“The Creature Walks Among Us” would be the third and final installment of The Creature franchise and ultimately the classic Universal Monsters franchise. Leigh Snowden, a small town girl from Tennessee, would become the last actress to star as the female lead in a Universal Monsters movie.
Leigh Snowden was born Martha Lee Estes on June 23, 1929 in Covington, Tennessee. She sang in a church choir in her younger years and would go on to graduate from Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee. After she graduated, Snowden moved to California to become an actress. The move would work in her favor when she was part of a Jack Benny Christmas program being televised from the San Diego Naval Base. All she did was walk across the stage, waving to the sailors in the audience. It was reported that the next morning, countless phone calls started coming in from various studios trying to sign her to motion picture contracts. Universal Studios won the bidding war and Snowden was introduced with such stars as Clint Eastwood and James Garner.
Leigh Snowden’s acting career was brief, but she co-starred with some Hollywood heavyweights. In 1955’s All That Heaven Allows, she was cast among marquee names such as Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman and Agnes Moorehead. In that same year, she appeared in The Square Jungle starring Tony Curtis, Pat Crowley and Ernest Borgnine. The next year, 1956, she would star in the last Creature film and what would ultimately be the last classic Universal Monsters movie, The Creature Walks Among Us starring Ricou Browning. Her career would not ask much longer as her last on-screen role of that time would be in an episode of the television show Tightrope in 1960. She would make a return to acting but on stage in the Fresno Community Theater’s production of the Tennessee Williams play, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Snowden passed away on may 16, 1982 in Hollywood from cancer. She was 52 years old. She married Dick Contino in 1956 and remained married until her death. They had five children together.
Leigh Snowden’s life and career was short, but it put her in the company of great talents. Her beauty was enough to make anyone, man or creature, swoon. She had classic beauty and was another chapter in the small-town-girl-goes-to-Hollywood story. Snowden would be the last actress to be terrorized by the Gill-Man, who became more man than Creature.
(Joe Grodensky – @JoeGrodensky)