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Jeanne Crain 1925-2003

Country : Barstow, California
Profession : Actress
Date of birth : 1925-05-25
Date of death : 2003-12-14
Cause of Death : Heart attack

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Crain, Jeanne_01

Jeanne Elizabeth Crain (May 25, 1925December 14, 2003) was an Oscar-nominated American actress.

Early life

Crain was born in Barstow, California to George A. Crain (a school teacher) and Loretta Carr; she was of Irish heritage on her mother's side, and of English and distant French descent on her father's. She moved to Los Angeles as a young child. An excellent ice skater, Crain first attracted attention when she was crowned Miss Pan Pacific at L.A.'s Pan Pacific Auditorium. Later, while still in high school, she was asked to make a screen test opposite Orson Welles. She did not get the part, but in 1943, at the age of 18, she appeared in a bit part in the movie The Gang's All Here.


In 1944, she starred in Home in Indiana and In the Meantime, Darling. Her acting was critically panned, but she rebounded in the hit Victory. During World War II, Crain's fan mail was reportedly second in volume only to that of Betty Grable. She co-starred in 1945 with Dana Andrews in State Fair, as well as in Leave Her to Heaven with Gene Tierney. In 1949, she starred in three films: A Letter to Three Wives, The Fan and Pinky, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Pinky was controversial, since 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, Darryl F. Zanuck chose to cast a white actress for box-office reasons.

In 1950, Crain starred opposite Myrna Loy and Clifton Webb in Cheaper by the Dozen. Next, Crain paired up with Cary Grant for the Joseph L. Mankiewicz production of the offbeat drama People Will Talk (1951). Crain was again teamed with Loy in Belles on Their Toes (1952), the sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen.

While still at Fox, Crain gave an excellent performance as a young wife quickly losing her mind amidst high seas intrigue in Dangerous Crossing, co-starring Michael Rennie. Crain then starred in a string of films for Universal Pictures, including notable pairings with Kirk Douglas such as Man Without a Star (1955).

Also in 1955, Crain also showed off her lively dancing abilities in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, co-starring Jane Russell, Alan Young and Rudy Vallee. The production was filmed on location in Paris and Crain's singing was dubbed, as was customary. The film was based on the Anita Loos sequel to her acclaimed Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Gentlemen Marry Brunettes was popular throughout Europe at the time 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 teamed up for a short-lived singing and dancing lounge act on the Las Vegas Strip.

In 1956, Crain starred opposite Glenn Ford, Russ Tamblyn and Broderick Crawford in the compelling Western film The Fastest Gun Alive directed by Russell Rouse. In 1957, she was a socialite who helps a crushed singer and comedian (Frank Sinatra) redeem himself in The Joker Is Wild.

In 1959, Crain appeared in a prestigious CBS Television special production of Meet Me in St. Louis. Also starring in the broadcast were Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon, Jane Powell, and Ed Wynn, with top billing going to Tab Hunter.

Film roles became fewer in the 1960s as Crain went into semi-retirement. She was captivating as Nefertiti in the Italian production of Queen of the Nile (1961) with Edmund Purdom and Vincent Price. During this period Crain did a stint as one of the What's My Line? Mystery Guests on the popular Sunday night CBS-TV quiz program and made several guest appearances on the television series Burke's Law.

She also starred again with Dana Andrews in Hot Rods To Hell (1967). Crain's last film role was in Skyjacked (1972).

Personal life

Against her mother's wishes, Crain married former RKO Studios contract player Paul Brinkman on December 31, 1946; the first of their 7 children was born the following April. During the early 1950s, Crain was earning approx. $3,500 per week. Crain and her husband Brinkman bought a large, lovely home for their growing family on Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills. (The home can be seen and is described by Bette Davis in candid footage of a driving sequence in the 1952 now cult-classic, The Star.) The marriage was rocky for some years. In the mid-50s, 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 the eve of their 11th wedding anniversary.

As a lifelong devout Roman Catholic, Jeanne Crain Brinkman and her husband Paul remained married, though they lived separately in Santa Barbara, California, until Brinkman's death in October 2003. Crain died a few months later and it was later confirmed that the cause was a heart attack. Crain's funeral Mass was held at the Old Santa Barbara Mission. Crain is buried in the Brinkman family plot at Santa Barbara Cemetery. The couple outlived two of their children. The Brinkmans were survived by five adult children, including Paul Brinkman Jr., a successful television executive, most known for his work on CBS TV's JAG. Crain was also survived by many grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Crain's eldest granddaughter, actress and singer/songwriter Bret Crain, set up a website dedicated to Crain's memory: On the website one can read about Bret's fond memories of her grandmother. Bret Crain can be seen being interviewed on the upcoming DVD release of Jeanne Crain's "Dangerous Crossing."

Crain's career is fully documented by an extraordinary collection of memorabilia about her assembled by the late Charles J. Finlay (longtime publicist at 20th Century Fox). The Jeanne Crain collection resides perpetually at the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives in Middletown, Connecticut. These archives also hold the papers of Frank Capra, Ingrid Bergman, Clint Eastwood, and others.


  • The Gang's All Here (1943)
  • Home in Indiana (1944)
  • In the Meantime, Darling (1944)
  • Winged Victory (1944)
  • The All-Star Bond Rally (1945) (short subject)
  • State Fair (1945)
  • Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
  • Centennial Summer (1946)
  • Margie (1946)
  • You Were Meant for Me (1948)
  • Apartment for Peggy (1948)
  • A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
  • The Fan (1949)
  • Pinky (1949)
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
  • I'll Get By (1950) (Cameo)
  • Take Care of My Little Girl (1951)
  • People Will Talk (1951)
  • The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951)
  • Belles on Their Toes (1952)
  • O. Henry's Full House (1952)
  • Dangerous Crossing (1953)
  • Vicki (1953)
  • City of Bad Men (1953)
  • Duel in the Jungle (1954)
  • Man Without a Star (1955)
  • Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955)
  • The Second Greatest Sex (1955)
  • The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)
  • The Tattered Dress (1957)
  • The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  • Guns of the Timberland (1960)
  • Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile (1961)
  • Twenty Plus Two (1961)
  • Invasion 1700 (1962)
  • Pontius Pilate (1962)
  • Hot Rods to Hell (1967)
  • The Night God Screamed (1971)
  • Skyjacked (1972)

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