Lori Martin


18/04/1947 (74 years old)

Lori Martin was a child actress who went from commercials to a career in film and television drama. Born Dawn Catherine Menzer in 1947, she was one of four children of Russell and Dora May Menzer (her father was a set designer at Warner Bros.) and wanted to be an actress from early childhood. She made her professional debut in a commercial under her own name in 1954 and was busy for the remainder of the decade, later appearing on such television series as Medic, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train, Leave It to Beaver, and Trackdown. She also played small roles in two movies, The FBI Story and Machine Gun Kelly (all billed as Dawn Menzer), before getting a series of her own, as Velvet Brown in the NBC's version of National Velvet, for which producer Robert Maxwell gave her the name Lori Martin. The series ended up running for two seasons (until 1962). Martin made the transition to teenage ingénue roles, including a good performance in J. Lee Thompson's original version of Cape Fear (1962) as Gregory Peck's daughter. That should have been enough to get her more movie work, but somehow the films and roles were there. She did lots of one-shots on TV in series like Sam Benedict, The Donna Reed Show, Mickey, Slattery's People, and Breaking Point, and two separate stints four years apart on My Three Sons, before eventually fading out of the business in 1970. Martin's performance in a 1967 episode of Please Don't Eat the Daisies as a predatory drama student with romantic designs on Mark Miller's married college professor was a change of pace, and she closed out her movie career in 1968 with David Commons' The Angry Breed. Her work as the virginal daughter of decadent agent William Windom and his dissolute wife (Jan Sterling) was notable for its provocative nature -- the scene of the bikini-clad Martin being rescued from a gang of would-be rapists on the beach by laconic veteran Murray MacLeod was a highlight of Commons' deliriously bizarre account of new and old Hollywood and a long, long way from her pony-tailed horseback riding days on National Velvet.