Press photo 1960
|Born||Jane Meadows Cotter
September 27, 1919
Wu-ch'ang, Heilongjiang, China
(m. 1954-2000; his death); 1 child
Jayne Meadows was born as Jane Meadows Cotter in 1919 in Wu-ch'ang, Heilongjiang, China, to Episcopal missionary parents, the Rev. Francis James Meadows Cotter and his wife, the former Ida Miller Taylor, who had married in 1915. Meadows is the older sister of the actress Audrey Meadows. She also had two brothers (both deceased). The family later returned to their home in Sharon, Connecticut.
Meadows' most famous movies include: Undercurrent (with Katharine Hepburn), Song of the Thin Man (with William Powell and Myrna Loy), David and Bathsheba (with Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward and Raymond Massey), Lady in the Lake (with Robert Montgomery and Audrey Totter), Enchantment (with David Niven and Teresa Wright), and City Slickers (as the voice of Billy Crystal's oversolicitous mother). Among her earliest television appearances, Meadows played reporter Helen Brady in a 1953 episode of Suspense opposite Walter Matthau entitled, "F.O.B. Vienna."
She was a regular panelist on the original version of I've Got a Secret and an occasional panelist on What's My Line?, the latter alongside husband Steve Allen. She also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. During the early days of the burgeoning live entertainment scene in Las Vegas, the Allens occasionally worked together as an act. Prior to Allen's death in 2000, the couple made several TV appearances together - in 1998 they played an argumentative elderly couple in an episode of the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street (based on the hypothetical Ronald Opus case) in which Allen's character accidentally shoots a suiciding man as he is plunging from the roof of their building. In 1999 they made their last joint TV appearance (again playing a couple) in the all-star episode of the Dick Van Dyke series Diagnosis: Murder, entitled "The Roast", which marked Allen's final screen appearance during his lifetime. Meadows has also been active in Republican affairs although Steve Allen was a Democrat. She is the recipient of several Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from various universities.
Meadows remained active until 2009 when she had suffered a bad fall and fractured her hip. Her last public appearance to date was in August 2009 at the Early TV Memories First-Class Commemorative Stamp Dedication Ceremony. She still grants occasional interviews.
She was married to Steve Allen from 1954 until his death in 2000. They had one son, Bill. Allen's three children from his first marriage (Stephen Jr., Brian and David) are her stepchildren. She was credited as Jayne Meadows Allen for much of her marriage.
- Undercurrent (1946)
- Lady in the Lake (1947)
- Dark Delusion (1947)
- Song of the Thin Man (1947)
- The Luck of the Irish (1948)
- David and Bathsheba (1951)
- It Happened to Jane (1959)
- College Confidential (1960)
- City Slickers (1991)
- The Player (1992)
- City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994)
- Casino (1995)
- The Story of Us (1999)
Notable television work
- I've Got a Secret (panelist from 1952–1959)
- Jukebox Jury (1953)
- To Tell the Truth (regular panelist from 1957–1961)
- The Judy Garland Show (ep. 11, 1963)
- The Eleventh Hour (guest star, 2-part episode, 1964)
- Medical Center (cast member from 1969–1972)
- James Dean (1976)
- Meeting of Minds (1977–1981)
- Trivia Trap (panelist Celebrity Week from 1984)
- Miss All-American Beauty (1982)
- The Ratings Game (1984)
- Alice in Wonderland (1985)
- The Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon (1989)
- Ancestry.com U.S., Consular Reports of Births, 1910-1949 Record for Jane Cotter
- Miss Ida M. Taylor to be Bride of Rev. F.J.M. Cotter on May 27, The New York Times, April 16, 1915, last accessed May 6, 2008.
- L.A. Times profile of Jayne Allen, articles.latimes.com; accessed May 20, 2014.
- New York Times obituary for Steve Allen
- Jayne Meadows official website
- Jayne Meadows at the Internet Movie Database
- Jayne Meadows radio interview WSLR with Doug Miles on YouTube
- Jane Meadows interview video at the Archive of American Television