May Britt

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May Britt
BornMaybritt Wilkens
(1933-03-22) 22 March 1933 (age 79)
Lidingö, Sweden
OccupationActress
Years active1952–1988
Spouse

Edwin Gregson (m. 1958–1959) «start: (1958)–end+1: (1960)»"Marriage: Edwin Gregson to May Britt" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Britt) (divorced)
Sammy Davis, Jr. (m. 1960–1968) «start: (1960)–end+1: (1969)»"Marriage: Sammy Davis, Jr. to May Britt" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Britt) (divorced) 1 child

Lennart Ringquist (m. 1993) «start: (1993)»"Marriage: Lennart Ringquist to May Britt" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Britt)
 
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May Britt
BornMaybritt Wilkens
(1933-03-22) 22 March 1933 (age 79)
Lidingö, Sweden
OccupationActress
Years active1952–1988
Spouse

Edwin Gregson (m. 1958–1959) «start: (1958)–end+1: (1960)»"Marriage: Edwin Gregson to May Britt" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Britt) (divorced)
Sammy Davis, Jr. (m. 1960–1968) «start: (1960)–end+1: (1969)»"Marriage: Sammy Davis, Jr. to May Britt" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Britt) (divorced) 1 child

Lennart Ringquist (m. 1993) «start: (1993)»"Marriage: Lennart Ringquist to May Britt" Location: (linkback://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Britt)
For the Swedish actress, see Maj-Britt Nilsson.

May Britt (born 22 March 1933[1]) is a Swedish actress who had a brief career in the 1950s in Italy and later in the United States. She retired from the screen after she married Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1960.

Contents

Career

Maybritt Wilkens, as she was known originally, was discovered by Italian film-makers Carlo Ponti and Mario Soldati in 1951. She was an assistant to a Stockholm photographer. The two Italians were in Sweden to cast a young blonde woman for the title role in Jolanda, the Daughter of the Black Corsair. They came to the studio where she worked to view photographs of models. After meeting her, they offered her the part. May Britt, as she was renamed professionally, immediately moved to Rome. As expected, she made her movie debut as the leading actress in Jolanda, the Daughter of the Black Corsair (1952). In the following years she worked in some ten Cinecittà productions. She also featured in the epic War and Peace film of 1956.

In the late 1950s, Britt relocated to Hollywood after signing with 20th Century Fox. She starred in a few movies, including The Young Lions with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift and Murder, Inc. (1960) with Peter Falk, as well as a much-criticized remake of The Blue Angel (1959) in the legendary role first created by Marlene Dietrich in 1930.

Marriage and retirement

She met Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1959. They began dating, and, after a brief engagement, were married on November 13, 1960. Their wedding caused controversy. A rumor or myth, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy told Frank Sinatra to tell Davis not to marry May until after the 1960 Presidential Election. At that time interracial marriage was forbidden by law in 31 U.S. states, and only in 1967 were those laws (by then down to 17 states) ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to the wedding, Britt converted to Judaism.[2] The couple was married by Rabbi William Kramer.

Once married, Britt left the movies. She and Davis had one natural child, a daughter, Tracey, born July 5, 1961, and adopted two sons: Mark Sidney Davis, born in 1960 and adopted June 4, 1963, and Jeff, named after actor Jeff Chandler, and born in 1963.

They divorced in 1968 after Davis reportedly had an affair with dancer Lola Falana. After the divorce, Britt resumed working with sporadic TV guest appearances, the last in 1988. Since then she has been retired and mainly involved in painting. She currently resides in California with her third husband, Lennart Ringquist.

In popular culture

May Britt was portrayed by Megan Dodds in the 1998 TV film The Rat Pack, which depicted her marriage to Sammy Davis, Jr., played by Don Cheadle.

Selected filmography

Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
1952Jolanda, the Daughter of the Black CorsairJolandaAlternative title: Jolanda la figlia del corsaro nero
1953Fatal DesireSantuzzaAlternative title: Cavalleria rusticana
1954Vergine modernaClaudia BardiAlternative title: Modern Virgin
1955L'ultimo amanteMaria
1956War and PeaceSonia Rostova
1958The Young LionsGretchen Hardenberg
1958The HuntersKristina Abbott
1959The Blue AngelLola-Lola
1960Murder, Inc.Eadie Collins
1977HauntsIngridAlternative title: The Veil
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1968The Danny Thomas HourAnna1 episode
1969Mission: ImpossibleEva Gollan1 episode
1971The Most Deadly GameLili1 episode
The Partners1 episode
1988ProbeHelga1 episode

References

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0110067/
  2. ^ "May Britt Joins Jewish Faith", The New York Times, 18 October 1960, p. 46

External links