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Jeanne Crain

Real name: Jeanne Crain
Birthdate: May 25, 1925
Status: Married
Partner: Paul Brinkman

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Biography

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 Winged Victory. During World War II, Crain's fan mail was second in volume only to that of Betty Grable. In 1945 she co- starred with Dana Andrews in State Fair, and 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 a controversial movie, since it told the story of a light-skinned African-American young woman who passes for white in the northern United States. Although Lena Horne and other black actresses were considered for the role, 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 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 pictures for Universal Pictures, including notable pairings with Kirk Douglas, such as Man Without a Star (1955).

In 1956, Crain starred opposite Glenn Ford, Russ Tamblyn, and Broderick Crawford in the compelling Western, The Fastest Gun Alive. The film was directed by Russell Rouse. In 1957, she was a socialite who helps a crushed singer (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. A sign of the times: top-billing on the program went to co-star Tab Hunter!

Crain's eldest grandaughter, actress and singer/songwriter Bret Crain, set up a website dedicated to Crain's memory: jeannecrain.org. 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." Bret Crain is married to and has three children with Gabor Csupo, producer of "The Rugrats" and director of "Bridge to Terrabithia". Gabor Csupo is currently slated to direct "Moon Princess."

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.



 


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