Carol Ohmart

Armelia Carol Ohmart (June 3, 1927 – January 1, 2002),[1] known professionally as Carol Ohmart, was an American actress and former model who appeared in numerous films and television series from the early 1950s until the 1970s. Over the duration of her career, she would appear in several notable horror and film noirs, including lead roles in The Wild Party (1956) and William Castle's House on Haunted Hill (1959).

Carol Ohmart
Carol Ohmart House on Haunted Hill screenshot.png
Ohmart in House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Armelia Carol Ohmart

(1927-06-03)June 3, 1927[1]
DiedJanuary 1, 2002(2002-01-01) (aged 74)
  • Actress
  • model
Years active1950 – 1974
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)[2]
Ken Grayson
(m. 1949; annulled 1951)
(m. 1956; div. 1958)
William Traberth
(m. 1978)

Born to a Mormon family in Salt Lake City, Ohmart spent most of her early life in Seattle and Spokane, Washington. After graduating high school, she returned to Utah where she won the title of Miss Utah, and subsequently placed fourth in the Miss America pageant. Her appearance in pageants led to modeling work, which included posing for artist Milton Caniff.

Ohmart made her feature film debut in Michael Curtiz's The Scarlet Hour in 1956, followed by various television appearances, as well as roles in several horror films, such as House on Haunted Hill (1959) and Spider Baby (1968). Her final film appearance was in The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe (1974), after which she formally retired from acting, dedicating her time to studying New Age philosophy and spiritualism. Ohmart spent the majority of her later life in Seattle, before dying of natural causes in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2002, aged 74. Michael Curtiz once said of her, "She is unusual, superior, quiet, has buried emotion. She is a girl who is searching for something."

Early lifeEdit

Milton Caniff draws Steve Canyon's "Copper Calhoon", with Ohmart as his model (1947)[4]
Milton Caniff with Ohmart, 1947

Ohmart was born Armelia Carol Ohmart on June 3, 1927,[1] in Salt Lake City, Utah, into a Mormon family. Her parents were C. Thomas Ohmart, a dentist who was first a professional actor, and his wife, Armelia Ohmart. Her family relocated to Seattle, Washington, shortly after Ohmart's birth.[i] At age twelve, Ohmart sang on KFRC in San Francisco, California. She also sang on KSL, KUTA and KDYL in her hometown of Salt Lake City. Additionally, she sang with dance bands, including that of Jan Garber, as a teenager.[6]

She was raised primarily in Washington state, though she briefly attended East High School in Salt Lake City, later graduating from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington.[7] After graduating high school, Ohmart returned to Utah with her mother, and in 1946, won the Miss Utah pageant.[6][8] She then placed fourth in the Miss America pageant.[9]

Ohmart's work in pageants led to several modeling jobs in 1947, during which time Ohmart became a model for the character "Copper Calhoun" in Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon comic strip.[4] Ohmart would serve as a model for numerous illustrations for Caniff, and was featured in a 1947 profile in Popular Photography.[10]



Ohmart was seen on early television doing commercials, appearing on NBC's Bonny Maid Versatile Varieties[11] (1949–51), which aired Friday nights at 9 p.m. Ohmart was seen pitching floor wax along with Anne Francis and Eva Marie Saint, the other two hosts of the show.[12] She also worked on The 20th Century Fox Hour.[13][self-published source]

Ohmart moved to New York in 1955 where she worked as an understudy on Broadway. She had steady work in television until the early 1970s, with guest roles in Bat Masterson, Ripcord, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Get Smart, Perry Mason, Tombstone Territory, and Barnaby Jones.[citation needed]


Dubbed a "female Brando" by the press,[11] Paramount Pictures signed her in 1955 and promoted her as the next Marilyn Monroe.[14] Ohmart had top billing in The Scarlet Hour, a Paramount film made by the distinguished director Michael Curtiz about a married woman who persuades her lover to commit a jewelry robbery.[2] Ohmart recalled of the film: "It was the wrong vehicle to launch me as a star. Frank Tashlin, one of the film's three screenwriters, told me that it had been earlier turned down by Barbara Stanwyck. Foolishly, Paramount let its new leading lady portray a lush, an adulteress wife and a suicide by the film's end."[2] After nearly $2 million spent promoting her, Ohmart was released from her seven-year contract. She co-starred with Anthony Quinn in a 1956 crime drama, The Wild Party.[15]

After marrying Wayde Preston, she briefly retired from acting, only to return a year later in films and television. Producer Jack Warner offered her a supporting role in Born Reckless (1958). Although she did not like the script, she took the role. One of her most noted roles was in William Castle's House on Haunted Hill (1959), playing a murderous wife.[12] In 1962, she returned to New York City to appear in an off-Broadway production titled Banderol.[2] This was followed by a supporting part in the Denis Sanders-directed One Man's Way (1964).[2]

Ohmart took a hiatus from appearing in films for several years, selling real estate and becoming involved in studying spiritualism, and ended up in debt.[2] In 1967, she appeared in the exploitation film Caxambu!, followed by a lead role in the cult horror film Spider Baby; according to director Jack Hill, Ohmart was enthusiastic about the project, asking, "Do you think we can win an Academy Award for this?" Her last film role was in 1974's The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe.[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Ohmart married three times, most notably to actor Wayde Preston. They wed in 1956, and were divorced in 1958.[16] Her first marriage, in 1949, was to actor Ken Grayson; it was annulled in 1951.[16] In 1978, she married William Traberth in Wyoming, a veteran and former firefighter, and retired in Sequim, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.[2] She changed her name to Kariomar S. Traberth, taking her husband's surname, and was guarded about her private life.[2]

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, Ohmart dedicated much of her time studying spiritualism and New Age philosophy, which served as a basis for various poems and short stories she wrote.[2] Around 1973, while filming an episode of Barnaby Jones in Los Angeles, Ohmart was attacked and beaten by three men on a street in Hollywood.[2] After being discharged from the hospital over her injuries, Ohmart was prescribed pain killers, which marked the beginnings of a years-long addiction to prescription medication.[2]

In 1989, Ohmart agreed to be the subject of an extensive profile in the Los Angeles Times.[2] In the profile, Ohmart revealed that she had an estranged relationship with her mother, who did not know of her daughter's whereabouts for the last ten years of her life, up until her death in 1987. Ohmart recalled:

Until I became of legal age, I was terrorized. It was hammered into me that God's command was to love your mother or God will kill you... I forgave her, but I haven't forgotten. How could I? I tried to be a dutiful daughter, I wrote her all those (hundreds of) letters, but she never let me live my own life. She tried to live through me. I appreciated her supporting me during the lean years, but she wasn't doing it for me, it was for her own selfish ends, to keep me taking orders. She controlled my life.[2]


Ohmart died in Fort Collins, Colorado, on January 1, 2002, aged 74, of natural causes.[17] She was cremated, and her ashes scattered over Carter Lake in Loveland, Colorado.[17]


Ohmart has been regarded as a talented actress, being referred to as "a female Brando" in reference to Marlon Brando by writer James Bacon of the Associated Press. In discussing The Scarlet Hour, David Bongard of the Herald Express wrote that "Carol Ohmart is the sultry boss's wife. She has an amazing physical resemblance, in some angles, to Barbara Stanwyck. Obviously she's Curtiz's Galatea in the acting field. If the material weren't so childish and over-dramatic, she might have made a bull's-eye with this. She soon might be capable of the stuff of a Stanwyck or a Bette Davis."[18]

The New York Times referred to her performance in One Man's Way as "quite effective".

In reviewing Spider Baby, David Cairns stated that "Carol Ohmart excels as the nasty heir, intent on kicking the freaks out of their decaying mansion."


Year Title Role Notes
1956 The Scarlet Hour Pauline 'Paulie' Nevins
1956 The Wild Party Erica London
1958 Born Reckless Liz
1959 House on Haunted Hill Annabelle Loren
1959 The Scavengers Marion Allison
1960 Wild Youth Madge Also known as: Naked Youth
1962 The Red Uncle Short film
1964 One Man's Way Evelyn Grace
1967 Spider Baby Emily Howe
1967 Caxambu! Peggy Garrat
1974 The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe Lisa Grimaldi


  1. ^ Public records for King County, Washington, show Armelia Carol Ohmart, age 2, a resident of Seattle.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Barrios, Gregg (January 8, 1989). "Rediscovering the Last Starlet : A mysterious phone call leads to Carol Ohmart". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  3. ^ "Carol Ohmart – The Private Life and Times of Carol Ohmart. Carol Ohmart Pictures". Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "1947 Photo Cartoonist Milt Caniff Draws Copper Calhoun – #35019590". Worthpoint. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (accessed February 23, 2018), Armelia C Ohmart in household of C Thomas Ohmart, Seattle, King, Washington, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 98, sheet 14A, line 6, family 229, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2497; FHL microfilm 2,342,231.
  6. ^ a b "'Miss Utah' Was Beauty Even as One-Year-Old". The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah, Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune. September 27, 1945. p. 7. Retrieved July 23, 2016 – via  
  7. ^ "Salt Lake Radio Singer Back From Northwest". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City. June 28, 1944. p. 4. Retrieved July 22, 2016 – via  
  8. ^ "Carol Ohmart Is Winner of Miss Utah Crown". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. Utah, Ogden. Associated Press. September 6, 1945. p. 5. Retrieved July 22, 2016 – via  
  9. ^ "Miss Utah Wins 5th Place In U.S. Beauty Contest". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City. Associated Press. September 8, 1946. p. 15. Retrieved July 22, 2016 – via  
  10. ^ "Dawn to Dusk with Milton Caniff". Popular Photography: 50. June 1947 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ a b Bacon, James (July 3, 1955). "Female Bombshell". The Daily Herald. Utah, Provo. p. 14. Retrieved July 23, 2016 – via  
  12. ^ a b "Carol Ohmart at Brian's Drive-In Theater". Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  13. ^ Prickette, James (2012). Actors of the Spaghetti Westerns. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781469144290. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  14. ^ Jorgensen 2010, p. 245.
  15. ^ Maltin 1994, p. 1452.
  16. ^ a b Wagner, Laura (Summer 2015). "Carol Ohmart: "I've Found My Peace"". Films of the Golden Age (81): 56–58.
  17. ^ a b Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons 3rd ed. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016; ISBN 978-0-7864-7992-4), page 561
  18. ^ Barrios, Greg (January 1, 1989). "In Search of he Last Starlet : One fan's quest for the mysterious Carol Ohmart". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2016.

Works citedEdit

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