Monday, August 31, 2015

"Our Gang" Actor Billy Laughlin 1948 Rose Hills Cemetery

William Robert "Billy" Laughlin (July 5, 1932 - August 31, 1948) was an American child actor. He is best known for playing the character Froggy in the Our Gang short films in its final stretch, from 1940 to 1944.

Early life

Laughlin was born on July 5, 1932 in San Gabriel, California, to Robert Vine Laughlin (August 28, 1901 - September 30, 1972) and Charlotte C. Cruikshank (March 11, 1903 - June 4, 1992). According to Our Gang Films actor Robert Blake,[1] Billy 'Froggy' Laughlin was a dearly loved, sweet, gentle soul. His mother and father showered his brother and him with love and affection.


Laughlin rose to fame at the age of eight when he appeared in his first Our Gang film, The New Pupil. His character was known for his strange, guttural voice, which was reminiscent of a frog's croak. Laughlin's last Our Gang short film was the last film of the series in 1944 called Dancing Romeo. Contrary to popular belief, Laughlin did the voice himself without dubbing (in the 1994 film, the character's voice was dubbed by E.G. Daily).

When Our Gang stopped production in 1944, Laughlin appeared in Monogram's Johnny Doesn't Live Here Any More, then voluntarily moved away from show business and enjoyed relatively peaceful teenage years.


Laughlin died at a hospital on August 31, 1948 after a speeding truck hit him while he was delivering newspapers and riding a Cushman Motor Scooter near his home in La Puente, California. John Wilbrand, a 16-year-old friend who was operating the scooter survived with minor injuries.[2][3][4] The scooter was given to Laughlin by his parents two weeks prior to the accident.[5] Laughlin lived the shortest life of the actors who appeared in the Our Gang films, dying at the age of 16. Laughlin is interred in a grave at the Rose Hills Memorial Park Cemetery in Whittier, California, in the same row as his parents.


1. Blake, Robert (2012). Tale of a Rascal: What I Did for Love. Black Rainbow Publications. p. 178. ISBN 0615591949. 
2. (09-02-1948)."Youth Dies From Injuries". La Puente Valley Journal. 
3. (10-05-1948). Certificate of Death No. 12160, William Laughlin, District 1951, County of Los Angeles, State of California. 
4. (09-02-1948)."Crash Kills Youth of 16". Los Angeles Times. 
5. Blake, Robert (2012). Tale of a Rascal: What I Did for Love. Black Rainbow Publications. p. 178. ISBN 0615591949.

Burlesque Dancer & Actress Sally Rand 1979 Oakdale Cemetery

Sally Rand (April 3, 1904[1] – August 31, 1979) was a burlesque dancer and actress, most noted for her ostrich feather fan dance and balloon bubble dance. She also performed under the name Billie Beck.

Early life

Hattie Helen Gould Beck was born in the village of Elkton, Hickory County, Missouri.[2] Her father, William Beck, was a West Point graduate and retired U.S. Army colonel, while her mother, Nettie (Grove) Beck, was a school teacher and part-time newspaper correspondent.[3] The family moved to Jackson County, Missouri while she was still in grade school.[4]

Helen got her start on the stage quite early, working as a chorus girl at Kansas City's Empress Theater when she was only 13. An early supporter of her talent was Goodman Ace, drama critic for the Kansas City Journal who saw her performing in a Kansas City nightclub and wrote glowing reviews. After studying ballet and drama in Kansas City, the teenage Helen decided her future lay in Hollywood. For a short time as she worked her way to the west coast, she was employed as an acrobat in the Ringling Brothers Circus.[3] She also performed in summer stock and traveling theater, including working with a then-unknown Humphrey Bogart.[5]


During the 1920s, she acted on stage and appeared in silent films. Cecil B. DeMille gave her the name Sally Rand, inspired by a Rand McNally atlas. She was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1927.

After the introduction of sound films, she became a dancer, known for the fan dance, which she popularized starting at the Paramount Club, at 15 E. Huron, in Chicago.[6] Her most famous appearance was at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, which was entitled Century of Progress. She would play peek-a-boo with her body by manipulating her fans in front and behind her, like a winged bird as she swooped and twirled on the stage, usually to "Clair de Lune."[7]She was arrested four times in a single day during the fair due to perceived indecent exposure after a fan dance performance and while riding a white horse down the streets of Chicago, where the nudity was only an illusion,[8] and again after being bodypainted by Max Factor, Sr. with his new make-up formulated for Hollywood films.[9] She also conceived and developed the bubble dance, in part to cope with wind while performing outdoors. She performed the fan dance on film in Bolero, released in 1934.[8]

In 1936, she purchased The Music Box burlesque hall in San Francisco, which would later become the Great American Music Hall. She starred in "Sally Rand's Nude Ranch" at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1939 and 1940.[10]

She was arrested twice in San Francisco in 1946; while performing at Club Savoy, she was arrested by six police officers in the audience as she danced, seemingly nude, in silhouette behind a large white fan; the judge granted her immunity should she be arrested for the same offense while on trial; however she was arrested during a night of the trial while performing her act, despite her immunity and the fact that she was wearing long underwear and a note that read "CENSORED. S.F.P.D." that time. In an unusual move, the judge viewed her performance at the Savoy and cleared her of all charges after deeming that "anyone who could find something lewd about the dance as she puts it on has to have a perverted idea of morals."[11]

She appeared on television in March 12, 1957, in episode 13 of the first season of To Tell the Truth with host Bud Collyer and panelists Polly Bergen, Ralph Bellamy, Kitty Carlisle, and Carl Reiner.[12] She did not "stump the panel" but was correctly identified by all four panelists (she was introduced as Helen Beck, her birth name).

She continued to appear on stage doing her fan dance into the 1970s. Rand once replaced Ann Corio in the stage show, This Was Burlesque, appeared at the Mitchell Brothers club in San Francisco in the early 1970s and toured as one of the stars of the 1972 nostalgia revue "Big Show of 1928," which played major concert venues, including New York's Madison Square Garden.


Rand died on August 31, 1979, at Foothill Presbyterian Hospital, in Glendora, California, aged 75, from congestive heart failure.[13] She was deeply in debt at her death. Rand's adopted son told an interviewer that Sammy Davis, Jr., stepped in and wrote a $10,000 check which took care of Rand's expenses.[14] She is buried in Oakdale Memorial Park in Glendora, California. 



Football play

Football coaches at the University of Delaware named a football play after Sally Rand. One explanation is that the play misdirected the defence, or in other words, like the dancer herself, the offence was showing more than they actually had.[15] The name migrated to Canada, where a "naked bootleg" became known as a "Sally Rand" and was used to great effect by the B.C. Lions.[16]

In popular culture

In Tex Avery's cartoon Hollywood Steps Out (1941), a rotoscoped Rand performs her famous bubble dance onstage to an appreciative crowd. A grinning Peter Lorre caricature in the front row comments, "I haven't seen such a beautiful bubble since I was a child." The routine continues until the bubble is suddenly popped by Harpo Marx and his slingshot, with a surprised Rand (her nudity covered by a well-placed wooden barrel) reacting with shock. Rand is referred to as "Sally Strand" here. Closer to the beginning of the cartoon, a coat check girl says "Good evening, Miss Rand," as we see a woman's hand offer her a set of feather fans to hang up.

She was the model of several characters in Robert A. Heinlein's science fiction stories, such as the Mary-Lou Martin character of "Let There Be Light." She was also a guest of Robert and Virginia Heinlein at 1976's 34th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Kansas City, Missouri, where Robert Heinlein was the Guest of Honor; at that Worldcon, she served as a judge for the convention's masquerade costume contest. She was also included in Heinlein's final book, To Sail Beyond The Sunset, as a friend of main character, Maureen Johnson Long, mother of the character Lazarus Long.

In the 1979 book The Right Stuff, the author Tom Wolfe described Sally Rand fan-dancing for the first American astronauts and other dignitaries and referred to the astronauts observing this sixtyish woman's "ancient haunches." In the 1983 film version of The Right Stuff, Rand was portrayed by actress Peggy Davis.

A fictionalized version of Rand appeared in Toni Dove's interactive cinema project Spectropia, played by Helen Pickett of the Wooster Group.

In the 1936 Merrie Melodie cartoon Page Miss Glory, a robustly proportioned matron performs a parody of Rand's fan dance.

In the "Nathan Heller" mystery series by Max Allan Collins, Detective Heller meets Sally Rand.


The Dressmaker from Paris (1925) 

The Texas Bearcat (1925) 
The Road to Yesterday (1925) 
Braveheart (1925) 
Bachelor Brides (1926) 
Sunny Side Up (1926) 
Gigolo (1926) 
Man Bait (1927) 
The Night of Love (1927) 
Getting Gertie's Garter (1927) 
The Yankee Clipper (1927) 
The King of Kings (1927) 
His Dog (1927) 
The Fighting Eagle (1927) 
Galloping Fury (1927) 
Heroes in Blue (1927) 
The Czarina's Secret (1928) (short film) 
A Woman Against the World (1928) 
Nameless Men (1928) 
A Girl in Every Port (1928) 
Golf Widows (1928) 
Black Feather (1928) 
The Sign of the Cross (1932) 
Hotel Variety (1933) 
Bolero (1934) 
Sunset Murder Case (1938)


1. Born April 3, 1904 per SSDI under the name Helen Beck; SS#349-10-3000. According to the 1920 U.S. census, her parents were William F. and Lillie Beck, and she had a younger brother, Harold; the family was then residing in Jackson County, Missouri, not Hickory County. 

2. Gold, Sylviane (27 June 2004). "The Figure Behind the Fan: Celebrating Sally Rand". The New York Times. 
3. Dictionary of Missouri Biography, Lawrence O. Christensen, University of Missouri Press, 1999. 
4. "United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch, Helen H Beck in household of William F Beck, Kansas Ward 13, Jackson, Missouri, United States; citing sheet, family 320, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374803.". 
5. "Sally Rand museum recalls fan-tabulous fan dancer". Discover Mid-America magazine. February 2007. 
6. Price, Ryan Lee (2012). Stories of Old Glendora. Charlston, SC: The History Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-60949-533-6. 
7. Zemeckis, Leslie (2013). [ Behind The Burly Q]. Delaware: Skyhorse. ISBN 978-1-62087-691-6. 
8. Ganz, Cheryl R. (2006). The 1933 Chicago World's Fair: A Century of Progress. University of Illinois Press. pp. 16–26, 161–64. ISBN 978-0-252-07852-1. 
9. Basten, Fred E. (2012). Max Factor: The Man Who Changed the Faces of the World. New York: Arcade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61145-135-1. 
10. "Sally Rand and The Music Box", Virtual Museum of San Francisco 
11. Ryan, Bernard Jr. (1995). Knappman, Edward W., ed. American Trials of the 20th Century. New England Publishing Associates. pp. 201–203. ISBN 1-57859-052-3. 
12. "Sally Rand", Internet Movie Database 
13. "Sally Rand Dies of Heart Failure". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 2. 
14. Behind the Burly Q , a film on some of the history of Burlesque, by Leslie Zemeckis,c.2010 interview with Rand's son 
15. Sally Rand article at 
16. BC Lions article

Further Reading

Knox, Holly. Sally Rand, From Films to Fans. Maverick Publications (1988); ISBN 0-89288-172-0

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cosmetics Businessman Max Factor Sr. 1938 Hillside Cemetery

Max Factor (September 15, 1872 (77?) – August 30, 1938), born Maksymilian Faktorowicz, was a Polish-Jewish businessman. Founder of the cosmetics giant Max Factor and Company, he largely developed the modern cosmetics industry and popularized the term make-up in noun form based on the verb.

Early life

Factor, of Jewish descent, was born in Zduńska Wola, Poland, to Abraham Faktorowicz (1850/52–before 1938) and Cecylia Tandowska.[1] His mother died in 1874 and his father, a hard-working grocer, rabbi or textile mill worker (depending upon the source), could not afford a formal education for his four children.

By the age of eight years old, Factor was working as an assistant to a dentist/pharmacist.[2] At the age of nine, he was apprenticed to a Łódź’s wig maker and cosmetician. That experience enabled him to gain a position at Anton's of Berlin, a leading hairstylist and cosmetics creator. By the age of fourteen, he was working at Korpo, a Moscow wig maker and cosmetician to the Imperial Russian Grand Opera. He spent the years from eighteen to twenty-two undertaking his compulsory military service in the Russian Army, where he served in the Hospital Corps.

Upon his discharge, he opened his own shop in the town of Ryazan' near Moscow, selling hand-made rouges, creams, fragrances, and wigs. He became well-known when a traveling theatrical troupe wore Factor’s cosmetics to perform for Russian nobility. The Russian nobility appointed Factor the official cosmetics expert for the royal family and the Imperial Russian Grand Opera, an honor which led to him being closely monitored. He married Esther Rosa (whom he called Lizzie) and by early 1904 they had produced three children, Freda, Cecilia and Davis.[3] By 1904 concerned about the increasing anti-Jewish persecution developing in Russia he and his wife decided to follow his brother Nathan and uncle Fischel to America. Worried that he would not be released from his royal service, he arranged with the assistance of a friend to take a rest cure at Karlovy Vary. After meeting up with his family they traveled in the steerage class on board the S.S. Moltke III and were processed at Ellis Island on February 25, 1904; he had $40,000 in his possession.[4] Upon arrival, his name was shortened by the customs inspector to "Factor."

Life in America

Factor made a new start in St. Louis, Missouri. The Factor family never returned to Europe.

He sold his rouges and creams at the 1904 World’s Fair, operating under the newly re-spelled name Max Factor. Unfortunately, his partner in the venture stole all of his stock and the profits. With assistance from his brother and uncle, Factor recovered and opened a barber's shop. In August 1904 Max and his wife had their fourth child, Francis "Frank" Factor. However, on March 17, 1906, his wife collapsed and died from a brain hemorrhage. Anxious to provide a mother for his four children, he married Huma "Helen" Sradkowska on August 15, 1906.[5] Despite the birth of Louis on August 29, 1907, the marriage was short lived and ended in a prolonged court battle, as result of which Factor obtained custody of all of his children.

Max Factor and Jean Harlow

Creation of an empire

On January 21, 1908, Factor married Jennie Cook (March 1, 1886 – December 3, 1949), a neighbor.

Later that year Factor moved his family to Los Angeles, California, seeing an opportunity to provide made-to-order wigs and theatrical make-up to the growing film industry. Initially he established a shop on South Central Avenue, advertising the business as “Max Factor’s Antiseptic Hair Store.” Founding Max Factor and Company in 1909, he soon became the West Coast distributor of Leichner and Minor, two leading theatrical make-up manufacturers. Greasepaint in stick form, although the accepted make-up for use on the stage, could not be applied thinly enough, nor were the colors appropriate, to work satisfactorily on the screen during the early years of movie-making.

Factor began experimenting with various compounds in an effort to develop a suitable make-up for the new film medium. By 1914 he had perfected the first cosmetic specifically created for motion picture use — a thinner greasepaint in cream form, packaged in a jar, and created in 12 precisely-graduated shades. Unlike theatrical cosmetics, it would not crack or cake.

With this major achievement to his credit, Max Factor became the authority on cosmetics for film making. Soon, movie stars were eager to sample the “flexible greasepaint,” while movie producers sought Factor’s human hair wigs. He allowed the wigs to be rented to the producers of old Westerns, on the condition that his sons were given parts. The boys would watch the expensive wigs.

Factor marketed a range of cosmetics to the public during the 1920s, insisting that every girl could look like a movie star by using Max Factor cosmetics.

In the early years of the business Factor personally applied his products to actors and actresses. He developed a reputation for being able to customize makeup to present actors and actresses in the best possible light on screen. Among his most notable clients were Ben Turpin, Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Pola Negri, Jean Harlow, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Judy Garland. As a result virtually all of the major movie actresses were regular customers of the Max Factor beauty salon, located near Hollywood Boulevard. Max Factor's name appeared on many movie credits, and Factor appeared in some cameos.

He became a United States citizen in 1912. In 1920 Max Factor gave into Frank Factor’s suggestion and officially began referring to his products as "make-up." Up until then, the term "cosmetics" had been used: The term ”make-up” was considered to be used only by people in the theatre or of dubious reputation, not something to be used in polite society.


In 1938 Mr. Factor was traveling in Europe on business with his son Davis when during a stopover in Paris he received a note demanding money in exchange for his life. An attempt was made by the police using a decoy to capture the extortionist but no one turned up at the agreed drop-off point to collect the money. Factor was so shaken by the threat that he returned at the behest of a local doctor to America, where upon arrival he took to his bed. Factor died at the age of 65 in Beverly Hills, California, in August, and was originally interred in the Beth Olem mausoleum at the Hollywood Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. His remains were moved many years later to Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California[6]

Honors and tributes

The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts, and Sciences presented Max Factor with an honorary Academy Award in 1929 for his contributions to the film industry. Additionally, Max Factor is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6922 Hollywood Boulevard). Max Factor is mentioned in the classic song, "Hooray For Hollywood." In a reference to his creation of Clara Bow's heart-shaped lips, the song states, "To be an actor / See Mr. Factor / He'll make your pucker look good!"


Max Factor had six children: Freda Shore (January 22, 1898 – June 18, 1988),[7] Cecilia Firestein ( October 17, 1899 – May 28, 1984), Davis Factor (February 2, 1902 – August 31, 1991), Francis “Frank” Factor (later known as Max Factor, Jr.; 1904–1996), Louis Factor (August 29, 1907 – December 4, 1975), and Sidney B. Factor (February 14, 1916 – December 15, 2005).[8]

His half-brother John (October 8, 1892 – January 22, 1984) was a Prohibition-era gangster and con artist affiliated with the Chicago Outfit.


2. Basten, page 1. 
3. Basten, page 6. 
4. Basten, page 10. 
5. Basten, page 18 
6. Basten, page 122 

Further reading

Baxten, Fred E (2008). Max Factor - The Man who Changed the Faces of the World. New York: Arcade Publishing. pp. 172 pages. ISBN 978-1-55970-875-3. 
Kent, Jacqueline C. (2003). Business Builders in Cosmetics. Minneapolis: Oliver Press. pp. 160 pages. ISBN 1-881508-82-X. 
Updike, John: “Makeup and Make-Believe“. The New Yorker, Sept 1 2008, Pages 124 to 128.

"White Christmas" Actress/Dancer Vera-Ellen 1981 Glen Haven Cemetery

Vera-Ellen (February 16, 1921 – August 30, 1981) was an American actress and dancer, principally celebrated for her lithe figure and animated performances with partners Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, and Donald O'Connor. She is best known for her starring roles in On the Town with Kelly and the 1954 blockbuster White Christmas with Kaye (below).

Early life

Vera-Ellen Westmeier Rohe was born in Norwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, to Martin F. Rohe, a piano dealer,[2] and Alma Catherine Westmeier, both descended from German immigrants.[3] Her hyphenated name originated in her mother's dream in which she had a daughter named "Vera-Ellen."[4]

She began dancing at age 10 and quickly became proficient. (One of her fellow dance students at Hessler Studio of Dancing was Doris Day.[5]) At age 13 she was a winner on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour[6] and embarked upon a professional career.



In 1939, she made her Broadway debut in the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein musical Very Warm for May. She became one of the youngest Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, although she was only 5'4."[7][8] This led to roles on Broadway in Panama Hattie, By Jupiter, and A Connecticut Yankee, where she was spotted by Samuel Goldwyn, who cast her opposite Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in the 1945 film Wonder Man.


She danced with Gene Kelly in the Hollywood musicals Words and Music (above) and On the Town, while also appearing in the last Marx Brothers film, Love Happy. She received top billing alongside Fred Astaire in the musicals Three Little Words and The Belle of New York. She had a co-starring role with Donald O'Connor in the Ethel Merman vehicle, Call Me Madam. Vera-Ellen's second to last film role was the 1954 blockbuster hit White Christmas, co-starring with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. She starred in only one more film, the 1957 British production Let's Be Happy (below).[6]


Vera-Ellen performed on a November 22, 1958, television episode of The Perry Como Show[9] and a February 14, 1959, broadcast of the The Dinah Shore Show.[10]

Personal life

She was married twice. Her first husband was a fellow dancer, Robert Hightower, from February 1941 to November 1946.[11]

Her second husband, from 1954 to their 1966 divorce, was millionaire Victor Rothschild (above) of the Rothschild family. While married to Rothschild, she gave birth to a daughter, Victoria Ellen, who died at three months of age from SIDS in 1963. Following the death of her only child, she withdrew from public life. The marriage between Vera-Ellen and Rothschild ended in divorce.[12]

Vera-Ellen suffered from anorexia before much was known about the disease. She was celebrated for her lithe figure at the time. Vera-Ellen also developed severe arthritis due to a combination of years of her dancing and anorexia.[13]


She died from cancer at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on August 30, 1981,[6] at age sixty. Her interment was at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Sylmar, California.


Wonder Man (1945) 
The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) 
Three Little Girls in Blue (1946) 
Carnival in Costa Rica (1947) 
Words and Music (1948) 
Love Happy (1949) 
On the Town (1949) 
Three Little Words (1950) 
Happy Go Lovely (1951) 
The Belle of New York (1952) 
Call Me Madam (1953) 
Big Leaguer (1953) 
White Christmas (1954) 
Let's Be Happy (1957) 

Stage work

Very Warm for May (1939) 
Higher and Higher (1940) 
Panama Hattie (1940) 
By Jupiter (1942) 
A Connecticut Yankee (1943) 

Radio appearances

Stars over Hollywood 
Hasty Retreat[14]


1. "Vera-Ellen, Dancer in Movies". The New York Times ( 2 September 1980. p. 17. 
2. Handsaker, Gene (March 22, 1946). "Hollywood". Altoona Tribune. p. 14. 
3. Soren, David (2003). Vera-Ellen: The Magic and the Mystery. Luminary Press. 
4. West, Alice (April 12, 1953). "Behind Scenes at Hollywood". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. p. 20. 
5. Kiesewetter, John (December 13, 2012). "Vera-Ellen danced into hearts". 
6. "Vera-Ellen dead at age 55". Ukiah Daily Journal. September 1, 1981. p. 17. 
8. Several other sources cite her height as 4'11". Unless wearing ballet flats in a dance sequence, she invariably wore very high heels which minimized her short stature. 
9. "Perry Como Show". The Decatur Daily Review. November 22, 1958. p. 6. 
10. "(untitled TV listing)". The Oregon Statesman. February 14, 1959. p. 11. 
11. cf. Soren, pp. 71-72: "The stable, happy marriage with Bob Hightower lasted from their wedding day on February 4, 1941 (some sources say February 1942 or March 17, 1943) to their official separation in 1946 ... Photos of ... Vera Ellen hit the newspapers on November 28, 1946, when a default divorce was granted in Los Angeles" 
12. "Victor Bennett Rothschild". Find A Grave. 
13. "Vera-Ellen Biography". IMDB. 
14. Kirby, Walter (May 10, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. 

Further reading

Oderman, Stuart, Talking to the Piano Player 2. BearManor Media, 2009. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Singin' in the Rain" Actress Jean Hagen 1977 Chapel of the Pines

Jean Hagen (August 3, 1923 – August 29, 1977) was an American actress best known for her role as Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain (1952) (below) for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and for her Emmy Award nominated role as Margaret Williams on the television series Make Room For Daddy. [1]

Early life

Hagen was born as Jean Shirley Verhagen in Chicago, to Christian Verhagen (born August 10, 1890 – died April 1983), a Dutch immigrant, and his Chicago-born wife, Marie. The family moved to Elkhart, Indiana, when she was 12, and she subsequently graduated from Elkhart High School. She studied drama at Northwestern University, where she was a roommate of actress Patricia Neal, graduating in 1945,[2] and worked as a theater usherette.



Hagen began her show business career in radio in the 1940s, performing in Light of the World, Hollywood Story, and other programs.[3] Using her maiden name (Jean Verhagen), she played Betty Webster on Those Websters.[4]


Hagen first appeared on Broadway in Swan Song. She also acted in Another Part of the Forest, Ghosts, Born Yesterday,[3][5] and The Traitor[6]

Film and television

Her film debut was as a comical femme fatale in Adam's Rib (above) in 1949. The Asphalt Jungle (1950) (below) provided Hagen with her first starring role beside Sterling Hayden, with excellent reviews, playing "Doll" Conover, a woman who sticks by criminal Dix's side until the bitter end. 

She appeared in the film noir Side Street (1950) (below) playing a gangster's sincere, but none-too-bright, nightclub-singer girlfriend.

Hagen is best remembered for her comic performance in Singin' in the Rain as the vain and talentless silent movie star Lina Lamont; she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

By 1953, she had joined the cast of the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy (above). As the first wife of Danny Thomas, Hagen received three Emmy Award nominations, but after three seasons, she grew dissatisfied and left the series. Thomas, who also produced the show, reportedly did not appreciate Jean's departing the successful series, and her character was killed off rather than recast. This was the first TV character to be killed off in a family sitcom.[citation needed] Marjorie Lord was cast a year later as Danny's second wife and played opposite Thomas successfully for the remainder of the series.

Hagen starred in the 1957 Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Season 3, Episode 7, entitled "Enough Rope for Two" as a woman accompanied by two thieves trying to retrieve stolen money from a desert mine shaft. In 1960, she appeared as Elizabeth in the episode "Once Upon a Knight" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson, and guest-starred on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show (below).

Although she made frequent guest appearances in various television series, Hagen was unable to successfully resume her film career. After appearing with Fred MacMurray in the family comedy The Shaggy Dog, for the remainder of her career she played supporting roles, such as Marguerite LeHand, personal secretary to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello (1960), and the friend of Bette Davis in Dead Ringer (1964). In the 1960s, Hagen's health began to decline and she spent many years hospitalized or under medical care.

In 1976, she made a comeback of sorts playing character roles in episodes of the television series Starsky and Hutch and The Streets of San Francisco, and made her final film appearance in the 1977 television movie Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn.

Personal life

Jean Hagen married Tom Seidel on June 12, 1947, in Brentwood, and proceeded to have two children, Christine Patricia (born August 26, 1950) and Aric Phillip (August 19, 1952-September 9, 2012). After a marriage full of domestic violence, she divorced Seidel on November 1, 1965, in Los Angeles.


Hagen died of esophageal cancer on August 29, 1977, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital[3] and was intombed in Chapel of the Pines Crematory.


Hagen was nominated for a 1956 Emmy Award in the "Best actress (continuing performance)" category.[7] She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1502 Vine Street for her contributions to television.


1. Obituary Variety, September 7, 1977, page 111.
2. "Northwestern Co-Eds Train For The Stage; Inspired By Achievements Of Some Grads". Lubbock Evening Journal. January 12, 1950. p. 11. 
3. "Jean Hagen, former actress, dies at 54". The Lowell Sun. August 31, 1977. p. 43. 
4. "'Those Websters,' American Family Heard Fridays at 9:30 P.M. on WHP". Harrisburg Telegraph. March 3, 1945. p. 15. 
5. "Jean Hagen Is Delighted To Get Bad Woman Role". Corsicana Daily Sun. May 6, 1955. p. 9. 
6. "Broadway Openings: The Traitor". Billboard. April 9, 1949. p. 57. 
7. "'Emmy' Award Nominations Announced" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 27, 1956. p. 93. 
8. Kirby, Walter (February 10, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. 2015

TV, 1957, Madge Griffin, "Enough Rope for Two", Alfred Hitchcock Presents.