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Vera Miles: Hitchcock's Potential Replacement For Grace Kelley

Entertainment | July 25, 2021

Source: (Rotten Tomatoes).

Vera Miles was born Vera June Ralston in Boise City, Oklahoma on August 23, 1929. She was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948; she went on to become the third runner-up in the Miss America pageant. At the pageant, she was signed to a contract with RKO and went to Hollywood, where Howard Hughes sent her to acting classes. An employee of Hughes, Bob Miles, picked her up each morning to take her to class, and they began dating. Later that year, Bob Miles would become her first husband. 

With Gordon Scott in Tarzan's Hidden Jungle. Source: (IMDb).

Marrying Tarzan

By 1952, she began getting better roles, and her first credited role came in The Rose Bowl Story (1952). Two years after landing the role, she divorced Bob Miles. In 1955, she was cast opposite Gordon Scott in Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, where she played Tarzan’s love interest. She married Scott, her costar, in 1956, and she stayed married to him until 1960. 

With Henry Fonda. Source: (themoviedb.org).

Her Work With Hitchcock Begins

In addition to getting married a second time, 1956 was a big year for Miles’ career, as she starred in The Searchers (1956), a John Wayne Western, which is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and which was named the greatest American Western by the American Film Institute in 2008. In the film, she played Laurie Jorgenson, Jeffrey Hunter’s love interest. She also appeared in Wichita, 23 Paces to Baker Street, and The Wrong Man opposite Henry Fonda. In The Wrong Man, a film noir directed by Alfred Hitchcock, she played Rose Balestrero, the wife of Manny Balestrero, played by Henry Fonda. This film, based on the true story of a man who was wrongfully accused of a crime, was Hitchcock’s only film based on a true story. This was not the first time Hitchcock had directed Miles, as she appeared in the role of a new bride in the pilot episode of the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

In Psycho. Source: (IMDb).

The Role She Was Known For

In 1957, she signed a personal contract with Hitchcock and was publicized as Hitchcock’s successor to Grace Kelly. Hitchcock designed Vertigo (1958) with Miles in mind, but Miles got pregnant, and the role went to Kim Novak. He then cast Miles in the role of Lila Crane in Psycho (1960). As the sister of Marion Crane who was killed in the shower scene, this role became the role that Miles was best known for. It was not the final time she would work with Hitchcock, even though she had told him in 1960 that she would not appear in the four pictures that remained in their seven-year contract. She then appeared in two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962 and 1965). Eventually, in 1983, Miles reprised the role of Lila Crane in Psycho II (1983). 

With John Wayne in Hellfighters. Source: (IMDb).

Acting With John Wayne Once Again

She starred in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) with John Wayne and James Stewart; her character, Hallie Stoddard, was pursued by two men competing to marry her. She filmed scenes with John Wayne again in the movie The Green Berets (1968), but her scenes were cut; that same year, she appeared once again with John Wayne in Hellfighters. She was also in the Walt Disney film Follow Me, Boys! (1966).  

In The Searchers. Source: (IMDb).

Television And Retirement

Throughout her acting career, she had many television appearances, including Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Laramie, and The Twilight Zone. She co-starred in the first episode of The Fugitive, the pilot of the series I Spy. She had a supporting role in three episodes of My Three Sons. Her television appearances continued throughout the ‘80s. In the ‘80s, she was in The Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote, and she was in television films throughout her career. She had additional film appearances in the ‘80s, with roles in the movies The Initiation (1984) and Into the Night (1985). Her final film role came with James Belushi in Separate Lives (1995), after which she retired in Palm Desert, California. She did not remarry after her divorce from her fourth husband, Robert Jones, who she married in 1973 and divorced in 1975.

In 2012, Jessica Biel portrayed her in the film Hitchcock. However, Biel did not meet Miles as she is very private, instead, talking to her grandson to gain insight into who Miles was when Psycho was filmed. 

Tags: Alfred Hitchcock | Vera Miles

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Linda Speckhals

Writer

When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.