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Jean Arthur

Jean Arthur
Jean Arthur - signed.jpg
Publicity photo mid-1930s
Born Gladys Georgianna Greene
(1900-10-17)October 17, 1900
Plattsburgh, New York, U.S.
Died June 19, 1991(1991-06-19) (aged 90)
Carmel, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart failure
Occupation Actress
Years active 1923–75
Spouse(s) Julian Anker (m. 1928–28)
Frank Ross, Jr. (m. 1932; div. 1949)
Parent(s) Johanna Augusta Nelson
Hubert Sidney Greene

Jean Arthur (October 17, 1900 – June 19, 1991) was an American actress and a major film star of the 1930s and 1940s.

Arthur had feature roles in three Frank Capra films: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), You Can't Take It With You (1938), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), films that championed the "everyday heroine". Arthur was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1944 for her performance in The More the Merrier (1943). James Harvey wrote in his recounting of the era, "No one was more closely identified with the screwball comedy than Jean Arthur. So much was she part of it, so much was her star personality defined by it, that the screwball style itself seems almost unimaginable without her." She has been called "the quintessential comedic leading lady".

Her last film performance was the memorable, and distinctly non-comedic, homesteader's wife in George Stevens' Shane in 1953. To the public, Arthur was known as a reclusive woman. News magazine Life observed in a 1940 article: "Next to Garbo, Jean Arthur is Hollywood's reigning mystery woman." As well as recoiling from interviews, she avoided photographers and refused to become a part of any kind of publicity.

Arthur was born Gladys Georgianna Greene in Plattsburgh, New York to Protestant parents, Johanna Augusta Nelson (1874–1959) and Hubert Sidney Greene (1863–1944). Her maternal grandparents were immigrants from Norway who settled in the American West; she also had distant ancestors from England. She had three older brothers: Donald Hubert (1890–1967), Robert B. (1892–1955) and Albert Sidney (1894–1926). She lived on and off in Westbrook, Maine, from 1908 to 1915 while her father worked at Lamson Studios in Portland, Maine, as a photographer. The product of a nomadic childhood, Arthur also lived at times in Jacksonville, Florida; Schenectady, New York; Saranac Lake, New York; and, during a portion of her high school years, in the Washington Heights neighborhood – at 573 West 159th Street – of upper Manhattan. The family's relocation to New York City occurred in 1915, where Arthur dropped out of high school in her junior year due to a "change in family circumstances".


Year Program Episode/source
1937 Lux Radio Theatre Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
1937 Lux Radio Theatre The Plainsman
1938 Lux Radio Theatre Seventh Heaven
1939 Lux Radio Theatre Only Angels Have Wings
1939 Lux Radio Theatre Pygmalion
1941 Lux Radio Theatre Remember the Night
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air The Grand Tour

  • Capra, Frank. Frank Capra, The Name Above the Title: An Autobiography. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1971. .
  • Harvey, James. Romantic Comedy in Hollywood: From Lubitsch to Sturges. New York: Knopf, 1987. .
  • Oller, John. Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew. New York: Limelight Editions, 1997. .
  • Parish, James Robert. The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols. New York: Contemporary Books, 2002. .
  • Parish, James Robert. The Hollywood Book of Extravagance: The Totally Infamous ... Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2007. .
  • Sarvady, Andrea, Molly Haskell and Frank Miller. Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006. .
  • Stenn, David. Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild. New York: Doubleday, 1988. .
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