Virginia Leith The Brain that Wouldn't Die
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American International Pictures

The Brain That Wouldn't Die star Virginia Leith dead at 94

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Nov 13, 2019

Actress Virginia Leith, who starred in the 1962's The Brain That Wouldn't Die, has passed away at the age of 94. Her death happened on Nov. 4 at her home in Palm Springs, and was announced by longtime family spokesperson Jane Chalmers, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Born in Cleveland in 1925, Leith worked as a hatcheck girl and waitress before making the transition to modeling. It was during a cover shoot for Look magazine that she met a young Stanley Kubrick. Working as a photographer at the time, Kubrick soon gave Leith her feature film debut in his first production, Fear and Desire

While this led to a variety of roles throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, she's perhaps best remembered as Jane in the Pan in the low-budget camp classic The Brain That Wouldn't Die. After her character gets decapitated in a car wreck, her deranged scientist fiance recovers her head and brings it back to life in his lab while he waits to find her the perfect new body. 

Prior to her iconic role, Leith appeared in a number of film noir classics, including Violent Saturday and A Kiss Before Dying

Leith married Hee-Haw star Donald Harron in 1960, which lead to a hiatus from acting. She returned to several supporting roles in network dramas like Starsky and Hutch and Baretta. Over the years, it was reported she was romantically involved with everyone from James Dean and Marlon Brando to Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. 

She's survived by her daughter, Mary Harron, who carved her own path in showbusiness, including directing the 2000 horror/satire American Psycho


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