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Jeanne Crain Biography

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Birth Name(s) : Jeanne Crain Date of Birth: May 25, 1925
Status:  Married Partner: Paul Brinkman
Profession: Actor
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Full Jeanne Crain Biography
Jeanne Crain was born in Barstow, California on May 25, 1925. The daughter of a high school English teacher and his wife, Jeanne was moved to Los Angeles not long after her birth after her father got another teaching position in that city. While in junior high school, Jeanne played the lead in a school production which set her on the path to acting. When she was in high school Jeanne was asked to take a screen test to appear in a film by Orson Welles. Unfortunately, she didn't get the part, it did set her sights on being a movie actress. After her high school career, Jeanne enrolled at UCLA to study drama. At the age of 18, Jeanne won a bit part in Fox Studio's film entitled THE GANG'S ALL HERE (1943) and a small contract.

Her next film saw Jeanne elevated to a more substantial part in HOME IN INDIANA the following year, which was filmed in neighboring Kentucky. The movie was an unquestionable hit. On the strength of that box-office success, Jeanne was given a raise and star billing, as Maggie Preston, in the next film of 1944, IN THE MEANTIME, DARLING. Unfortunately, the critics not only roasted the film, but singled out Jeanne's performance in particular. She rebounded nicely in her last film of the year, WINGED VICTORY. The audiences loved it and the film was profitable. In 1945, Jeanne was cast in STATE FAIR as Margie Frake who travels to the fair and falls in love with a reporter played by Dana Andrews. Now, Jeanne got a bigger contract and more recognition. Later that year, Jeanne married Paul Brinkman on New Year's Eve. Although her mother wasn't supportive of the marriage, the union has lasted to this day and produced seven children.

1947 was an off year for Jeanne as she took time off to bear the Brinkman's first child. In 1949, Jeanne appeared in three films, A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, THE FAN, and PINKY. It was this latter film which garnered her an Oscar nomination as Best Actress for her role as Pinky Johnson, a nurse who sets up a clinic in the Deep South. She lost to Olivia de Havilland for THE HEIRESS. Jeanne left Fox after filming VICKI in 1953, with Jean Peters. She had made 23 films for the studio that started her career, but she needed a well-deserved change. As with any good artist, Jeanne wanted to expand her range instead of playing the girl-next-door types. She went briefly to Warner Brothers for the filming of DUEL IN THE JUNGLE in 1954. The film was lukewarm at best. Jeanne, then, signed a contract, that same year, with Universal Studios with promises of better, high profile roles. She went into production in the film MAN WITHOUT A STAR which was a hit with audiences and critics. After THE JOKER IS WILD in 1957, Jeanne took time off for her family and to appear in a few television programs. She returned, briefly, to film GUNS OF THE TIMBERLAND in 1960. The films were sporadic after that. In 1967, she appeared in a low budget suspense yarn called HOT RODS TO HELL. Her final film to date was as Clara Shaw in 1972's SKYJACKED. Currently, Jeanne lives in quiet retirement in Southern California.
Additional Jeanne Crain Biography
Crain was born in Barstow, California to George A. Crain (a school teacher) and Loretta Carr; she was of Irish heritage on her mother's side, and of English and distant French descent on her father's. She moved to Los Angeles as a young child. An excellent ice skater, Crain first attracted attention when she was crowned Miss Pan Pacific at L.A.'s Pan Pacific Auditorium. Later, while still in high school, she was asked to make a screen test opposite Orson Welles. She did not get the part, but in 1943, at the age of 18, she appeared in a bit part in the movie The Gang's All Here.

In 1944 she starred in Home in Indiana and In the Meantime, Darling. Her acting was critically panned, but she rebounded in the hit Winged Victory. During World War II, Crain's fan mail was second in volume only to that of Betty Grable. In 1945 she co- starred with Dana Andrews in State Fair, and Leave Her to Heaven with Gene Tierney. In 1949 she starred in three films: A Letter to Three Wives, The Fan, and Pinky, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Pinky was a controversial movie, since it told the story of a light-skinned African-American young woman who passes for white in the northern United States. Although Lena Horne and other black actresses were considered for the role, Darryl F. Zanuck chose to cast a white actress for box-office reasons.

In 1950, Crain starred opposite Myrna Loy and Clifton Webb in Cheaper by the Dozen. Next, Crain paired up with Cary Grant, for the Joseph L. Mankiewicz production of People Will Talk (1951). Crain was again teamed with Loy in Belles on Their Toes (1952), the sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen.

While still at Fox, Crain gave an excellent performance as a young wife quickly losing her mind amidst high seas intrigue in Dangerous Crossing, co-starring Michael Rennie. Crain then starred in a string of pictures for Universal Pictures, including notable pairings with Kirk Douglas, such as Man Without a Star (1955).

In 1956, Crain starred opposite Glenn Ford, Russ Tamblyn, and Broderick Crawford in the compelling Western, The Fastest Gun Alive. The film was directed by Russell Rouse. In 1957, she was a socialite who helps a crushed singer (Frank Sinatra) redeem himself in The Joker Is Wild.

In 1959, Crain appeared in a prestigious CBS Television Special production of Meet Me in St. Louis. Also starring in the broadcast were Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon, Jane Powell, and Ed Wynn. A sign of the times: top-billing on the program went to co-star Tab Hunter!

As a lifelong devout Roman Catholic, Jeanne Crain Brinkman and her husband Paul remained married, though they lived separately in Santa Barbara, California, until Brinkman's death in October of 2003. Crain died a few months later and it was later confirmed that the cause was a heart attack. Crain's funeral Mass was held at the Old Santa Barbara Mission. Crain is buried in the Brinkman family plot at Santa Barbara Cemetery. The couple outlived two of their children. The Brinkmans were survived by five adult children, including Paul Brinkman Jr., a successful television executive, most known for his work on CBS TV's JAG. Crain was also survived by many grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Crain's eldest grandaughter, actress and singer/songwriter Bret Crain, set up a website dedicated to Crain's memory: jeannecrain.org. On the website one can read about Bret's fond memories of her grandmother. Bret Crain can be seen being interviewed on the upcoming DVD release of Jeanne Crain's "Dangerous Crossing." Bret Crain is married to and has three children with Gabor Csupo, producer of "The Rugrats" and director of "Bridge to Terrabithia". Gabor Csupo is currently slated to direct "Moon Princess."

Crain's career is fully documented by an extraordinary collection of memorabilia about her assembled by the late Charles J. Finlay (longtime publicist at 20th Century Fox). The Jeanne Crain collection resides perpetually at the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives in Middletown, Connecticut. These archives also hold the papers of Frank Capra, Ingrid Bergman, Clint Eastwood, and others.
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