Sam Spade’s (and William Spider’s) indispensable lady.
Producer William Spider would feel lost without petite, titian-haired Lurene Tuttle, who plays Effie Perrine on The Adventures of SamSpade (CBS, Sundays, 8 P.M., EDT).
It isn’t just that Effie as played by Miss Tuttle, is a special kind of Girl Friday- it’s Lurene’s ability to play almost any kind of feminine role. When every the script calls for a gun moll, a slinky confidence woman, a grandmother, an adventuress, a Main Line debutante, it’s Lurene’s name that Bill Spier pencils in for the part. Actually, Lurene’s favorite part on the show is not that of Effie, but Spade’s talkative landlady. There’s scarcely a radio program on which Lurene hasn’t been heard, but she’s no radio Cinderella. She came to radio as a stage actress seasoned by seven years of trouping in stock. She played her first part-at seventeen- in a Burbank, California, garage. And for a considerable period, she was a pillar of the Pasadena Play-house group.
Lurene was born with actor’s blood in her veins. Her father, O.V. Tuttle, was a minstrel man and her ninety-year-old grandfather, Frank Tuttle, taught dramatics in college and at one time managed the opera house in Angola, Indiana. From the time she was five Lurene wanted to be an actress, and her first appearance was a ring-bearer in a minstrel show.
The Hoosier-born trouper has always had a soft spot in her heart for her home state. And she frequently returns to Indiana to visit her family at Pleasant Lake. The home folks have been able to see as well as hear their favorite actress since 1947. For in that year she made her screen debut as a featured player in “Heaven Only Knows” with Robert Cummings, Brian Donlevy and Marjorie Reynolds.
Orson Welles afterward featured her in his “Macbeth” and then she was cast as Girl Friday to Cary Grant in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.” Only her many radio billings prevent her from appearing in more movies.
An actress all her life, Lurene Tuttle, still “dies several deaths” before each performance, but once she’s made her entrance on a movie sound stage or steps to mike, she forgets herself in the part she is playing. Right now she teaches a class in acting at the University of Southern California. At home her chief interest is her teen-age daughter, Barbara, who yearns to follow in her mother’s footsteps. The firl is already developing into a promising singer with an unusual style.