Jeanne Crain: American actress (1925-2003) (1925 - 2003)
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Jeanne Crain
American actress

Jeanne Crain

Jeanne Crain
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actress
Was Actor Television actor Film actor
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 25 May 1925, Barstow, San Bernardino County, California, USA; Barstow, San Bernardino County, California, USA
Death 14 December 2003, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, USA (aged 78 years)
Star sign Gemini
Politics Republican Party
The details (from wikipedia)


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.

Early life

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 Fox

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.

She made two films in 1948, You Were Meant for Me, a musical with Dan Dailey, that may have been Marilyn Monroe's first appearance on film, and Apartment for Peggy, with William Holden.

Career peak

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.


Crain made Duel in the Jungle (1954) in Britain and then Man Without a Star (1955), a Western with Kirk Douglas at Universal, where she played the lead female role of a hard-nosed ranch-owner.

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.

Later career

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.

She co-starred again with Dana Andrews in Hot Rods To Hell (1967). Her last films were 1971's The Night God Screamed and Skyjacked (1972) with Charlton Heston.

Personal life

Crain dancing with her husband Paul Brinkman at the Mocambo, 1946

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.

Against her mother's wishes, on December 31, 1945, Crain married Paul Brinkman, a former contract player at RKO Pictures credited as Paul Brooks. Crain and Brinkman had seven children.

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.

In the early 1960s, she was one of many conservative actors who spent their time fighting for the Republican Party.

Crain and her husband remained married, although they lived separately in Santa Barbara until Brinkman's death in October 2003.

Crain died two months later from a heart attack. Crain's funeral mass was held at the Old Santa Barbara Mission. She is buried in the Brinkman family plot at Santa Barbara Cemetery.


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.

Radio performances

Year Program Episode/source
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
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 16 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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