Film noir royalty Jane Greer was born 94 years ago today. If asked which actress we’d choose to have pull a gun on us, Ms. Greer would top our short list.
Jane Greer was born Bettejane Greer 92 years ago today in Washington, D.C. If she had played no other role in a motion picture than Kathie Moffat, the femme fatale who bedeviled Robert Mitchum in the noir classic Out of the Past, she’d be remembered with great fondness in the Cladrite household.
Here are 10 JG Did-You-Knows:
- As a child Greer suffered from a facial palsy that partially paralyzed her face. She credited the facial exercises she performed to overcome the condition helped her expressiveness as an actress.
- After winning beauty contests and working as a model as a teen, Greer began her career as a performer singing (in phonetic Spanish) with the dance orchestra of Enrique Madriguera.
- Howard Hughes spotted Greer in a 1942 modeling spread in Life magazine and brought her to Hollywood to work in pictures.
- Greer married Rudy Vallée in 1943, in order, it was said in some circles, to escape the overly possessive and controlling Hughes. She was 19; he was 42. We’re big Rudy fans, but he was an oddball on his best day and this has to be as one of the unlikeliest pairings in Hollywood history. The couple separated after just three months of marriage and divorced five months later.
- Greer had her name legally changed from Bettejane to Jane in December 1945. About her birth name, she said, “Mine is a sissy name. It’s too bo-peepish, ingenueish, for the type of role I’ve been playing. It’s like Mary Lou or Mary Ann.”
- Greer was a descendant of the poet John Donne.
- Greer had three sons with second husband Edward Lasker, an attorney and business, to whom she was married for 16 years. TWo of her sons, Alex and Lawrence, worked in Hollywood in the 1980s and ’90s as writers and producers.
- Her longest romantic relationship was a 36-year domestic partnership with actor and dialogue coach Frank London that lasted until his death in 2001. She passed away six months later.
- In addition to the 28 motion pictures she appeared in, Greer worked extensively on television, beginning in 1953 with an appearance on The Revlon Mirror Theater and ending in 1990 with a recurring role in the second season of Twin Peaks.
- Greer had a twin brother named Don.
Happy birthday, Jane Greer, wherever you may be!
We note often that there aren’t many great actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood who are still with us. That’s why we’re especially pleased to mark the occasion of Kirk Douglas‘s 99th birthday today—because he’s still with us and going (relatively) strong!
Douglas made many memorable pictures, of course, but we remain most fond of his early work in the film noir genre. His very first screen appearance was opposite Barbara Stanwyck, Lizbeth Scott and Van Heflin in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) and you could do much worse than to watch that one today in honor of his birthday (it’s available for streaming from Amazon Prime), but our favorite remains Out of the Past (1947), perhaps the pinnacle of noir, in which Douglas stars with Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum. It’s a near-perfect picture, and it’s frankly hard to believe it was just his second film. He’s mesmerizing in portraying a hardened, sadistic gangster who puts up a (nearly) convincingly amiable front.
Happy birthday, Kirk Douglas, and many happy returns of the day!