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Donnell in In a Lonely Place (1950).
|Born||Jean Marie Donnell
July 10, 1921
Windham, Maine, U.S.
|Died||April 11, 1988
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||William Anderson (1940–1953)
Aldo Ray (1954–1956)
John Bricker (1958–1963)
Radcliffe Bealey (1974–1975)
|Children||Michael Phineas (b. 1942)
Sarah Jane (b. 1948)
|Parents||Harold and Mildred Donnell|
Jeff Donnell (July 10, 1921 – April 11, 1988) was an American film and television actress. Born Jean Marie Donnell, she grew up in South Windham, Maine. As a child, she adopted the nickname "Jeff" after the character in her favorite comic strip, Mutt and Jeff. To avoid gender confusion, she was sometimes billed as "(Miss) Jeff Donnell."
Donnell graduated from Towson High School, Towson, Maryland, in 1938 and attended the Leland Powers School of Drama in Boston, Massachusetts. Later, she studied at the Yale School of Drama. She was signed to a contract by Columbia Pictures in 1942 and made her film debut in My Sister Eileen. She later had roles in some RKO films.
She was not a major star, but she did have a lengthy film and television career in various supporting roles, including the role of Gidget's mother, "Dorothy Lawrence", opposite Carl Reiner in the 1961 movie Gidget Goes Hawaiian. In 1966 she made five appearances on Dr. Kildare as Evelyn Driscoll.
Her other notable appearances in movies and television include:
- "Winnie Slade" in The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)
- Doughboys in Ireland (1943)
- "Butch" in Nine Girls (1944)
- "Sylvia Nicolai" in In a Lonely Place (1950)
- Thief of Damascus (Leading Lady) Movie (1952)
- "Alice Gobel" in the George Gobel TV show (1954–1958)
- "Sally" in Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)
- "Miriam Fisher" in The Iron Maiden (1962; released in the U.S. as Swinging Maiden)
- "Cornelia," (Cornelia Fort), a flying instructor in Tora, Tora, Tora (1970)
- "Mrs James Nelson" in Adam 12 (1973)
- "Aunt May Parker" in The Amazing Spider-Man (1977)
- "Stella Fields" in the TV soap opera General Hospital (1980–1988)
Donnell died of a heart attack on April 11, 1988, aged 66. Her sudden absence from General Hospital, on which she had a recurring role as the Quartermaines' housekeeper at the time of her death, was explained away by the writers as her character having won the lottery and quit her job.