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Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
The multitalented blond performer won the lead actress Oscar for 1950's "Born Yesterday" -- beating out such veterans as Bette Davis for "All About Eve" and Gloria Swanson for "Sunset Boulevard." She reprised her Broadway triumph as Billie Dawn, the "dumb blond" mistress of a wealthy gangster (Broderick Crawford) who isn't quite as dimwitted as she looks. Her best moment was winning cards with boyfriend Harry while humming "I Can't Give You Anything but Love." In real life, Holliday was nothing like her characters -- she had a near-genius IQ and was a voracious reader. After "Born Yesterday," she made several comedies at Columbia in which she played endearing, quirky and eccentric heroines in such films as "The Marrying Kind" and "It Should Happen to You." She took a break from Hollywood when she appeared on Broadway in the 1956 hit musical "Bells Are Ringing." Holliday did the 1960 film version of "Bells." That same year, she began battling breast cancer. Holliday succumbed to the disease in 1965, two weeks shy of her 44th birthday.