Ms. Mimieux was a child bride in “Toys in the Attic” (1963), based on the Tony Award-winning Lillian Hellman play. Mr. Crowther declared her performance “showy but without plausibility” in his Times review, which was not much nicer than what he said about her co-stars Geraldine Page and Dean Martin.
In 1964, Ms. Mimieux turned her role as a doomed surfer with epilepsy on the television drama “Dr. Kildare” into a starring movie role with the show’s star: She was Richard Chamberlain’s too-nice-for-sex new bride in “Joy in the Morning” (1965). She also reputedly became the first actress to show her navel on television.
Then her career took a definite downward turn. After a brief foray into series television, solving murder cases as Ralph Bellamy’s bright young criminologist partner in “The Most Deadly Game” (1970), she appeared in a string of television movies — “Hit Lady” (1974), from her own script; “The Legend of Valentino” (1975); “Snowbeast” (1977); “Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell” (1978) — and in films like “Skyjacked” (1972), “Jackson County Jail” (1976) and “The Black Hole” (1979).
Ms. Mimieux was not immune from sniping. It was said that the people casting “The Time Machine” were impressed not only by her beauty but also by her talent for “delivering a good blank expression,” as The Irish Times observed in a profile of her in 2002. In 1979, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto newspaper, found her more complicated: “She occupies some vague region far west of Bardot,” a reporter wrote, referring to France’s most famous sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot, “and just east of Tuesday Weld.”
But overall the critics were not unkind. Pauline Kael once called her “a much better actress than the parts she gets.” Roger Ebert, the Chicago Sun-Times critic, agreed. “Miss Mimieux is better than I imagined she could be,” he wrote when reviewing “Three in the Attic,” a dark 1968 sex comedy. “She gets stuck in a lot of hopeless roles.”
The 1980s found her guest-starring on “The Love Boat” (1984) and playing a department store executive’s glamorous merchandising-manager mistress in the short-lived series “Berrenger’s” (1985). Then, in her 40s, she gave it all up. Years later she came out of retirement, however, to play an Ivana Trump-like character in a television movie based on Jackie Collins’s novel “Lady Boss” (1992).