Thursday, October 22, 2009

She's got somethin' to say...

Collin Wilcox Paxton, best known for her star turn as a "rape victim" in 1962's 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' died Oct. 14 of brain cancer at her home in Highlands, N.C. She was 74.

Wilcox Paxton began her acting career on the stage in Chicago as part of an improvisational group that included Mike Nichols, Elaine May and Shelley Berman, then moved on to Broadway, where she starred in 'The Day Money Stopped' opposite Richard Basehart. That 1958 production won her the Clarence Derwent Award for best supporting actress. She also starred opposite such grand dames of the stage as Tallulah Bankhead ('Crazy October') Geraldine Page ('Strange Interlude') and Ruth Gordon ('La Bonne Soup').

Her big-screen debut came in the adaptation of Harper Lee's 'Mockingbird,' where she played the white-trash girl who falsely accused Brock Peters' character of rape. After that once-in-a-lifetime role, Wilcox Paxton moved to television, where she guest-starred in a host of series including 'Dr. Kildare,' 'The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,' 'The Defenders,' 'The Twilight Zone,' 'Playhouse 90,' 'Death Valley Days' and 'Columbo.'

Wilcox Paxton's heart belonged to the stage, however, and she left Hollywood in 1981 to return to Highland, where she met and married Scott Paxton and founded the Highlands Studio for the Arts. She briefly returned to Hollywood in the 1990s and appeared in the 'Christy' TV series, as well as 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,' among other roles.

In addition to her husband, Wilcox Paxton is survived by her children Kimberley and Michael.
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