Born: February 13, 1942;

Died: September 3, 2019

CAROL Lynley, who has died of a heart attack at the age of 77, was a child model who made the cover of Life magazine at 15 and was whipping up controversy on Broadway at 16, but is probably best known in the UK as one of the stars of The Poseidon Adventure, which arguably kicked off the fashion for all-star disaster movies in the 1970s.

The sinking ship drama, in which she co-starred with Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters, was a huge hit – director Ronald Neame, who also made The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, once told me that he made more money from it than every other film put together, and he had started off in the silent era.

But for Lynley, who was in her thirties by then, it was to be her career high-point.

In the film she played the cruise liner’s singer, Nonnie Parry. Her character sings the Oscar-winning song, The Morning After, at the New Year celebrations when the ship is capsized by a tsunami. But while Lynley’s character sang it on screen it was actually dubbed by Renee Armand on the soundtrack.

Lynley was born Carole Ann Jones in New York and began modelling under the name Carolyn Lee.

There was already another actress with that name, so she tweaked it to Carole Lynley when she began getting juvenile roles on television in the 1950s.

She made her Broadway debut in Graham Greene’s play, The Potting Shed, in 1957; she starred in Disney’s The Light in the Forest in 1958, and she was the naïve teenager who gets pregnant in the Broadway play, Blue Denim, in 1958, and in the film version the following year.

In the play her character had an illegal abortion, which provoked a storm of criticism. The ending was changed in the film, which in the UK was retitled Blue Jeans, and she has the child.

Graduating to more adult roles, Lynley was a writer who has an affair with her married publisher in Return to Peyton Place (1961).

In the wonderful 1961 Wild West tragedy, The Last Sunset, she was a woman who falls in love with outlaw Kirk Douglas, only to discover that he is actually her father.

Much of Lynley’s work in the 1960s had been in television before she landed Poseidon. She said there was a lot of jealousy and surprise as “everybody in town” wanted the role. Lynley played one of a small group trying to work their way up into the upside-down hull and possible rescue, beginning by climbing up a Christmas tree.

She insisted many of the scarier moments were real. “There were no safety precautions for the first two weeks of shooting,” she said. “I’d be up there on a catwalk and if I slipped it was six storeys straight down through flames to a concrete floor.”

Poseidon’s success did not revive Lynley’s film career and she returned to television, with guest roles in Charlie’s Angels (1980) and Hart to Hart (1981) and several appearances on Fantasy Island in the 1970s and 1980s.

She complained it was difficult for older actresses to get good roles. “I don’t mean to sound conceited, but I am a very talented actress,” she said.

She was married briefly to a film publicist in the early 1960s and had a long on-off relationship with the broadcaster, David Frost. She is survived by a daughter, Jill, from her marriage.