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Sue Lyon death: Actress who starred at age 14 in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita passed away at 73

Actress Sue Lyon
Sue Lyon played Dolores Haze in the film version of Lolita. Pic credit: @ImageCollect.com/Globe-Photos

Sue Lyon, the actress best known for her role in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita, has passed away at the age of 73.

Lyon’s friend, Phil Syracopoulos, confirmed to the New York Times that she died on Thursday in Los Angeles after having been in declining health for some time.

The cause of death was not revealed.

People have been posting glowing tributes on social media.

Sue Lyon bio

Sue Lyon was born in Davenport, Iowa, in July 1946, according to her IMDb page. Her father died when she was only 10 months old. According to Variety, her mother, Sue Karr Lyon, moved her family of five children to Dallas and later Los Angeles where Lyon worked as a model.

Lyon started acting by playing Laurie in The Loretta Young Show (1959) and then having a minor role on the TV show Dennis the Menace (1960).

Sue Lyon’s break came when she co-starred with James Mason in Stanley Kubrick’s controversial 1962 movie, Lolita, at the age of 14.

Lolita was based on the controversial 1955 novel by author Vladimir Nabokov. The novel followed a middle-aged college professor who became infatuated with a 12-year-old girl, Dolores “Lolita” Haze. Nabokov’s novel was banned in the U.K. and France for depicting a pedophile relationship between an adult and a 12-year-old girl. But the book went to become a best-seller.

Stanley Kubrick’s film adaption of the book had to make changes to comply with Motion Picture Production Code requirements, including making Lolita a 15-year-old girl instead of 12.

According to The Daily Mail, Lyon was selected to play Lolita out of more than 800 other girls who auditioned for the role. Author Nabokov described her as “the perfect nymphet” for the role of Lolita.

During her career that spanned two decades, Lyon also appeared as Charlotte Goodall in John Huston’s The Night of the Iguana (1964), alongside Richard Burton, as Emma Clark, in 7 Women (1966), and as Diana Pines, alongside Frank Sinatra, in Tony Rome (1967).

Her last film appearance was in the horror movie Alligator (1980).

She also appeared on the TV shows Fantasy Island, Police Story, and Night Gallery.

In 1963, she won a Golden Globe award for the most promising newcomer in the female category for her role in Lolita.

Sue Lyon was married five times, spending time with filmmaker Hampton Fancher (1963-65), football coach Roland Harrison (1971-1972), Cotton Adamson (1973-74), Edward Weathers (1983-1984), and Richard Rudman (1985-2002).

She is survived by her daughter Nona.


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