Gertrude Michael

Lillian Gertrude Michael (June 1, 1911 – December 31, 1964) was an American film, stage and television actress.

Gertrude Michael
Gertrude Michael in July 1935
Lillian Gertrude Michael

(1911-06-01)June 1, 1911
DiedDecember 31, 1964(1964-12-31) (aged 53)
Resting placeChapel of the Pines Crematory
Years active1932–1961


The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl H. Michael,[1] she was born in Talladega, Alabama. She graduated from Talladega High school at the age of 14.[2] She became a singer on the radio.

Michael attended the University of Alabama, where she studied law, and Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, pursuing a study of music. Then she went to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music to continue studying music. Her work there earned her a scholarship for studying five years in Italy.[2]

Her childhood home in Talladega, Alabama was destroyed by fire in 2007.

In 1929 in Cincinnati she made her stage debut in the Stuart Walker stock theater company.[1] She subsequently appeared on Broadway in Rachel Crothers' Caught Wet (1931). She entered the movies playing Richard Arlen's fiancée in Wayward (1932), but her best-remembered role is probably either as Rita Ross in Murder at the Vanities (1934), one of the last pre-Code films, in which she sang an ode to marijuana (Sweet Marijuana) or as Alica Hatton, the snooty society girl in the Mae West comedy I'm No Angel (1933).

Among her television appearances, Michael was seen eleven times on Fireside Theater between 1950-1955 and three times on Schlitz Playhouse. She also made a guest appearance on Perry Mason in 1958 as Helen Rucker in "The Case of the Sun Bather's Diary."

She had an affair with writer Paul Cain (aka Peter Ruric). After they broke up, Cain wrote the role of the alcoholic lover (based on Michael) in his only novel published during his lifetime, Fast One.[3]

Michael died, aged 53, from undisclosed causes, in Beverly Hills, California.




  • Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (3 episodes, 1952–1957) - the Duchess
  • Crown Theatre with Gloria Swanson (1 episode, 1954) - Lisa Jenssen
  • Cavalcade of America (1 episode, 1953) - Major Pauline Cushman
  • Meet Corliss Archer (1 episode, 1954) - Mrs. Wilson
  • The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse (1 episode, 1954) - Coralee
  • Private Secretary (1 episode, 1954) - Hollywood Star
  • The Ford Television Theatre (1 episode, 1954) - Belle
  • Four Star Playhouse (1 episode, 1955) - Fanny
  • Cameo Theatre (1 episode, 1955)
  • The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1 episode, 1957) - Joyce Fenton
  • The 20th Century-Fox Hour (1 episode, 1957) - Kate
  • Perry Mason (1 episode, 1958) - Helen Rucker
  • Sea Hunt (1 episode, 1961) - Mrs. Friedrich


  1. Smith, Hugh Frank (February 19, 1933). "Beck Michael Makes Advance in Screen Work". The Anniston Star. Alabama, Anniston. p. 7. Retrieved June 18, 2016 via
  2. Williams, Whitney (December 16, 1934). "A New Queen Rules Movie Melodrama". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. p. 63. Retrieved June 18, 2016 via
  3. Cain, Paul; Dralyuk, Boris; Deutsch, Keith Alan (December 17, 2013). The Paul Cain Omnibus: Every Crime Story and the Novel Fast One as Originally Published. ISBN 9789049980689.
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