British-born Peter Lawford was as famous for his marriages as his films.
Lawford appeared in 57 films, including "Random Harvest," "The White Cliffs of Dover," "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Ocean's 11." His first widespread notice came from a small role in "Mrs. Miniver."
While visiting California in 1938, Lawford played a Cockney boy in "Lord Jeff." His parents were in the United States when war broke out and their funds were frozen. Lawford worked as a parking lot attendant in Florida to pay for a move to Hollywood in 1942. Here he was forced by circumstances to work temporarily as an usher in the Westwood Village Theater, but later signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
His poise, natural charm and athletic good looks made him a bobby-soxers' hero. His film in those early days included "A Yank at Eaton," "Girl Crazy," "Above Suspicion," "Son of Lassie" and "Easter Parade."
Off-screen, he became known as a playboy and jet-setter.
The second half of the the 1950s was a lean period for Lawford in Hollywood. He made no films from 1954 to 1960, and he told an interviewer in 1959 that he had been one of the movie actors who had been regarded as not salable during that period. "The only films available were those low-budget affair set under a bridge—dark, moody things. So I turned to television — that great boon to so many players."
Lawford did well in television with starring roles in the series "Dear Phoebe" and "The Thin Man."
The television exposure seemed to boost his film career, reminding audiences and filmmakers that he was still here. It was in those years that he became a member of Frank Sinatra's "Rat Pack," along with Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr.. All worked to elect John F. Kennedy, the brother of Lawford's wife, Patricia, to whom he was married from 1954 to 1966.
In 1960 he joined with them to make "Ocean's 11." The film's story, of how 11 men try to take over Las Vegas by military strategy so entertained producer Jack Warner that he quipped: "Let's not make the picture — let's pull the job."