, reprising the role in the 1983 sequel Psycho II. Other films in which she appeared include Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955), The Searchers (1956), Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (1956), A Touch of Larceny (1959), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Follow Me, Boys! (1966), Sergeant Ryker (1968) and Molly and Lawless John (1972).
Vera June Ralston was born in Boise City, Oklahoma, on August 23, 1929, to Thomas and Bernice (née Wyrick) Ralston. She had three older brothers.
She grew up first in Pratt, Kansas, and later lived in Wichita, where she worked nights as a Western Union operator-typist and graduated from Wichita North High School in 1947. She was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948 and was the third runner-up in the Miss America contest. When she appeared as a contestant on the April 4, 1951 episode of the Groucho Marx quiz show You Bet Your Life described as "a beauty contest winner", Marx asked her about some of the titles she held. She replied, "I was first Miss Chamber of Commerce and then Miss Wichita and then Miss Kansas and Miss Texas Grapefruit and recently I've been chosen Miss New Maid Margarine and I had the honor to represent Kansas in the Miss America pageant."
Miles moved to Los Angeles in 1950 and landed small roles in television and film, including a minor role as a chorus girl in Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), a musical starring Janet Leigh, with whom Miles co-starred nine years later in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. She used her first husband's name, Miles, because an active film actress already went by the name Vera Ralston. Miles eventually was put under contract at various studios. She once recalled, "I was dropped by the best studios in town."
Miles's first credited film appearance was in The Rose Bowl Story (1952), a romantic comedy in which she played a Tournament of Roses queen.
While under contract to Warner Bros., Miles was cast alongside her future husband Gordon Scott in the 1955 film Tarzan's Hidden Jungle as Tarzan's love interest. The following year, she was cast by director John Ford as Jeffrey Hunter's love interest in the John Wayne Western The Searchers (1956), and appeared in the movies Wichita, directed by Jacques Tourneur and 23 Paces to Baker Street with Van Johnson. Also in 1956, Miles starred as Rose Balestrero, the fragile wife of Manny Balestrero, a musician falsely accused of a crime and played by Henry Fonda, in the film The Wrong Man. The movie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and is one of only a few Hitchcock films based on real-life events.
Signing a five-year personal contract with Hitchcock in 1957, Miles was widely publicized as the director's potential successor to Grace Kelly. Two years prior, Hitchcock had directed Miles in the role of Ralph Meeker's emotionally troubled new bride in "Revenge", the pilot episode of his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Vertigo (1958), a project Hitchcock designed as a showcase for his new star, was met with production delays. Miles's subsequent pregnancy would cost her the lead role which eventually went to Kim Novak with whom Hitchcock reportedly clashed, although Ms. Novak has stated in interviews that she did not have trouble working with Hitchcock on the film. Vertigo (which also starred James Stewart) was not a financial or critical success at the time, with Hitchcock claiming that Novak was miscast. Despite Hitchcock's disappointment regarding Vertigo, he continued to work with Miles, eventually casting her in what is arguably the role for which she is most remembered, that of Lila Crane in Psycho. In it she portrayed the determined sister of the doomed motel guest Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) (killed in the famous shower scene), who teams up with Marion's boyfriend and a private investigator to find her. Miles later appeared in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (in 1962 and 1965).
In 1962, Miles reunited with director John Ford for the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Starring alongside her former co-star from The Searchers, John Wayne, she is pursued by both Wayne and James Stewart, two very different men competing for her hand in marriage.
In addition to her film appearances, Miles was featured in many popular television shows throughout her career, including Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Laramie, The Twilight Zone and the western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds. She also co-starred in the first episode of ABC's The Fugitive (titled "Fear in a Desert City"), as well as guest-starring in episodes of The Outer Limits, Burke's Law, The Eleventh Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Ironside.
In 1965, Miles had a supporting role in three episodes of the CBS series My Three Sons. The same year, she co-starred with lead actors Robert Culp and Bill Cosby in the pilot episode of the TV series I Spy entitled "Affair in T'Sien Cha" (although the pilot was not actually broadcast until midway through the series’ first season).
Other notable films in which Miles appeared included the Walt Disney film Follow Me, Boys! (1966) with Fred MacMurray, and Hellfighters (1968), reuniting again with John Wayne. Miles had also filmed scenes with Wayne for the movie The Green Berets (also 1968), playing Wayne's character's wife. However, with Warner Bros. wanting more action in the film, her scenes were cut.
Miles continued to appear in numerous TV films and TV series during the 1970s, including the pilot for the TV series Cannon (broadcast in March 1971) as the wife of a deceased war comrade of private investigator Frank Cannon, played by William Conrad. She guest-starred in a further two episodes of the series in different roles during its run. In 1973, she appeared alongside Peter Falk in "Lovely But Lethal", an episode of NBC's Columbo, playing a cosmetics queen who commits murder. She also made guest appearances in episodes of Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, and Fantasy Island among others.
In 1983, more than 20 years after Psycho, Miles reprised the role of Lila Crane in Psycho II, joining Anthony Perkins in the sequel. Miles and Perkins were the only stars of the original film to appear in this second installment. Miles continued to appear in a number of TV and film productions during the 1980s, with appearances in the movies The Initiation (1984) and Into the Night (1985), and guest-starring in episodes of the TV series The Love Boat (1982 and 1984) and Hotel (1984 and 1987). She also appeared alongside Angela Lansbury in the TV series Murder, She Wrote, guest-starring in three episodes broadcast in 1985, 1990, and 1991. The 1991 episode, titled "Thursday's Child", was her final television role. Miles acted just once more, appearing alongside James Belushi in the film Separate Lives (1995), before retiring from the industry.
Miles has been married four times. Her first husband was Bob Miles. They were married from 1948 to 1954, and had two daughters, Debra and Kelley. Her second husband was Gordon Scott, her co-star in Tarzan's Hidden Jungle. They were married from 1956 to 1960 and had one son, Michael. Her third husband was actor Keith Larsen (né Keith Larsen Burt). They were married from 1960 to 1971 and had one son, Erik.
Miles's ex-husbands died within a short timespan of each other. Her third husband, Keith Larsen, died on December 13, 2006; first husband, stuntman and small-part actor Bob Miles died on April 12, 2007; and second husband, retired actor and bodybuilder Gordon Scott, died 18 days later on April 30, 2007. Miles was married to her fourth husband, director Robert Jones, from 1973 until their divorce in 1975.
Miles is a Republican and she was supportive of Dwight Eisenhower's re-election campaign during the 1956 presidential election. Miles is a Mormon who is both a member of the Hollywood California Stake and had been a frequent visitor to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Miles lives in Palm Desert, California, and does not grant interviews or make public appearances, although she is well known for corresponding with her fans. One of her grandsons, actor Jordan Essoe, met with actress Jessica Biel in 2012 in preparation for Biel's portrayal of Miles in the film Hitchcock.
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- ^ "Vera Miles profile". Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
- ^ Vera Miles Biography Archived February 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Yahoo.com; accessed November 26, 2015.
- ^ "Miss Kansas 1948 - Vera (Miles) Ralston". Miss Kansas. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Meuel, David (2014). Women in the Films of John Ford. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 136. ISBN 978-1476614564.
- ^ Frankel, Glenn (2014). The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-62040-065-4.
- ^ a b c d MacKenzie, Carina (June 29, 2010). "Vera Miles - Hollywood Star Walk". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Colonnese, Tom Grayson; Luhr, William; Brooks, James F.; Henderson, Brian; Grimsted, David (2004). The Searchers: Essays and Reflections on John Ford's Classic Western. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. pp. 167, 173. ISBN 0-8143-3056-8.
- ^ Crowther, Bosley (May 19, 1956). "Screen: Foggy Mystery; Van Johnson Takes '23 Paces to Baker Street'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Weiler, A. H. (December 24, 1956). "Screen: New Format for Hitchcock; Suspense Is Dropped in 'The Wrong Man' Fonda Plays Title Role of Paramount Film Martin and Lewis Abbott and Costello". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Allen, Richard (2007). Hitchcock's Romantic Irony. 58. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-231-13574-0.
- ^ Charlotte Chandler, It's Only A Movie: Alfred Hitchcock, a Personal Biography, Simon & Schuster, 2005, p. 237; ISBN 0-7432-4508-3
- ^ Harris, Robert A.; Lasky, Michael S. (2002). The Complete Films of Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Citadel Press Books. p. 202. ISBN 0-8065-2427-8.
- ^ Rothman, William (2014). Must We Kill the Thing We Love?: Emersonian Perfectionism and the Films of Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-231-16602-7.
- ^ Leitch, Thomas; Poague, Leland (2011). A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 237. ISBN 978-1-4051-8538-7.
- ^ Crowther, Bosley (December 2, 1966). "The Screen: 'Follow Me, Boys! Opens:Fred MacMurray Is the Scoutmaster". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Weiler, A. H. (February 6, 1969). "Screen: 'Hellfighters':John Wayne Battles Burning Oil Wells". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Munn, Michael (2004). John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth. London, England: Robson Publishing. pp. 294–295. ISBN 1-86105-722-9.
- ^ Arnold, Gary (June 7, 1983). "'Psycho II': A Travesty Masquerading as a Sequel". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Hunter, Stephen (September 11, 1995). "'Separate Lives' plods through a predictable mystery formula, and yet ..." The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- ^ Motion Picture Magazine, Issue 549, November 1956, Brewster Publications, Inc., Page. 27
- ^ "Mormonism and the Commercial Theatre" (PDF). scholarsarchive.byu.edu. April 1, 1972. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- ^ "Hollywood Honors Scouting" (PDF). Church News. September 21, 1996. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
- ^ "Vera Miles's grandson Jordan Essoe met with Jessica Biel to discuss the film Hitchcock". Indiewire. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 24, 2014.