Sharon Elizabeth Hugueny was a leap-year baby, born on February 29, 1944, in Los Angeles, California. She was an intelligent, introspective, and sensitive child who preferred serious reading, writing, and music to the “more frivolous” interests of her peers. Sharon’s parents – a World War II Navy veteran and his wife – were loving-but notoriously strict with their three children (Sharon, a younger brother born in 1950, and a sister born in 1957). Any boy interested in dating teen-aged Sharon was reportedly required to pass two interviews plus a car inspection, before being allowed to take her out. However, when Warner Brothers’ famous talent-scout, Solly Biano, spotted Sharon in a theatrical production of “Blue Denim” when she was fifteen, her parents did allow her to meet producer/director Delmer Daves and to accept the contract offered to her by Mr. Jack L. Warner. Sharon signed that seven-year contract on her 16th birthday. Under Warner’s personal guidance, she quickly began a performing guest-star on appearances in all of Warners’ television programs, such as Lawman (1958), and Maverick (1957), where she received her first on-screen kiss from star Roger Moore (and off-screen kisses from Peter Brown of “Lawman”, and The Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1975)’s Robert Logan}.
While filming Parrish (1961) in 1961, actor (later, producer-and-president of Paramount) Mr. Robert Evans visited her set and was immediately bedazzled by breathtaking Sharon, whose dark beauty earned frequent comparisons by Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons to Elizabeth Taylor. Evans’ feeling for Sharon was reciprocated; and so, seventeen-year-old Sharon began dating the thirty-one-year-old Evans, much to the dismay of her parents, friends, and studio. Within weeks, the two became engaged and then, on May 28, 1961, married. Unfortunately, their union was doomed from the start. Sharon was, by all accounts, extremely mature for her age; yet Evans seemed to regard her as a child, not as a wife. Their relationship deteriorated. At one time, Mr. Evans abandoned California for his clothing business, “Evan Picone”, located in New York, which effectively broke her motion picture and television contract with Warner Bros. This uprooting had taken Sharon thousands of miles from her family, work, and friends; furthermore, Warner Brothers placed her on suspension. (Evans later said that “taking Sharon to New York was like forcing a Persian cat into the Amazon”). In Mexico, less than six months after they married, he arranged for a quick, no alimony, divorce, which confused his naive wife.
Sharon’s career, unfortunately, never recovered. She would become one of many fine actresses of the 1960s who possessed great beauty and tremendous talent but were not provided with good-quality material to showcase their assets. From 1965 to the mid-1970s, Sharon virtually disappeared from public view, other than for a number of television guest-starring spots, such as Mannix (1967).
There followed a marriage to photographer Raymond Ross in 1968 to his death in 1974, a divorce, and a child. By 1976, she was under new management and married to Gordon Cornell Layne, founder of “Mid-America Pictures”.
Sharon was en route to ABC to sign two contracts when a new tragedy intervened: Sharon was struck by a speeding police car, doing 90 mph in pursuit of a fleeing drug addict. Not only did this end Sharon’s career, it very nearly ended her life. Still seeking recovery, she and Mr. Layne left Santa Monica for Lake Arrowhead, in 1987. After nineteen years under Gordon’s personal around-the-clock care, on July 3, 1996, Sharon Elizabeth Hugueny Layne died at home, from misdiagnosed cancer. The “Sharon Elizabeth Hugueny Performance Arts Scholarship” has been projected to honor her memory.