Yvette Mimieux, star of The Time Machine, has died

Yvette Mimieux, the blonde and blue-eyed 1960s film star of Where the Boys Are, The Time Machine and Light in the Piazza, has died at her home in Los Angeles.

Michelle Bega, a family spokeswoman, said Mimieux died of natural causes while asleep overnight on Monday night. Mimieux was 80.

In 1960’s The Time Machine, based on the 1895 novel by HG Wells, Mimieux starred opposite Rod Taylor as Weena, a member of the peaceful, fair-haired Eloi people in the year 800,000 unaware that they are being farmed for food by the subterranean Morlocks.

This role, and others that soon followed, made Mimieux one of the brightest starlets of the ’60s. That same year, she also starred in the MGM teen film Where the Boys Are as one of four college students on spring break in Florida. Desperate after being sexually assaulted at a motel, her character drives into traffic despondent.

“I suppose I had a soulful quality,” she told The Washington Post in 1979. “I’ve often been cast as the hurt person, the ‘sensitive’ role.”

Yvette Carmen Mimieux was born on January 8, 1942 in Los Angeles to a French father and a Mexican mother. She was discovered when she was 15 when publicist Jim Byron said he spotted her on a bridle path from a helicopter flying over the Hollywood Hills. She and a friend rode on horseback; Byron landed in front of them and gave her his card. Mimieux started out as a model before MGM signed her in 1959.

“The subtle approach is the thing,” Byron said in 1961. “I think we’ve got another Garbo on our hands.”

And for a few years, Mimieux was ubiquitous. Life magazine put her on the cover with the headline “Warmly Wistful Starlet.” She made eight films before she turned 21.

Mimieux starred in four films in 1962, including Vincent Minnelli’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Guy Green’s Light on the Piazza. In the latter she played the beautiful disabled daughter of Olivia de Havilland. On a trip to Italy, Mimieux’s character, Clara, is pursued in Florence by a young Italian, played by George Hamilton.

Mimieux played a bride in Toys in the Attic (1963), an epileptic surfer in Dr. Kildare (1964) and a bride in Joy in the Morning (1965). She has been nominated for a Golden Globe three times, including for her role in Aaron Spelling’s short-lived ABC series The Most Deadly Game. In the ’70s and ’80s she increasingly appeared in TV films, some of which she co-wrote.

Mimieux co-wrote and co-produced the 1984 CBS TV movie Obsessive Love, about a deranged fan who becomes obsessed with a soap opera star. Mimieux said she had to fight the network for having a woman, played by herself, in such a role. Her idea grew out of John Hinckley’s obsession with Jodie Foster, only with the gender roles reversed.

“The network felt that people would not believe me as this woman. They said to me, ‘She’s a loner and she shouldn’t be attractive,'” Mimieux told the New York Times in 1984. “I asked her, ‘Are you saying that only unattractive people can be crazy or lonely or unfulfilled? Life?'”

Mimieux said television was never the “love affair” she had with film. But she complained about the kind of film roles she was offered, saying they were typically one-dimensional or stereotypical. (One of her last notable films was the 1979 Disney film The Black Hole.) So, in her late 40s, Mimieux retired from show business.

Yvette Mimieux in 1982.

Yvette Mimieux in 1982.

(Doug Pizac/Associated Press)

“I decided I didn’t want to be totally public,” she said. “When the fan magazines started wanting to take pictures of me making sandwiches for my husband, I said no.

“You know, there are tribes in Africa who believe that a camera steals a small part of your soul, and in a way I think that’s true when you live your private life in public. It takes something away from your relationships, it makes them cheaper.”

Mimieux first married Evan Harland Engber in 1959 before later divorcing. She was married to film director Stanley Donen from 1972 to 1985. In 1986, she married real estate mogul Howard F. Ruby, who survives her. Yvette Mimieux, star of The Time Machine, has died

Caroline Bleakley

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