Actress Gail Gerber Dies of Lung Cancer at Age 76

Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 01:49 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Actress Gail Gerber, a vivacious blonde known for her beach party movies of the 1960s, died due to complications from lung cancer on Saturday in Salisbury, Conn. She was 76.

The Canadian-born actress appeared opposite of Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes in such films as "The Girls on the Beach," "Girl Happy," and "Beach Ball."

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Gerber appeared alongside Beau Bridges and Tisha Sterling as a terrible teenager terrorizing a small town in the 1965 movie "Village of the Giants." One year later, Gerber took a long hiatus from cinema after marrying Oscar-nominated screenwriter Terry Southern, who co-wrote the films "Easy Rider," "Dr. Strangelove," and "The Cincinnati Kid."

The couple subsequently moved to the Berkshires in Connecticut where they tended to a 200-year-old farmhouse for the next 30 years, during which time Gerber taught ballet. Prior to acting, Gerber studied ballet since the age of 7. At 15 she became the youngest member of Les Grandes Ballets Canadiennes in Montreal, Variety.com reported.

In 1995, Southern died from respiratory failure at the age of 71. Following Southern's death, Gerber relocated to New York City where she reportedly worked as a secretary for her late husband's trust, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Prior to her 1960s beach films, Gerber had worked as an actress in Toronto, where she appeared in both stage and TV shows through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Gerber also appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Wayne and Schuster Show" in a series of vaudeville acts in the 1950s and early 1960s.

In 2008, Gerber returned to film playing an old woman in the movie "Lucky Days," and in the avant-garde film "River of Fundament" in 2012, which was her last role.

She is survived by her stepfather, Karl.

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