Who is Debra Paget?

Debra Paget is an American actress who gained fame in the ’50s, with roles in classic Hollywood films such as “The Ten Commandments” (1956) and “Love Me Tender” (1956), in which she starred alongside Elvis Presley, in addition to many other roles that she had during her career.

Debra Paget Wiki: Age, Childhood, and Education

Debralee Griffin was born on 19 August 1933, in Denver, Colorado, USA. Her mother, Margaret Allen, was a former actress, and her father, Frank Henry Griffin, was a painter. In the late 1930s the family relocated to Los Angeles, California, to be closer to the burgeoning film industry. At the age of 11, Paget attended the Hollywood Professional School; inspired by their mother, she and her siblings pursued a career in the acting industry.

Career Beginnings and 20th Century Fox

Debra Paget’s career had begun at a young age. At only eight years old, she landed her first professional job, and by the age of 13, she had already gained stage experience in a production of Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in 1946, shortly after which she caught the attention of 20th Century Fox, who signed her.

Debra Paget’s breakthrough in the film industry came with her role in “Cry of the City” (1948), directed by Robert Siodma, portraying Teena Riconti, marking her first notable film role, in a gripping film noir that follows a cop, Lieutenant Candella, played by Victor Mature, as he tracks down a wounded and dangerous criminal, Martin Rome, played by Richard Conte. Paget’s character, Teena Riconti, is the girlfriend of Martin Rome and becomes entangled in the intense and suspenseful narrative.

Following this success, Paget’s first major role for 20th Century Fox was in the film “Broken Arrow” (1950), directed by Delmer Daves, playing Sonseeahray, a Native American maiden. The film centers around the relationship between Tom Jeffords, a former soldier, and Cochise, the Apache leader. Sonseeahray becomes a pivotal figure as she falls in love with Tom Jeffords.

Debra Paget’s rise to stardom continued as she ventured into various media, including radio plays from 1950 to 1956, for Family Theater and Lux Radio Theater.

During this time, Paget also took on notable film roles -in 1951, Paget delivered a captivating performance in the film “Fourteen Hours”. Directed by Henry Hathaway, the movie follows a New York City police officer, played by Paul Douglas, who tries to save a man played by Richard Basehart from jumping off a ledge. Paget was also reunited with Delmer Daves, the director of “Broken Arrow”, in “Bird of Paradise” (1951); the film is a romantic adventure set in Hawaii, which revolves around a love story between a Polynesian prince, played by Louis Jourdan, and a young woman from a rival tribe.

In “Anne of the Indies” (1951), Debra took on the second female lead role, in the film telling the story of a female pirate, played by Jean Peters, who encounters challenges and dangers on the high seas.

Continuing on, she co-starred in the film “Les Miserables” (1952) and then starred with Robert Wagner in two notable films, firstly in “Stars and Stripes Forever” portraying Wagner’s love interest, adding a touch of romance to the biographical film about composer John Philip Sousa. Next, in “Prince Valiant” (1954), Debra starred opposite Wagner as his love interest in this epic adventure film based on the comic strip of the same name.

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Rise to Prominence, work with Elvis Presley

Debra Paget’s career continued to flourish as she took on a range of notable roles in both films and television, collaborating with renowned co-stars and directors.

In 1954, Debra received top billing in “Princess of the Nile”; in this swashbuckling adventure film, co-starring Jeffrey Hunter, Paget played the lead role of a beautiful princess, which follows her character’s journey as she navigates treacherous obstacles and romantic entanglements, showcasing Paget’s charm and allure on the screen.

That same year, Debra had a substantial supporting role in “Demetrius and the Gladiators”, directed by Delmer Daves. The film serves as a sequel to “The Robe” (1953) and continues the story of Demetrius, an enslaved Christian turned gladiator. Paget’s character adds intrigue and romance to the epic tale, as she becomes involved with the gladiator’s struggle for freedom and his quest for justice.

One of Paget’s most memorable roles came in 1956, when she appeared in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic biblical film, “The Ten Commandments”. Debra portrayed Lilia, a water girl who becomes involved in a romantic relationship with Joshua, played by John Derek. The film is a grand-scale retelling of the biblical Exodus story, with Paget’s character contributing to the emotional and dramatic elements of the narrative.

In the same year, Debra starred alongside Elvis Presley in “Love Me Tender”. The film marked Presley’s acting debut, and Paget’s performance as his love interest added to the romantic and dramatic elements of the story. Set during the American Civil War, the film explores themes of love, loyalty, and the challenges of family dynamics. Moreover, sparks were also flying between the two off the set, and according to reports, Presley even proposed marriage.

In 1957, Paget appeared in “The River’s Edge”, her final film for 20th Century Fox. Directed by Allan Dwan, the film follows a young man who becomes entangled in a dangerous love triangle with two women.

Switch to Paramount Pictures and Continued Success

Debra continued her career with Paramount Pictures, starring in “Omar Khayyam” (1957), in which she played the love interest of Cornel Wilde’s character. She also appeared in “From the Earth to the Moon” (1958), a science fiction film that takes viewers on a journey to the moon, highlighting Paget’s versatility as an actress across different genres.

In 1959, Debra traveled to Germany to star in Fritz Lang’s two-part adventure saga, “The Tiger of Eschnapur” and “The Indian Tomb”, then took a break from film roles and made a few notable small-screen appearances, including “Riverboat” (1959), and guest starred in the Western series “Wagon Train”. The following year, she made an appearance in the popular Western series “Rawhide”, and demonstrated her acting skills in another Western “Johnny Ringo”.

Further Success and Retirement

She continued her career in the early ’60s with a number of popular roles. In 1960, Paget appeared in the historical drama “Cleopatra’s Daughter” set in ancient Egypt, revolving around the struggles of Cleopatra’s daughter, played by Paget, as she navigates political intrigue and power struggles in an attempt to claim her rightful place.

The same year, Paget appeared in “Why Must I Die?”, a crime drama telling the story of a man wrongfully accused of murder who must prove his innocence. Paget’s character plays a crucial role in uncovering the truth, and providing support to the protagonist.

Debra also starred in “Most Dangerous Man Alive” in 1961, a science fiction thriller which follows a man who gains superhuman abilities after being struck by a mysterious ray. Paget’s character becomes entangled in the man’s struggle for survival, and plays a significant part in the film’s action-packed plot.

In the same year, Debra appeared in “Rome in 1585”, set in 16th-century Rome, where political intrigue and power struggles abound. Paget’s character becomes embroiled in the conflicts and conspiracies that surround the city.

Paget concluded her film career with two films for American International Pictures in 1963. In “Tales of Terror”, she shared the screen with esteemed actors such as Vincent Price and Peter Lorre in an anthology of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations. Each segment features a chilling and macabre tale, with Paget delivering a memorable performance alongside her co-stars. In “The Haunted Palace”, Paget once again collaborated with Price in the horror film based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Later Life and Work

In 1965, after marrying and starting a family, Debra Paget retired from the entertainment industry, shiftingd her focus to her personal life, embracing her role as a wife and mother.

During this period, Paget underwent a significant spiritual transformation and became a born-again Christian. Faith became an integral part of her life, influencing her values and perspectives. In the early 1990s, she had the opportunity to share her faith with a wider audience by hosting her own show, entitled “An Interlude with Debra Paget”, on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), engaging in discussions and interviews, and sharing her personal experiences, inspiring the viewers.

In recognition of her contributions to the film and television industry, Debra Paget was honored with the Golden Boot Award in 1987 by the Motion Picture and Television Fund. This prestigious award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the development and preservation of the Western tradition in film and television.

In 2016, filmmaker Mark Rappaport paid tribute to Debra Paget in his documentary essay entitled “Debra Paget, For Example”, which delves into her life and career, shedding light on her impact and legacy within the entertainment industry.

Net Worth

According to authoritative sources, Debra Paget’s net worth is estimated at $10 million, as of mid-2023.

Personal Life, Marriage, Husband, Children

Debra has been married and divorced three times. Her first husband was David Street; the two married on 14 January 1958, but divorced on 11 April the same year. Two years later, she married director Budd Boetticher, however, they split after 22 days, and officially divorced the following year. She then married Chinese-American oil industry executive Ling C. Kung, a descendant of Confucious through his father, in 1964. They had a son before they divorced in 1980, since when she seems to have been single, at least officially.

Appearance and Body Measurements

Debra Paget has blue eyes and dark brown hair. She stands at a height of 5ft 2ins (1.57m), weighs approximately 115lbs (52 kg), with vital statistics of 33-24-35, and bra size 35B.

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