Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Star of the Month-May

 


JEANNE CRAIN

Born-May 25, 1925

Died- December 14, 2003

Age- 78 years old

Died From- Heart Attack

Married- Paul Brinkmann(former actor turned successful businesman)

Children: 7! Yawzers!

Oscar Nominations-1 for "Pinky"

Talent-Could ice skate very well

Known For- The girl next door and, strangely, a party girl.

I chose Jeanne Crain because I always liked her plus she is born on my hubby's Birthday and hubby is turning 65! I will be married to a true senior...in age only. 

Jeanne Crain is not so well known today because she was not considered an A-List star and her wholesome image is considered dated now. Actually, it was considered dated by the early 50s so, in an attempt to get juicier roles, she died her brunette hair red. I would not say she was a fantastic actress but many seem to lambaste her now which is unfair, in my humble opinion. She could be very convincing as a ladylike girl/woman who is suffering through something or other. She created quite the stir, in a bad way, when she was cast in "Pinky" about a black woman who looks so white she can pass for one but she still must deal with prejudice. Stars like Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge were vying for this role, but Darryl F Zanuck gave it to Crain for 2 reasons: 1. Money. He knew the South would not go see a movie starring an actual African American and 2. The gal had to look very pale and pass for white and the 2 actresses, although lighter skinned still had a darker complexion. Poor Jeanne got some flack for taking this role but I thought she did a great job with it. Her other role in "Margie", which I also like, would not pass today since she is a student who has the hots for her teacher and...he feels the same about her! Oops but it all ends well. Funny, she was in a few musicals but couldn't sing a note, Louanne Hogan was the singer for all Crain's musicals.

She was only 20 when she married against her mother's wishes and soon started a family ending with 7 kids. Her mom's dislike for Paul caused Jeanne and her mom to be estranged for a while but mom knew best since the marriage was quite rocky. In fact, they separated in the mid 50s heading for divorce with each slamming the other of adultery and abuse (See, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were not the first). In fact, she claimed Paul really smacked her head into the bed many times and caused many bruises but, guess what? Yup, the reconciled on the eve of their 11th anniversary and had 3 more children before they parted company in the 70s, amicably, but stayed married due to their strong catholic faith (Oy vey). Apparently, Jeanne suffered the loss of 2 of her children, one to alcoholism and the other to a drug overdose( Chris Brinkman who was in the band, Jane's Addiction), in the early 90s, sending her into a deep depression and alcoholism herself but I only read that in one spot so I am not sure if that last bit is true.

I think Jeanne Crain deserves to be remembered for her talent, beauty and amiable way she conveyed the girl next door.

Films

State Fair - 1945

Leave Her To Heaven - 1945

Centennial Summer - 1946

Margie - 1946

Apartment For Peggy -1948

Pinky - 1949

A Letter To Three Wives -1949

The Fan - 1949

Cheaper By The Dozen - 1950

Belles On Their Toes - 1952

Dangerous Crossing - 1953

Gentlemen Marry Brunettes - 1955



15 comments:

  1. Hi, Birgit!

    I hope you are well and in better spirits this week, dear friend. I'm happy to see you shining the spotlight on Jeanne Crain, because she was a beauty and one of my favorite actresses. I'm surprised to learn that she had seven children. Tell me, BB - what did she do in her spare time? :)

    I am also shocked and disturbed to read the story behind the casting of Jeanne in Pinky. Way to go Darryl F Zanuck - NOT! Such a tone deaf, un-PC decision would never fly in 2022 America.... or would it? Gosh, it's troubling to have to ask that question.

    Looking over Jeanne's list of film credits, I have seen State Fair, Letter To Three Wives, The Joker Is Wild, Madison Avenue and... last but not least... (read on).

    It's interesting that, on the IMDB, the trailer they picked to represent Jeanne's long film career is for the 1966 juvenile delinguency -teenspoitation film Hot Rods To Hell in which Jeanne co-starred with Dana Andrews. The movie tells the tale of a family terrorized on the highway by a group of rock & roll crazed drag racing punks in a souped-up Vette. I have seen the fast and furious flick several times and me likey!!!... but it seems odd to me that the respected movie website picked it as the best example from Jeanne's long and distinguished film career.

    I prefer Jeanne Crain playing wholesome characters rather than femme fatales. She was quite vanilla and very convincing as the shook-up wife and mother in Hot Rods To Hell. It's a shame she didn't have a longer life.

    Thank you, dear friend BB. Enjoy the rest of your week. I look forward to your song post tamale!

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    1. I always loved this actress even though she was not the greatest, I just felt a warmth to her. It's a shame she just gave up later in life when 2 of her kids died.
      I love her in State Fair, Letter to... and Leave her to Heaven even though Gene Tierney did outfit her . She represented a quiet stability that we don't have now.
      No Pinky played by a white actress would not fly but the character is supposed to be so pale that she passes for white so this story would not even work today.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, I did not know a lot about Jeanne Crain until I read this.

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    1. She is a sqeet actress that missed many parts because she was always pregnant

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  3. I remember her in State Fair, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Bells on Their Toes. I still enjoy seeing those movies, not necessarily because of Jeanne Craine. You’ve got me wanting to see what Pinky was all about. There was another movie like that in the 1950s with Lana Turner playing a mom. I think Natalie Wood played the Pinky role in that movie.

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    1. You are recalling Imitation of Life which was a remake of the 1934 film with Claudette Colbert. I don't know if these films would ever get made today

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  4. I remember her from Letter to Three Wives. Good movie. Thanks for all the info.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this and saw this great movie

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  5. I do love Apartment for Peggy. Yes, I do know who she was, but I had no idea she was still alive in 2003. And yikes, I had no idea her son was in Jane's Addiction. Not a favorite band, but one that was frequently played on the radio station I listened to as a teen.

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    1. Yes, she was still alive but the death of 2 kids took a huge toll on her. Her son was kicked out of that band due to his addiction

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  6. Fascinating. I knew nothing about her. Thanks;)

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  7. Hi Birgit,

    I’ve always been on the fence on Jeanne. It’s not that I don’t like her exactly, I just find her very often quite mechanical and affected. That she got as far as she did was in great part that she was a favorite of Darryl Zanuck. It was only her near perpetual state of pregnancy that kept her from getting many choice assignments. She was first choice for “With a Song in My Heart” until Jane Froman insisted on Susan Hayward who also took over for her in “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain”. She was supposed to play the Dorothy McGuire role in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and most frighteningly Eve in “All About Eve”!! The last makes the mind reels! There is no way she could have laced her characterization with the acidly honeyed edge that Anne Baxter did. Joseph Mankiewicz who was no fan of hers flatly refused telling Zanuck “She’s a hardworking girl but not much of an actress.”

    Even when she managed to appear in quality assignments, she is often the weakest link as she was in “A Letter to Three Wives” and “Leave Her to Heaven”. When she’s up against a stronger performer say Sinatra or Mitzi Gaynor in “The Joker’s Wild” or Thelma Ritter in “The Model and the Marriage Broker” she just evaporates when they are on the scene. She’s never actually bad just shallow and surface. I have never been moved by a single one of her performances.

    However, in lighter, undemanding fare like “Apartment for Peggy”, “State Fair” or “Margie” she can be winning.

    I had read that her husband was a right bastard and she had to put up with a great deal from him. One of her children, I don’t remember which one commented after her death that when her youngest son died she more or less shut down and became bedridden. Very sad.

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    1. Hi Joel....I had a feeling she would not be a fav of yours since she is quite vanilla. She is not a great actress but a dependable one and I always had a fondness for her. I think she leant an air of calm and steadfastness in the films you mentioned. She is not as good as Gene Tierney but she brought that calm that the actor needed I the other woman.
      Yes, I read that Mank was not in fabour of her in his film and refused to work with her. Oh, no she would have been all wrong as Eve. She can't convey evil. Her husband was an ass and mean. To have 2 sons die qould break many women.
      I really loved her in State Fair and Margie as well as the classic Leave her to Heaven and A Letter to 3 Qives.

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  8. I hadn’t heard of her - what a beauty!

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