Laraine Day: She’s 100 If She’s a Day

Laraine Day (La Raine Johnson, 1921-2007) passed away years ago, but today marks the centenary of her birth.

Day was of Mormon pioneer stock, the fraternal twin of a brother named La Mar. With no experience beyond a little community theatre, at age 17 she was cast in a bit role in Stella Dallas (1937). For the first couple of years she appeared in B westerns opposite George O’Brien using a tweak of her given name professionally, Laraine Johnson. She began using “Day” in 1939. Today she is best known for her prominent role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940) opposite Joel McCrea, but back in the day (hah!) she is was equally well known for playing Mary Lamont in half a dozen Dr. Kildare movies, and the title role in the 1941 remake of The Trial of Mary Dugan.

The pin-up photo above, and appearances in naughty noirs like The Locket (1946) notwithstanding, Day never strayed from the dictates of her Mormon faith, and politically was a conservative Republican, as manifested in her starring role in the fear-mongering I Married a Communist (1949), and her friendship with Ronald Reagan, with whom she had appeared in The Bad Man (1941). From 1948 through 1960 she was married to Leo Durocher, during the period when he was manager of the New York Giants, and she was known for representing the team and baseball in general.

From 1960 on, Day acted mostly on television, on programs like Wagon Train, The F.B.I., Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat. I am a particular fan of the 1975 ABC TV movie Murder on Flight 502, in which she was part of the all-star cast. Her last professional credit was a 1986 episode of Murder She Wrote.