Karen Steele

Karen Steele

Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA
Death 12 Mar 1988 (aged 56)
Kingman, Mohave County, Arizona, USA
Burial Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown
Memorial ID 32818368 · View Source
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Karen Steele was an American actress and model with over 60 roles in film and television. Her most famous roles include starring as Virgina in the movie "Marty" (1955), as Mrs. Lane in the movie "Ride Lonesome" (1959) and as Eve McHuron in the TV "Star Trek episode - Mudd's Women" (1966). Karen was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Percy Davis Steele, a Bostonian of English descent and a career U.S. Marine who in 1956 was named assistant administrator of the Marshall Islands. Her mother was the former Ruth Covey Merritt a Californian of French and Danish heritage and a society girl and former Oakland newpaper woman, who spent a year to study at the Sorbonne in Paris. Childhood in the Hawaiian Islands brought Karen Steele into contact with the Japanese and Polynesian languages as well as English. She attended the University of Hawaii and was a touch football halfback and studied acting at Rollins College in Florida for a year. After that, she found work as a cover girl and model.

Karen Steele reportedly earned her first money by spearing baby sharks in the private cove on the estate of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Her first acting job was in a radio play titled "Let George Do It." In 1954 she goes to Hollywood. In the same year she was designated "Squadron Dream Girl" by officers and men of the 935th Air Force Reserve Squadron, North Hollywood. On Dec. 7, 1954 she recalled December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, 13 years earlier, as though it just happened. She was there and was eight years old. Karen said, "There were dead people all around. They were our neighbors - it's a horrible memory and - the worst part of it is, if we are not careful, it could happen again." That same year she appeared in the 1953 films "The Clown" (in an uncredited role) and "Man Crazy" (as Marge). The following year she landed the role of Millie Darrow in "So False and So Fair" on the television anthology "Studio 57." Her first critically acclaimed film was "Marty" (1955). She played Virginia and reportedly got the part because the director, Delbert Mann, confused her with an actress from New York who he and writer Paddy Chayevsky had intended to play it. In June of 1956 she is queen of the ball at the El Toro Rodeo in Southern California. In 1959 she played opposite Randolph Scott and Pernell Roberts as "Mrs. Lane" in the western movie "Ride Lonesome."


Like many actresses, as she got older she turned to TV commercials for income. She also became involved in charitable causes and community service. In early 1970 during the Vietnam War she went on a handshake tour of service hospitals in the South Pacific. She turned down a series that would have brought her $78,000 in order to make the trip and in the process lost her agent. She said at the time: "This was one commitment I had to make." In another 1970 quote - Steele was quoted as saying: "I'm a little like Katharine Hepburn, I guess I'll probably be a bachelor girl all my life. I want to live the way I like. A lot of people in this town just don't understand me. They think I'm putting them on. They don't believe me when I tell them I'd rather spend 17 hours talking to General Westmoreland than exchanging amenities at some Hollywood party."

In later life she settled in Golden Valley, Arizona and married Dr. Maurice Boyd Ruland, a psychiatrist at the Mohave Mental Health Clinic in 1973. They were married until she died, at age 56, at the Kingman Regional Medical Center in Kingman, Arizona. A private cremation was arranged. Karen Steele had no children and her husband Dr. Ruland died at age 82 in 1999.

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  • Created by: Douglas Kirk Sorensen
  • Added: 10 Jan 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 32818368
  • Malcolm James
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Karen Steele (20 Mar 1931–12 Mar 1988), Find a Grave Memorial no. 32818368, ; Maintained by Douglas Kirk Sorensen (contributor 46956932) Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.