Nina Foch; 'Executive Suite' Role Earned Actress Oscar Nomination

Nina Foch also played the wealthy American arts patron Milo Roberts in
Nina Foch also played the wealthy American arts patron Milo Roberts in "An American in Paris." (1951 File Photo)
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By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 12, 2008

Nina Foch, 84, a Hollywood supporting actress best remembered as the cool sophisticate she played in the musical "An American in Paris" and for her Oscar-nominated performance as a secretary mourning her dead boss in "Executive Suite," died Dec. 5 at a Los Angeles hospital of the blood disorder myelodysplasia.

In more than 30 movie appearances, Ms. Foch was rarely a front-ranked star. But in several key roles, the tall blond actress showed great skill, projecting regal bearing with moments of vulnerability.

She was ideally cast as Milo Roberts ("as in Venus de") in "An American in Paris" (1951), directed by Vincente Minnelli and featuring the music of the Gershwin brothers. She portrayed a wealthy American arts patron with a tendency to fall in love with her proteges.

When she appears in a provocative evening grown, a painter played by Gene Kelly asks her, "What holds it up?" Ms. Foch replies in character, "Modesty."

The next year, she played Marie Antoinette in "Scaramouche" (1952) and then achieved greater attention with her role in the all-star drama "Executive Suite" (1954).

After her Oscar nomination, Ms. Foch appeared in minor roles in major productions. She was Bithiah, who finds the baby Moses, in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" (1956) and played the manipulative Helena Glabrus in Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus" (1960).

The Dutch-born actress was an associate director and language consultant to George Stevens on "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1959). She also established herself as a widely respected drama coach at University of Southern California and the American Film Institute.

Nina Consuelo Maud Fock was born April 20, 1924, in the Dutch town of Leyden. Her parents had a brief and tempestuous marriage that made international gossip headlines.

Her father was a Dutch orchestra conductor and her American-born mother, Consuelo Flowerton, modeled for war-bond posters and acted in a few silent films.

Raised in New York, Nina was pushed by her mother into drama school to improve her poise. Her mother's connections also helped smooth her path into Hollywood.

Ms. Foch entered the film industry as a teenager in the mid-1940s in what she later called "crappy B-movies" at Columbia Studios: a series of low-budget scare flicks and dramas.

Her neck was pursued by Bela Lugosi in "The Return of the Vampire" (1944), a Dracula-themed picture set in World War II London, and she played a gangster's moll in "The Dark Past" (1948).

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