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Legendary Film Stars Named Jean

Updated on July 22, 2014


Oct 17, 1900 - June 19, 1991

Jean Arthur was the girl with the funny voice. You never forgot that voice. It was as though she was making it up. That could not possibly be her real voice! But, it was and we loved it. That personified the rambunctious and fast talking actress that moved across the screen like a race horse in screwball comedies and in dramatic roles as well. That voice was voided in her first seven years in silent era films.

She starred in some of Hollywood's greatest films including The Whole Town's Talking in 1935 with the great Edward G. Robinson, Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town in 1936 with Gary Cooper, Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939 with James Stewart, The More the Merrier in 1943 with my personal favorite actor, Joel McCrea for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and in her farewell screen performance in one of Hollywood's most famous films, Shane in 1953 with two of the best, Van Heflin and Alan Ladd. She was ten and thirteen years older than her co-stars respectively.


Mar 3, 1911 - June 7, 1937

She only lived to be twenty-six years of age, but, managed to have three husbands and make forty-two films. Six of those films were with Clark Gable including her final film, Saratoga in which a double had to do some unfinished scenes. She became a super star with her second Clark Gable film, Red Dust in 1932 which almost did not finish with Harlow in the film because of the suicide of her second husband. His death came just weeks into their marriage. His former wife committed suicide a few days later. All of this publicity and the rage about her platinum hair made the film a huge hit.

She had a brief affair with William Powell and co-starred in three movies with another film great, Spencer Tracy. While filming Saratoga, she was hospitalized with uremic poisoning and died on June 7, 1937 at just 26.

Jean Harlow was Marilyn Monroe's idol. They would both make their final films with Clark Gable, Harlow in Saratoga and Marilyn in The Misfits.


Oct 15, 1926 - Oct 13, 2000

The beautiful Jean Peters earned a degree from Ohio State University as well as the title, "Miss Ohio State University" and she had plans of teaching English. However, a contest on campus sent her to Hollywood for a screen test which awarded her with a seven year contract. Her very first film cast her with screen star Tyrone Power in Captain From Castile in 1947. Film and business mogul, Howard Hughes became fascinated with her as he did with many other starlets and they would stay under the radar for several years avoiding parties and the limelight.

Jean grew tired of the roles being offered and retired to her farm in Ohio in 1949. She returned to Hollywood to be tested by Elia Kazan for the true story of Viva Zapata with Marlon Brando in the title role. Thank goodness, she returned! I absolutely loved that movie that also starred Anthony Quinn in an Oscar winning supporting role as Zapata's sidekick.

This type of role continued with films such as Apache in1954 with Burt Lancaster which made her a major star. As a result, she would follow with Niagara with Marilyn Monroe and Broken Lance with legendary Spencer Tracy in that same year. Her final film was A Man Called Peter in 1955.

After a one month marriage to a Texas oilman, she then married the eccentric Howard Hughes and left public life for thirteen years to live in the highly publicized reclusive life with Hughes. She never gave interviews and lived isolated from the world in Santa Monica.

In 1969, she came out of her guarded world to study for a degree in sociology at UCLA under an assumed name. She divorced Hughes in 1971 and married for the third time that same year. She would do some television work in the 70's and 80's being last seen in Murder She Wrote in 1984.

She never spoke about Howard Hughes in public.


Jan 31, 1929 - Jan 22, 2010

Born in England, she got her start in Shakespearean films alongside such brilliant actors as Lawrence Olivier in 1948's Hamlet earning her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. At the time, she claimed she did not even know what an Oscar was.

In 1950, she married fellow Brit Stewart Granger. In 1955, she co-starred with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra in Guys and Dolls and she and Marlon used their own singing voices. She earned a Golden Globe award and would be nominated six times.

After ten years, she divorced Stewart Granger and married shortly thereafter to director Richard Brooks who cast her in his film Elmer Gantry as Sister Sharon with Burt Lancaster in the title role. What an outstanding performance by both of these actors!

That same year, she would make one of Hollywood's immortal epics, Spartacus with Kirk Douglas, Lawrence Olivier, Charles Laughton, the incomparable Peter Ustinov and Tony Curtis among others. She is quoted as saying that when the crew placed Kirk upon the cross, the assistant director yelled "lunch" and they left him up there. Since he was the executive producer, he could have fired all of them, but, Kirk took the practical joke in stride.

Jean would continue to make films into the '70's, but, in the '80's appeared mostly on television, most memorably in the series, The Thorn Birds. I would even find her doing the naration on The History Channel in the 2000's.

She would divorce Mr. Brooks in 1977. He claimed she was an alcoholic and the film he wrote and directed with Jean in the leading role, The Happy Ending in 1969 was written as a way to tell her that she had a problem. She was nominated for an Oscar for the second time for her work in this film; this time for Best Actress.

Jean Simmons would succumb to lung cancer at the age of 80.


Nov 13, 1938 - Aug 30, 1979

One of the most beautiful women ever to grace the screen, Jean had a tragic existence. She was picked out of 18,000 girls vying for the part of Joan of Arc in Otto Preminger's Saint Joan just one month following her 18th birthday. The film would not fair well with the public. She had a better reception with Breathless in 1960 and another memorable performance in Lilith in 1964 with Warren Beatty. Her most famous film was Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood in 1969.

During this period, Jean became an activist with the Black Panther party. Her career was ruined after a campaign by the FBI to discredit her. Also, in this time period, even though she was in her second marriage, she would give birth to a daughter fathered by activist Carlos Navarra. The baby died two days later because of Jean's overuse of sleeping pills during her pregnancy.

She would marry a third time and would make foreign films as her only choice due to her notoriety in the states.

While in her fourth marriage, she would commit suicide in the back seat of a car in Paris, France at the age of just 40. Her body was not discovered for eleven days. The next year, her second husband also committed suicide.

You are asking, "What about the other Jeans?" Sorry, but Crane's first name is spelled Jeanne and Tierney's first name is spelled Gene.


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