Yvette Mimieux, the iconic actress of the 1960s and 70s in films like Where the Boys Are, The Time Machine, Light in the Piazza, and Dark of the Sun, passed away in her sleep early Tuesday morning. She was 80.
Yvette Carmen Mimieux, born on January 8, 1942, led an illustrious film career, appearing in eight films before turning 21. Her father was a French immigrant who dabbled in movies before moving to the United States, and her mother was originally from Mexico before they moved to California. She was discovered in the Hollywood Hills while horseback riding by publicist and manager Jim Byron, who told her to call him if she was interested in a film career. After taking dancing and singing lessons and performing in her local theater, MGM signed her for a seven-year contract in 1959.
In 1964, she was believed to be the first woman to show her navel on television when she guest-starred in an episode of Dr. Kildare as a surfer.
Mimieux’s early film roles were in Where the Boys Are (1960), MGM’s glossy teen movie, where she plays a coed who joins her friends in Fort Lauderdale to find fun and the right boy. Another was her role of Weena, a peaceful love interest living in the year 802,701. She would continue getting cast in roles with similar themes: Sensitive, doting love interests. She described her distaste for these roles in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: “They have no complexity in their lives. It’s all surface. There’s nothing to play. They’re either sex objects or vanilla pudding.”
Mimieux combatted these tropes in her writing career. First with 1974’s Hit Lady, a TV movie about an emotionless assassin, and then with Obsessive Love in 1984, where she starred as a psychotic soap opera fan. She wanted to write her characters “like an onion, layers upon layers, multifaceted, interesting, desirable, manipulative.” She also put these ideas in her performances and garnered praise for her portrayal of Clara in Light in the Piazza and was given critical acclaim for her gritty performance in Jackson County Jail.
While she acted full-time, she also studied archaeology at UCLA and sold real estate after retiring from acting.
Mimieux was very particular about her privacy and believed that if she kept her privacy intact, her happiness would remain as well. Her husband, Howard Ruby, survives her and will maintain her privacy by not holding a memorial service.