She was always on the second rung, somehow; on-screen, she was perfectly fine, but didn't offer anything uniquely distinctive. She too often gave the impression of being a blend of Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Claire Trevor, and any one of the Bennett sisters.
What she did have was a private life to give any of her modern sisters pause - affairs and marriages long and short with everyone from Mike Todd to John Huston to Anthony Quinn (oh, and, of course, Artie Shaw. In the words of my dear friend Miss Rheba, discussing Keyes's passing yesterday, "Shaw? Who didn't marry him? I think he was written into their contracts!") Perhaps she was too busy managing her datebook to properly manage her career.
She made a lot of pictures, albeit too many of them with utterly forgotten titles like Strange Affair, The Mating of Millie, and The Killer That Stalked New York. At her best, she offered a sly, noirish twist on the depths that might lurk behind the nice girl next door.
Like so many of her contemporaries, she ended up in the usual television slots, including what sounds like the dirtiest Love Boat ever made: its segments are titled "Bricker's Boy", "Lotions of Love", and "The Hustler". Goodness.
She leaves behind, according to her New York Times obit, at least one great quote: "I always took up with the man of the moment - and there were many such moments."