Jean Byron

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Jean Byron
Born Imogene Burkhart
(1925-12-10)December 10, 1925
Paducah, Kentucky, U.S.
Died February 3, 2006(2006-02-03) (aged 80)
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Other names Jeane Byron
Occupation Actress
Years active 1952 – 1999
Spouse(s) Michael Ansara (m. 1955–56)

Jean Byron (December 10, 1925 – February 3, 2006) was an American film, television, and stage actress. She is best known for the role of Natalie Lane, Patty Lane's mother in The Patty Duke Show.

Early life and career[edit]

Jean Byron, (given name Imogene Burkhart) was born on December 10, 1925 in Paducah in western Kentucky, and her family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, when she was still quite young, and then to California when she was nineteen during World War II. She appeared briefly as a singer on radio, first with Tommy Dorsey's band, followed by a stint with Jan Savitt's group. She then studied drama from 1947 to 1950, followed by a run with the Players Ring, a theatre group that did not pay well, but offered the performers needed exposure. It was here in a play titled Merrily We Roll Along, that she came to the attention of Harry Sauber, elderly talent adviser for Sam Katzman. She was asked to read from the script and imitate a British accent, which she did. And right then and there she got her union card. When asked her name, she replied Imogene Burkhart. Katzman rejected that name; so she volunteered the stage name, Jean Byron, which she had already been using and which the Columbia Pictures brass found more palatable.[1]

In the 1950s, Byron appeared in several B-movies, including The Magnetic Monster and Serpent of the Nile, in addition to guest roles on The Millionaire, The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, and Science Fiction Theatre, Fury, and Bourbon Street Beat. Byron also served as spokeswoman for Revlon and Lux products on NBC's The Rosemary Clooney Show.[2]

In 1959, Byron landed a semiregular spot on CBS's The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis playing Dr. Imogene Burkhart, her real name. During her time on the show, she was cast in a spinoff pilot about Dobie Gillis' girlfriend, Zelda, where she would have played the girl's mother. However, the pilot was not picked up. In the show's final season, Byron convinced producers to allow her character to discard the plain, repressed appearance she presented, and show a more modern version of a schoolteacher.

The following year, she starred in the short-lived soap opera Full Circle, which also co-starred Dyan Cannon. In 1963, she won the role of Natalie Lane on The Patty Duke Show. After the series ended in 1966, she continued appearing in guest roles on Batman, Marcus Welby, M.D., Maude, and Hotel.[2]

Byron's last on-screen role was in the 1999 television movie The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' in Brooklyn Heights.

In addition to film and television roles, Byron also worked in regional theater. She portrayed Mama Rose in Gypsy and appeared in a production of Guys and Dolls.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

Byron was married to actor Michael Ansara from 1955 to 1956. Some sources have it as 1949 to 1956. The couple had no children and Byron never remarried.[3]

On February 3, 2006, Byron died in Mobile, Alabama, of complications following hip replacement surgery.[2]

Selected filmography[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1952 Voodoo Tiger Phyllis Bruce
1953 The Magnetic Monster Connie Stewart
Serpent of the Nile Charmion (Cleopatra's handmaiden)
1955 Jungle Moon Men Ellen Marsten
1956 There's Always Tomorrow Miss Byron, saleswoman Uncredited
Johnny Concho Pearl Lang
1959 Invisible Invaders Phyllis Penner
1963 Wall of Noise Mrs. Harrington
1972 Where Does It Hurt? Dr. Kincaid
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1954 City Detective Reesa
Jean
2 episodes
1955 The Millionaire Betty Jane Ryan/Bea Ryan 1 episode
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin Irene Larrimore 1 episode
You Are There Caroline Lucas 1 episode
1956 My Friend Flicka Barbara Schuyler 1 episode
Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers Katherine Cheney 1 episode
State Trooper Claire Walden, Jean Burton, Beverly, Millie Marvin, and Stella Bender (1956-1959) 5 episodes
1957 The 20th Century Fox Hour Wilma Standish 1 episode
Cheyenne Fay Kirby, newspaperwoman Episode: "The Broken Pledge"
1958 Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Miss Lewis 1 episode
Jefferson Drum Angela 1 episode
Yancy Derringer Dorinda Ashton 1 episode
1959 The Dennis O'Keefe Show Miss Diffendorf 1 episode
1959-1960 Bourbon Street Beat Martha Delastone, Grace Carvay 2 episodes, "The Taste of Ashes" and "Find My Face!"
1959–1963 The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Dr. Imogene Burkhart 18 episodes
1960 77 Sunset Strip Claire Donaldson 1 episode
Hawaiian Eye Karen Ward 1 episode
Tightrope Marla Keel 1 episode
1961 Hennesey Gloria Grayson 1 episode
Bus Stop Helen Adamson 1 episode
1962 The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor Livona Hart 1 episode
1963–1966 The Patty Duke Show Natalie Lane 105 episodes
1968 Batman Mrs. Lindseed, Mayor's Wife 1 episode
1971 Columbo Pat 1 episode
Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Koerner 1 episode
1972 McCloud Evelyn Reinhart 1 episode
Mannix Helen 1 episode
1974 Maude Housekeeper Applicant 1 episode
1975 S.W.A.T. Nurse Marlowe 1 episode
1987 Hotel Dorothy Anderson 1 episode
1999 The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' in Brooklyn Heights Natalie Lane Television movie

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Parla, Paul; Charles P. Mitchell (2000). "Jean Byron: The Byronic Heroine". Screen Sirens Scream! Interviews with 20 Actresses from Science Fiction, Horror, Film Noir and Mystery Movies, 1930s to 1960s. Jefferson, N.C. and London: McFarland. pp. 21–34. ISBN 0-7864-0701-8. 

External links[edit]