About Loretta Mary Luiz
Laurette Luez (born Loretta Mary Luiz 19 August 1928, Honolulu, Hawaii - died 12 September 1999, Milton, Florida) was a United States supporting actor and successful commercial model who appeared in films and on television during a 20 year career. She was a widely known Hollywood celebrity during the 1950s, owing much to publicity about her social life. Luez is most often noted for her supporting role as photographic model Marla Rakubian in Rudolph Maté's 1949 film noir drama D.O.A.
Luez was the second of three children born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Frank and Francesca Luiz, vaudeville singers and dancers who performed traditional Hawaiian and Spanish music. Luez's father was Hawaiian with some Portuguese ancestry. Her mother was Australian, the daughter of an actor. Luez first showed up on stage doing a hula dance at age three. In July 1935 the family left Honolulu on the SS Mariposa to settle in Los Angeles. That same year, six year old Loretta performed for Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, who was known as one of the wealthiest men in the world at that time.
In the late 1930s, as she walked along Hollywood Boulevard, a cinema marquee advertising the film Suez reportedly stirred ten year old Loretta Luiz to change her name to Laurette Luez. In 1944 Cecil B. DeMille saw one of her headshots and at age 16 she was cast as a fetching Javanese girl in The Story of Dr. Wassell. In October of that year, Luez was featured in Esquire magazine. She signed a five-year contract with 20th Century-Fox in 1945, for a weekly salary of $125. In the late 1940s, she became a highly successful model, appearing in photographs and artwork for national brands such as Lux soap.
In 1949, when she was 21, Luez played the film role for which she is most remembered, the embittered and ruthless Armenian model Marla Rakubian in the film noir drama D.O.A. In 1950 Luez became widely known for supporting roles with Roddy McDowell in Killer Shark and Kim with Errol Flynn, which was the first major motion picture filmed in India. About working with Flynn, Luez said, "Errol and I play our love scenes through the window and do not kiss. But we took stills embracing each other. They asked me if I enjoyed working that way with Errol and I told them it was very, very disturbing, to say the least." That year, Hollywood columnist Jimmy Fidler said Luez had beauty, charisma and ambition but lacked experience as an actor, noting she was taking diction lessons after having been asked to do so by her agent. From this time forward she was cast mostly in ethnic and somewhat erotic character roles in films (a few of which were highly profitable if not critically acclaimed) and on television. In 1953 she appeared in Siren of Bagdad as a dancing slave girl. In 1954 she played a small role in the Bowery Boys film Jungle Gents opposite Huntz Hall's character Sach (her one line was "Kiss, kiss, kiss"). Her last major film credit was in 1963 when she played the cantina girl Felina in Ballad of a Gunfighter with Marty Robbins, drawn from his 1959 hit song "El Paso." Luez left the film industry in 1965.
Richard Koper, Legendary Woman: The Laurette Luez Story.