Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Olson was signed to a film contract by Paramount Pictures in 1948 and after a few films in which she played supporing roles, producers began to consider her for more prominent roles. She was considered for the role of Delilah in Cecil B. De Mille's 1950 film Samson and Delilah, a role which Olson later said she was not suited for, and when she was passed over in favour of Hedy Lamarr, Billy Wilder signed her for his upcoming project. In Sunset Boulevard she played Betty Schaefer, a down-to-earth character, who contrasted with the other eccentric and cynical characters, and she received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her pairing with William Holden was considered a success, and she appeared opposite him in several films during the 1950s, but none of them repeated their earlier success.
She married the lyricist Alan Jay Lerner in 1950 and did not seriously follow her acting career. They divorced in 1957 and Olson attempted to further her career, but was unsuccessful. The Absent Minded Professor (1960) and Son of Flubber (1961) paired her with Fred MacMurray and were popular with movie-goers, but after this her career stalled and she moved to New York where she appeared on Broadway. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s she played guest roles on television, and has been retired since the mid 1980s, although she made a brief, uncredited cameo appearance in the 1997 re-make of The Absent Minded Professor titled Flubber.
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