Rita Gam, Actress Known for Movies From the 1950s, Dead at 88

Gam. Photo: Paul Hawthorne/2006 Getty Images

Rita Gam, the veteran TV, film, and stage actress known especially for her run of roles in the 1950s, died Tuesday in L.A. The 88-year-old's publicist told THR the cause was respiratory failure. Gam's career began on Broadway, with A Flag Is Born and A Temporary Island, before she broke out as a Hollywood starlet in the early ’50s. The Pittsburgh native went on to notch memorable roles in The Thief, Saadia, Night People, Mohawk, 1959's Hannibal, King of Kings, and Klute, among others flicks; she also appeared on such TV shows as The Jackie Gleason Show, The Rockford Files, and Mannix. Her string of early successes led to a Golden Globe nomination in 1953 for Thief, and in 1962, her turn in No Exit (a.k.a. Sinners Go to Hell) earned her the Berlinale's Silver Bear for Best Actress. Gam, first married to filmmaker Sidney Lumet and then to publisher Thomas Guinzburg, is survived by a daughter and son (from the second marriage), and three grandchildren.