Sue Lyon, Star of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Lolita,’ Dies at 73

Actress also appeared in “Tony Rome” (1967) and “Evel Knievel” (1971) among other films

Last Updated: December 27, 2019 @ 7:11 PM

Sue Lyon, the actress who at age 14 starred as the title character in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of “Lolita,” died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 73.

Lyon had been in failing health for some time, her friend Phil Syracopoulos told The New York Times.

Born Suellyn Lyon in 1946 in Iowa, Lyon’s family moved to Los Angeles when she was a small child. As a teenager, she began acting in small television roles, including an appearance on “The Loretta Young Show” that brought her to Kubrick’s attention. She was subsequently cast in “Lolita” at 14 in part because the filmmakers aged the character up from 12, as in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel. Upon release, Lyon was catapulted to stardom, and she won the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer — Female for her performance, which had her acting alongside James Mason, Shelley Winters, and Peter Sellers, some of the era’s biggest stars. Lyon also recorded two songs for the film — “Lolita Ya Ya” and “Turn Off the Moon.”

Lyon worked frequently in the years immediately following “Lolita.” Her credits from the era also include “The Night of the Iguana,” portraying a mission worker in China in “7 Women,” John Ford’s final film, the lead actress in the 1967 comedy “The Flim-Flam Man,” a supporting role in the 1967 Frank Sinatra film “Tony Rome, and a co-starring role in 1971’s “Evel Knievel.”

Her career slowed down in the 1970s and she retired from acting after her final film role in the cult hit “Alligator” in 1980.

She was married five times. Her first husband was actor-screenwriter Hampton Fancher, from 1963-65. She was married to Roland Harrison from 1971-72, Cotton Adamson from 1973-74, Edward Weathers from 1983-84, and Richard Rudman from 1985-2002). She is survived by her daughter with Harrison, Nona, according to the Times.

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