Jean Parker (born Luise Stephanie Zelinska, August 11, 1915 – November 30, 2005) was an American film and stage actress. She landed her first screen test while still in high school. She acted opposite such well-known actors as Katharine Hepburn, Robert Donat, Edward G. Robinson, Randolph Scott, and Laurel and Hardy. She was married four times and had one son, Robert Lowery Hanks. She was also known as Lois Mae Green.
Parker was born in Deer Lodge, Montana as Lois Mae Green. Both her father, Lewis, who was variously a gunsmith, a hunter and a chef, and her mother, Melvina Burch, one of 18 children of a pioneer family, were unemployed during the depression of the 1930s. She attended Pasadena schools and graduated from John Muir High School. Her original aspirations were in the fine arts and illustration.
Parker appeared in 70 movies from 1932 through 1966. In 1932, she posed as a flower girl and living poster in a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade, where she was seen by Ida Koverman, secretary to MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer. The following day the studio called her on the phone and invited her for a screen test.
Utilizing her artistic talents, Parker contracted in June 1935 to make eight original sketches a month for a Beverly Hills shop.
Parker's film debut came in Divorce in the Family (1932). She had a successful career at MGM, RKO and Columbia including roles in such films as Little Women, Lady for a Day, Gabriel Over the White House, Limehouse Blues, The Ghost Goes West, and Rasputin and the Empress.
In 1939, she starred opposite Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in RKO's The Flying Deuces. She auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Melanie in Gone with the Wind. On November 9, 1939 she opened the Downtown Theatre in Oakland, California, and in December 1941, at the Orinda Theater in Contra Costa County.
Parker remained active in film throughout the 1940s, playing opposite Lon Chaney in Dead Man's Eyes, and a variety of other films.
Parker managed her own airport and flying service with then-husband Doug Dawson in Palm Springs, California until shortly after the start of World War II. During the war, she toured many of the veteran hospitals throughout the U.S. and performed on radio.
In the 1950s, Parker co-starred opposite Edward G. Robinson in Black Tuesday; had a small but effective role in The Gunfighter, and appeared in A Lawless Street (1955). Her last film appearance was Apache Uprising (1966).
Parker also appeared on Broadway. In 1949, she replaced Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday on Broadway and enjoyed a successful run in this classic. She appeared on Broadway opposite Bert Lahr in the play Burlesque. She did summer stock in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, toured in the play Candlelight and Loco, and performed on stage in other professional productions. In 1954, Parker played the role of "Cattle Kate Watson of Wyoming" in an episode of the syndicated television series Stories of the Century, the first western program to win an Emmy Award. The series starred and was narrated by Jim Davis. Later in her career and life, Parker continued a successful stint on the West Coast theatre circuit and worked as an acting coach.
In December 1935, Parker became engaged to New York socialite newspaperman George E. McDonald, and eloped with him to Las Vegas on March 22, 1936. McDonald continued his business affairs on the East Coast, and after less than four years of marriage, Parker was granted an interlocutory decree of divorce on January 23, 1940. On February 14, 1941, Parker married Los Angeles radio commentator Henry Dawson Sanders, known professionally as Doug Dawson. The couple operated a flying service from Palm Springs Airport in California, which was shuttered at the outbreak of World War II.
In July 1942, her husband joined the Coast Guard, and in September 1942 they separated and were divorced in July 1943. A month after she was granted her final divorce decree on July 29, 1944, Parker married Dr. Kurt "Curtis" Arthur Grotter, a Hollywood insurance broker and former correspondent for a group of Czechoslovakian newspapers and active with the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, as he had a substantial loss of vision. They were separated on June 19, 1949, and divorced on December 29, 1949. On May 19, 1951, she secretly married actor Robert Lowery (born Robert Hanks), at the home of a friend in Hialeah, Florida. Lowery had played Batman in 1949; he was featured in over seventy films in his own career. By this marriage, Parker bore her only child, Robert Lowery Hanks.
While appearing at a nightclub in Sydney, Australia in 1951, Parker made international headlines when she was escorted off Bondi Beach by swimsuit inspector Abe Laidlaw, who measured her bikini and determined it was too skimpy.
In 1952, Parker gave birth to a son, Robert Lowery Hanks. She and Lowery filed for divorce in September 1957, but it was never finalized.
At age 83, Parker moved into the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, where she died of a stroke on November 30, 2005, at the age of 90. She was survived by her son, Robert, and granddaughters Katie and Nora Hanks. She was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.
Year Title Role Notes
1932 Rasputin and the Empress Princess Maria Uncredited
1932 Divorce in the Family Lucile
1933 Gabriel Over the White House Alice Bronson
1933 The Secret of Madame Blanche Eloise
1933 Made on Broadway Adele
1933 What Price Innocence? Ruth Harper
1933 Storm at Daybreak Danitza
1933 Lady for a Day Louise
1933 Little Women Elizabeth "Beth" March
1934 Two Alone Mazy
1934 You Can't Buy Everything Elizabeth "Beth" Burton Bell
1934 Lazy River Sarah Lescalle
1934 Operator 13 Eleanor Shackleford 1934 Have a Heart Sally Moore
1934 Caravan Timka
1934 A Wicked Woman Rosanne
1934 Limehouse Blues Toni
1935 Princess O'Hara Princess O'Hara
1935 Murder in the Fleet Betty Lansing
1935 The Ghost Goes West Peggy Martin
1935 The Texas Rangers Amanda Bailey
1936 The Farmer in the Dell Adie Boye
1937 Life Begins with Love Carole Martin
1937 The Barrier Necia Gale
1938 Penitentiary Elizabeth Mathews
1938 Romance of the Limberlost Laurie
1938 The Arkansas Traveler Judy Allen
1939 Romance of the Redwoods June Martin
1939 Zenobia Mary Tibbett
1939 Flight at Midnight Maxine Scott
1939 The Flying Deuces Georgette
1939 Parents on Trial Susan Wesley
1940 Knights of the Range Holly Ripple
1940 Son of the Navy Stevie Moore
1940 Beyond Tomorrow Jean Lawrence
1940 Young America Files Jane Short film
1941 Roar of the Press Alice Williams
1941 Power Dive Carol Blake
1941 The Pittsburgh Kid Patricia Mallory
1941 Flying Blind Shirley Brooks
1942 Torpedo Boat Grace Holman
1942 I Live on Danger Susan Richards
1942 The Girl from Alaska Mary 'Pete' McCoy
1942 Hello, Annapolis Doris Henley
1942 Tomorrow We Live Julie Bronson
1942 Hi, Neighbor Dorothy Greenfield
1942 Wrecking Crew Peggy Starr
1942 The Traitor Within Molly Betts
1943 High Explosive Connie Baker
1943 Alaska Highway Ann Coswell
1943 Minesweeper Mary Smith
1943 The Deerslayer Judith Hutter
1944 The Navy Way Ellen Sayre
1944 Lady in the Death House Mary Kirk Logan
1944 Detective Kitty O'Day Kitty O'Day
1944 Oh, What a Night Valerie
1944 Dead Man's Eyes Heather Hayden
1944 Bluebeard Lucille Lutien
1944 One Body Too Many Carol Dunlap
1945 Adventures of Kitty O'Day Kitty O'Day
1946 Rolling Home Frances Crawford
1950 The Gunfighter Molly
1952 Toughest Man in Arizona Della
1953 Those Redheads From Seattle Liz
1954 Black Tuesday Hattie Combest
1955 A Lawless Street Cora Dean
1957 The Parson and the Outlaw Mrs. Sarah Jones
1965 Apache Uprising Mrs. Hawks
1. "Obituary: Jean Parker". The Guardian. December 13, 2005.
2. Kear, Lynn; Rossman, John (2008). The Complete Kay Francis Career Record: All Film, Stage, Radio and Television Appearances. McFarland. p. 255. ISBN 9780786431984.
3. Obituary, theguardian.com, December 13, 2005
4. "Jean Parker profile".
5. "Jean Parker, Stage and Film Actress, Is Dead at 90 - Playbill". Playbill.
6. McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television. New York: Penguin. p. 793. ISBN 978-0-14-024916-3. 7. "Jean Parker Becomes Bride of News Man". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times. March 23, 1936. p. Part II - 3.
8. Press, The Associated (13 December 2005). "Jean Parker, Movie Actress, Is Dead at 90" – via NYTimes.com.
9. "Actress Sent off Bondi Beach". The Age. November 3, 1951. p. 3.
10. Marks, Kathy (December 31, 2008). "Topless wars reignited on Australia's beaches". The Independent. London, UK.
11. "Jean Parker ordered off beach". The Sun (13, 030). New South Wales, Australia. 2 November 1951. p. 2 (LATE FINAL EXTRA).
12. Jean Parker at Find a Grave