• 23 June 1929
  •  Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Leigh Snowden


The Tennessee-born Snowden (real name: Martha Lee Estes) was a movie actress and model who first made a splash on the Jack Benny TV show, sashaying across the stage at the San Diego Naval base. Twenty thousand sailors gave the curvy sweater-clad starlet a standing ovation that made headlines in "Variety", and every talent scout in Hollywood was on Snowden's trail the very next morning. Three days later, she was hired to make her film debut in director Robert Aldrich's obtuse crime classic Kiss Me Deadly (1955) (Aldrich expanded her role and gave her featured billing). In January 1955, she signed a seven-year contract with Universal Studios, beginning by playing up her Dixie drawl in their glossy soap opera All That Heaven Allows (1955). Other movies include Francis in the Navy (1955), The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) and the Bridey Murphy-inspired I've Lived Before (1956). In September 1956, Snowden married Dick Contino, a big-name singer/accordion player, and a few years later she retired from acting. Mother to five children from two marriages, she died of cancer at age 51.