Jeanne Crain Dies

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Peter Kline, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

    Feb 9, 1999
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    Oscar-Nominated Actress Jeanne Crain Dies

    Associated Press, December 14, 2003

    LOS ANGELES -- Jeanne Crain, the winsome beauty who starred in
    lightweight 1940s romances and comedies and won an Academy Award
    nomination as a black girl passing for white in the controversial
    "Pinky," has died. She was 78.

    Crain, who was white, died of a heart attack at her Santa Barbara
    home early Sunday morning, according to her son, Paul Brinkman Jr.
    She appeared in 64 films and many television shows during her long
    career, playing opposite such stars as Frank Sinatra, Kirk Douglas
    and William Holden.

    With her lovely features, slender figure and demure manner, she
    became a leading star in the wartime and postwar years. For faraway
    GI's she seemed the ideal girl back home. At 20th Century-Fox studio,
    her fan mail was second only to that of pin-up queen Betty Grable.

    Crain's 1943 movie debut followed the Hollywood cliche: She appeared
    in a swimming suit beside a pool in the all-star "The Gang's All
    Here." She was elevated to leading roles in her next films -- "Home
    in Indiana," "In the Meantime, Darling." "Winged Victory" and "State
    Fair," which featured Rodgers and Hammerstein's only original score
    for a movie.

    "Margie" (1946), an entertaining, nostalgic tale of a small-town girl
    in the 1920s who gets a crush on her French teacher, established
    Crain as an important Fox star. She followed with a musical, "You
    Were Meant for Me," opposite Dan Dailey, and "An Apartment for
    Peggie," a romance with William Holden.

    "Pinky" brought Crain's only Oscar recognition, a nomination for best
    actress in 1949. It was a daring film at a time when Hollywood
    avoided racial controversy, about a girl who passes for white in the
    North but faces the bitter hatred of whites after returning to her
    grandmother's home in the Deep South.

    "I grew up without knowing anything about prejudice; my mother saw to
    that," Crain said in 1995. "If parents would keep prejudice and
    intolerance to themselves for one generation, we would have a
    different world."

    Lena Horne and other black actresses sought the role, but Fox boss
    Darryl F. Zanuck decided on a white star with box-office appeal.

    "Pinky," directed by Elia Kazan, was widely praised by critics but
    encountered opposition in the South, especially because a white man
    in the film wants to marry Pinky despite knowing her heritage.
    Marshall, Texas, banned the film, but the town's film censoring
    ordinance was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The movie's controversy enhanced Crain's popularity. She recalled
    that her fan letters rose to 6,000 a week, and only 1 percent were

    Crain was born in Barstow, Calif., on May 25, 1925. Nine months
    later, her family moved to Los Angeles, where her father became head
    of the English department at Inglewood High School. She began winning
    leads in school plays at 14 and beauty contests at 15.

    As Camera Girl of 1942 in Long Beach, she attracted the attention of
    20th Century-Fox and was given a routine studio contract. That was
    soon discarded for better terms as her career rapidly ascended.

    In 1945, Crain married Paul Brinkman, an actor who later became a
    successful businessman. The couple had seven children.

    In 1956, Fox granted Crain's request to be released from her
    contract, and she enjoyed a brisk career as a free-lancer, notably
    in "Man without a Star" with Kirk Douglas, "The Fastest Gun Alive"
    (Glenn Ford), "The Joker Is Wild" (Frank Sinatra), "The Tattered
    Dress" (Jeff Chandler), "Guns of the Timberland" (Alan Ladd),
    and "Madison Avenue" (Dana Andrews).

    By the 1960s, her Hollywood career had dimmed. She made three films
    in Europe and then retired. She and Brinkman spent their time at two
    working ranches.

    In her 70s she still received regular bundles of mail from fans who
    had seen her films on TV or video.

    "They write as if the films were just being released," she said
    wonderingly. "The films must have aged well."

    Crain's husband died in October. She is survived by her sons, Paul
    Jr. and Timothy Brinkman, and three daughters, Jeanine Brinkman, Lisa
    Binstock and Maria Brinkman.
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    I always liked her and thought she was a very beautiful woman. It seems like she lived a full life.

  3. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Jul 19, 2002
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    haven't seen many of her films, but she did have a big role in one of my all time favorites;
    Joe Mankiewiczs A Letter To Three Wives.

    it would be great if Fox could release this sometime in '04-possibly as part of the studio classics label.

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