Jeanne Elizabeth Crain (May 25, 1925 – December 14, 2003) was an American actress whose career spanned from 1943 to 1975. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in the 1949 film Pinky, in which she played the leading role. She was also noted for her ability in ice skating.
Crain in 1954
Jeanne Elizabeth Crain
May 25, 1925
Barstow, California, U.S.
|Died||December 14, 2003 (aged 78)|
|Resting place||Santa Barbara Cemetery|
(m. 1946; died 2003)
Crain was born in Barstow, California, to George A. Crain, a schoolteacher, and Loretta Carr, Irish Catholic parents. By 1930, the family was living in Inglewood, California at 822 S. Walnut Avenue. After her parents divorced in 1934, the family of three moved to 5817 Van Ness Ave in Los Angeles.
An excellent ice skater, Crain first attracted attention when she was crowned Miss Pan-Pacific at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. Later, while still in high school, she was asked to take a screen test with Orson Welles. She did not get the part. In 1943, she appeared in a bit part in the film The Gang's All Here.
20th Century FoxEdit
The Gang's All Here was produced by 20th Century Fox. Fox then cast Crain in her first sizable role, in the romantic drama Home in Indiana (1944) with Walter Brennan, in which she played the love interest of Lon McCallister. The film, shot in Technicolor, was popular at the box office and established Crain as a film name.
A delighted Darryl F Zanuck, head of Fox, gave Crain top billing in In the Meantime, Darling (1944), playing a war bride, directed by Otto Preminger. Her acting was critically panned, but she gained nationwide attention. It resulted in her landing the leading role in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim in October 1944, a musical film which was eventually made with Betty Grable as the star.
Crain first received critical acclaim when she starred in Winged Victory (1944). She co-starred in 1945 with Dana Andrews in the musical film State Fair, in which Louanne Hogan dubbed Crain's singing numbers. After that, Crain often had singing parts in films, and they were invariably dubbed, in most cases by Hogan.
State Fair was a hit, as was Leave Her to Heaven (1945), in which Crain was the "good" sister of "bad" Gene Tierney, both in love with Cornel Wilde. Crain became established as one of Fox's bigger stars - so much so that Zanuck refused to let her play the comparatively small part of Clementine in My Darling Clementine (1946)
Crain and Wilde were reunited in Centennial Summer (1946), directed by Preminger, Fox's attempt to match the success of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). More popular was Margie (1946). Her ice skating ability was on display in this film, in which she and Conrad Janis danced around the ice rink as her boyfriend Alan Young slipped and stumbled his way.
In 1949, Crain appeared in three films. A Letter to Three Wives (1949), in which she was top billed, quickly became established as a classic, winning Joseph L. Mankiewicz two Oscars and being a solid box-office hit. The Fan, directed by Preminger and based on Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde, was received poorly. However, Pinky earned Crain a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress and was one of the more popular films of the year. Pinky was controversial because it told the story of a light-skinned African American woman who passes for white in the Northern United States. Although Lena Horne and other black actresses were considered, producer Darryl F. Zanuck chose to cast a white actress for fear of racial backlash.
Crain had another big success when she starred with Myrna Loy and Clifton Webb in the 1950 biographical film Cheaper by the Dozen, although her part was more of a supporting role. She had a cameo as herself in I'll Get By (1951) and starred in Take Care of My Little Girl (1951), a mildly popular drama about snobbery in college sororities.
Next, Crain paired with Cary Grant in the Joseph L. Mankiewicz film of the offbeat drama People Will Talk (1951). Despite Jeanne's heavily campaigning for the female lead, Anne Baxter was initially cast in the part, but when she had to forfeit due to pregnancy, Crain was given the role after all.
Shortly after, Crain starred in Charles Brackett's production The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951). Cast in May 1951, Crain was Brackett's first choice for the role. Crain was reunited with Loy for Belles on Their Toes (1952), the sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen, getting top billing this time.
While still at 20th Century Fox, Crain played a young wife quickly losing her mind amid high seas intrigue in Dangerous Crossing (1953), co-starring Michael Rennie. She starred in Vicki (1953), a remake of I Wake Up Screaming. Fox tried her in a Western City of Bad Men (1954). The box-office performance of these last few films was mild, and Crain left the studio.
She showed her dancing skills in 1955's Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, a quasi-sequel to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes based on Anita Loos' novel and co-starring Jane Russell. The film was shot partly in Paris and was released in France as A Paris Pour les Quatre (To Paris for the Four), and in Belgium as Cevieren Te Parijs. Later in the 1950s, Crain, Russell, and another actress formed a short-lived singing and dancing lounge act on the Las Vegas Strip.
Crain made the Western comedy The Second Greatest Sex (1956), then starred with Glenn Ford, Russ Tamblyn, and Broderick Crawford in The Fastest Gun Alive directed by Russell Rouse. It was a big hit. At Universal, she starred with Jeff Chandler in the thriller The Tattered Dress (1957), then played a socialite who helps floundering singer and comedian Joe E. Lewis (Frank Sinatra) redeem himself in The Joker Is Wild (1957).
At this time, Crain began working in television, playing Daisy in a 1958 adaptation of The Great Gatsby and Rose in 1959's all-star production of Meet Me in St. Louis alongside Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon, Jane Powell, Ed Wynn, and top billed Tab Hunter.
Film roles became fewer in the 1960s as Crain went into semi-retirement. She appeared as Nefertiti in the Italian production of Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile (1961) with Edmund Purdom and Vincent Price and in Madison Avenue (1962) with Dana Andrews and Eleanor Parker. During this period, Crain appeared — for the second time — as one of the mystery guests on What's My Line?, and made guest appearances on the Riverboat and Burke's Law.
At the height of her stardom, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Crain was nicknamed "Hollywood's Number One party girl", and she was quoted as saying that she was invited to at least 200 parties a year.
The marriage was rocky for some years. In the mid-1950s, Crain obtained an interlocutory divorce decree, each spouse claiming the other had been unfaithful (she also claimed Brinkman had been abusive), but the couple reconciled on December 31, 1956.
Crain and her husband remained married, although they lived separately in Santa Barbara until Brinkman's death in October 2003.
Crain's career is fully documented by a collection of memorabilia about her assembled by Charles J. Finlay, a longtime publicist at 20th Century Fox. The Jeanne Crain Collection resides at the Cinema Archives at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. These archives also hold the papers of Ingrid Bergman, Frank Capra, Clint Eastwood, and others. Paul Brinkman Jr., a television executive, is most known for his work on the television series JAG.
|1943||The Gang's All Here||Chorus Girl / Pool Party Guest||Uncredited|
|1944||Home in Indiana||'Char' Bruce|
|In the Meantime, Darling||Margaret 'Maggie' Preston|
|1945||State Fair||Margy Frake||a.k.a. Rodgers and Hammerstein's State Fair|
|Leave Her to Heaven||Ruth Berent|
|1946||Centennial Summer||Julia Rogers||Also soundtrack|
|Margie||Marjorie 'Margie' MacDuff||Also soundtrack|
|1948||You Were Meant for Me||Peggy Mayhew|
|Apartment for Peggy||Peggy Taylor||Also soundtrack|
|1949||A Letter to Three Wives||Deborah Bishop|
|The Fan||Lady Margaret 'Meg' Windermere||a.k.a. Lady Windermere's Fan|
|Pinky||Patricia 'Pinky' Johnson||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1950||Cheaper by the Dozen||Anne Gilbreth|
|I'll Get By||Herself||Uncredited|
|1951||Take Care of My Little Girl||Elizabeth 'Liz' Erickson|
|People Will Talk||Deborah Higgins|
|The Model and the Marriage Broker||Kitty Bennett|
|1952||Belles on Their Toes||Anne Gilbreth||a.k.a. Belles on Their Toes: The Further Adventures of the Gilbreth Family|
|O. Henry's Full House||Della Young||(segment "The Gift of the Magi")|
|1953||Dangerous Crossing||Ruth Stanton Bowman|
|City of Bad Men||Linda Culligan|
|1954||Duel in the Jungle||Marian Taylor|
|1955||Man Without a Star||Reed Bowman|
|Gentlemen Marry Brunettes||Connie Jones / Mitzi Jones||Also soundtrack|
|The Second Greatest Sex||Liza McClure||Also soundtrack|
|1956||The Fastest Gun Alive||Dora Temple|
|1957||The Tattered Dress||Diane Blane|
|The Joker Is Wild||Letty Page||a.k.a. All the Way|
|1960||Guns of the Timberland||Laura Riley|
|1961||Madison Avenue||Peggy Shannon|
|Twenty Plus Two||Linda Foster||a.k.a. It Started in Tokyo|
|Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile||Tenet/Nefertiti||Original title: Nefertiti, regina del Nilo|
|1962||Pontius Pilate||Claudia Procula||Original title: Ponzio Pilato|
|1963||Invasion 1700||Helena Kurcewiczówna||Original title: Col ferro e col fuoco|
a.k.a. Daggers of Blood
a.k.a. With Fire and Sword
|1967||Hot Rods to Hell||Peg Phillips||a.k.a. 52 Miles to Terror|
|1971||The Night God Screamed||Fanny Pierce||a.k.a. Scream|
|1972||Skyjacked||Mrs. Clara Shaw||a.k.a. Sky Terror (final film role)|
|1955||Star Stage||Nancy||1 episode|
|1956||The Ford Television Theatre||Joyce Randall||1 episode|
|1958||Playhouse 90||Daisy Buchanan||1 episode|
|Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||Ruth Elliot||1 episode|
|1959||Meet Me in St. Louis||Rose Smith||TV movie|
|Goodyear Theatre||Lila Babrek Barnes||1 episode|
|Riverboat||Laura Sutton||1 episode|
|1960-62||G.E. True||Hope/Marion Miller||3 episodes|
|1963||The Dick Powell Show||Elsie||1 episode|
|1964-65||Burke's Law||Amy Booth / Lorraine Turner / Polly Martin||3 episodes|
|1968||The Danny Thomas Hour||Frances Merrill||1 episode|
|The Name of the Game||Mrs. McKendricks||1 episode|
|1972||Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law||Lily MacMurdy||1 episode|
|1951||Suspense||The Case Study of a Murderer|
|1952||Lux Radio Theatre||Take Care of My Little Girl|
|1953||Lux Radio Theatre||You're My Everything|
|1953||Lux Summer Theatre||One More Spring|
- Bergan, Ronald (December 16, 2003). "Jeanne Crain". The Guardian. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- "United States Federal Status". US Government. 1930 – via ancestrylibrary.com.
- "United States Census". US Census Bureau. 1940 – via ancestrylibrary.com.
- "Darryl F. Zanuck Presents 'Leave Her to Heaven' Starring Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain". The Waxahachie Daily Light. February 10, 1946. p. 4. Retrieved June 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "SCREEN NEWS; Fox Picks Starring Film for Jeanne Crain". The New York Times. October 18, 1944. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
- Parsons, Louella (March 12, 1951). "Gets Anne's Role". Deseret News. p. 3.
- Parsons, Louella (May 24, 1951). "Gets Anne's Role". San Antonio Light. p. 6.
- Katz, Ephraim (1998). The Film Encyclopedia (Third ed.). p. 304. Missing or empty
- "Jeanne Crain Likes Night Life, Says So". Long Beach Independent. March 18, 1955. p. 27.
- Grace, Francie (December 15, 2003). "Actress Jeanne Crain Dead At 78 — Appeared In 64 Films, Co-Starred With Holden, Sinatra, Kirk Douglas". CBS News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
- "Jeanne Crain". glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com.
- "Reconciled Couple Expecting 5th Child". The Daily Herald. June 7, 1957. p. 13. Retrieved June 23, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Cinema Archives". Wesleyan.edu. Wesleyan University. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- Kirby, Walter (February 3, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (February 22, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 23, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (June 28, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved July 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
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