‘Bonanza’: This Guest Star Was Briefly One of Hollywood’s Greatest Talents

by Craig Garrett

Lola Albright is perhaps best known as Edie Hart on Peter Gunn, but her talents made her sought after for a myriad of roles. Perhaps one of the reasons she’s so well remembered for her Peter Gunn role is a real-life talent. Albright played Gunn’s often jilted girlfriend, who was a jazz singer. On each episode of the classic tv show, Albright was singing a number at an all-hours club called Mother’s.

However, that wasn’t a lip-syncing performance. Albright was an accomplished vocalist and performed the songs for Peter Gunn. Lola Albright’s parents were gospel singers themselves and she studied music growing up.

Many credit Lola Albright’s sultry vocals and looks as a key factor to Peter Gunn’s popularity. The series was created by acclaimed director Blake Edwards and starred Craig Stevens as a suave detective. Peter Gunn ran from 1958 to 1961 for 114 episodes. The music for the show earned composer Henry Mancini two Grammy Awards. Not only that, but Albright and Mancini collaborated on two albums together,“Lola Wants You” (1957) and “Dreamsville” (1959). Albright herself was nominated for an Emmy for her performance.

Lola Albright’s many appearances outside of Peter Gunn

Leading to her performance in Peter Gunn, Lola Albright was often cast as femme fatales. One of her early film roles was opposite Kirk Douglas in 1949’s Champion. In the boxing film, she played a married woman hellbent on seducing Douglas’s pugilist character. She also played a love interest for Frank Sinatra in 1955’s Tender Trap.

Albright made the transition to television early on. She had a recurring role in the sitcom The Bob Cummings Show in the late 1950s before landing her Gunn role. In the 1950s and 60s, Albright had a prolific tv career. She appeared on series like The Beverly Hillbilies, Gunsmoke, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1962, she played the love interest of yet another singer in yet another boxing film. This time, she played opposite Elvis Presley in Kid Galahad.

Lola Albright also made two guest appearances on the classic tv western, Bonanza. She first shows up on the season 6 episode “The Search”. In that episode, she played a saloon employee tasked to track down an Adam Cartwright doppelganger. Next, she appears in the season 8 episode, “A Bride for Buford”. This episode showcased her musical talent. She played a saloon performer with a villainous boyfriend.

In the 1980s, Lola Albright made appearances on iconic shows such as The Incredible Hulk, Quincy M.E. and Airwolf. After her Airwolf appearance, she retired staying out of the limelight for good.

Lola Albright passed away in 2017 at the age of 92. Peter Gunn is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.