Monday, April 27, 2015

Godspeed Jayne Meadows

Jayne Meadows, the actress who with Steve Allen formed one of the most famous husband and wife teams in show business, died yesterday at the age of 95.

Jayne Meadows was born Jane Meadows Cotter on September 27 1919 in  Wuchang, China. Her younger sister, Audrey Meadows, was born in 1922. Their father and mother were Episcopal missionaries there. The family returned to the United States in 1927 and settled in  Sharon, Connecticut. It was there that their father became a rector of Christ Church. Both Jayne Meadows and her sister Audrey attended an all girls boarding school. Following graduation, Jayne Meadows moved to New York City to pursue acting.

Jayne Meadows made her debut on Broadway in Spring Again in 1941. She appeared again on Broadway in such productions as Another Love Story, Many Happy Returns, and Kiss Them for Me. She made her film debut in Undercurrent in 1946. In the late Forties she appeared in the films Lady in the Lake (1947), Dark Delusion (1947), Song of the Thin Man (1947), The Luck of the Irish (1948), and Enchantment (1948).

It was in 1954 that Jayne Meadows married television personality Steve Allen. The two became one of the most successful husband and wife teams in show business. Miss Meadows appeared frequently on The Steve Allen Show. In the Fifties she also appeared on such shows as The Colgate Comedy Hour, Your Show of Shows, Robert Montgomery Presents, Kraft Theatre, I've Got a Secret, Suspense, Studio One, The U.S. Steel Hour, The Red Skelton Show, To Tell the Truth, and The Ann Sothern Show. She appeared in the films The Fat Man (1951), David and Bathsheba (1951), It Happened to Jane (1959), and College Confidential (1960). She appeared on Broadway in The Gazebo.

In the Sixties Jayne Meadows appeared on such TV shows as The Art Linkletter Show, The Judy Garland Show, The New Steve Allen Show, What's My Line, The Red Skelton Hour, The Eleventh Hour, The Celebrity Game, Match Game, I've Got a Secret, The Milton Berle Show, Hollywood Squares, Good Morning World, Here Come the Brides, Love American Style, and Here's Lucy. She was a regular on the TV show Medical Centre during its first few seasons.

In the Seventies Jayne Meadows appeared regularly on her husband Steve Allen's show Meeting of the Minds. She appeared on the shows The New Temperatures Rising Show, Adam-12, The Tonight Show, The Girl with Something Extra, The Practice, Switch, The Hallmark Hall of Fame, The Paper Chase, Project U.F.O., and Hawaii Five-O. She appeared in the film Norman... Is That You? (1976).  She appeared one last time on Broadway in Once in a Lifetime.

In the Eighties Miss Meadows appeared on the TV shows Rise and Shine, Aloha Paradise, Trapper John, M.D., Fantasy Island, Hotel, Murder She Wrote, The Love Boat, and St. Elsewhere. She was a a a regular on the show It's Not Easy. She appeared in the films Da Capo (1985) and Murder by Numbers (1990). In the Nineties she appeared on the TV shows Civil Wars, Sisters, Vicki!, Tom. The Nanny, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Diagnosis Murder. She was a regular on the show High Society. She appeared in the films City Slickers (1991), For Goodness Sake (1993), City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994), and The Story of Us (1999).

Although many now are probably more familiar with her work on television, Jayne Meadows started her career in film.  What is more, she was an extremely versatile actress. In Lady in the Lake she played a femme fatale who was a true sociopath. In The Fat Man she was cast in a much more sympathetic role as a nurse. Her guest appearances on television shows also displayed her range as an actress. She played a reporter in the Suspense episode "F.O.B. Vienna" and on the Studio One episode "Drop of a Hat" she played the managing editor of a glossy fashion magazine. Throughout her career Jayne Meadows displayed a great talent for acting.

Of course, many today probably remember Jayne Meadows best as a television personality. From the Fifties to the Nineties she appeared on numerous game shows, talk shows, and variety shows. And she was certainly well suited as a television celebrity. Not only was Miss Meadows beautiful, but she was also vivacious, intelligent, and well spoken. She had one of the most wonderful voices on television, loud but very pleasant nonetheless. There should be little wonder that she was in so much demand for so long for television appearances. Gifted with looks, talent,and wit, she was perfect for the many panel shows and variety shows that proliferated from the Fifties to the Seventies.

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