Jill St. John

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Jill St. John
Born Jill Arlyn Oppenheim
(1940-08-19) August 19, 1940 (age 74)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation Actress
Years active 1949–2002
Spouse(s) Neil Dubin (1957–1958)
Lance Reventlow (1960–1963)
Jack Jones (1967–1969)
Robert Wagner (1990–present)

Jill St. John (born Jill Arlyn Oppenheim on August 19, 1940) is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her role as Bond girl Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever (1971).[1]

Early life[edit]

St. John was born Jill Arlyn Oppenheim in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Betty (née Goldberg, 1913-1998) and Edward Oppenheim, a prosperous restaurant owner.[2] As a young girl, St. John was a member of the Children's Ballet Company with Natalie Wood and Stefanie Powers. She attended Powers Professional School and received her high school diploma from Hollywood Professional School in the spring of 1955 at age 14.[2] At 15, St. John enrolled at UCLA's Extension School.

Career[edit]

A stage mother, Betty Oppenheim changed Jill's last name to the more Hollywood-sounding St. John during her childhood. St. John began acting on radio at age six, and in December 1949, at age nine, she made her screen debut in the first full-length made-for-TV movie, a production of A Christmas Carol. At age eleven, she appeared in two episodes of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. In 1957, at age 16, Universal Pictures signed St. John to a contract. Her major studio film debut was in Summer Love (1958) starring John Saxon. She went on to appear in The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959), Holiday for Lovers (1959), The Lost World (1960), The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), Tender Is the Night (1962), Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963) and Honeymoon Hotel (1964).

St. John received a Golden Globe Award nomination as Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance in the 1963 film Come Blow Your Horn, where she starred opposite Frank Sinatra. She would later co-star with Sinatra in the 1967 detective drama Tony Rome. Other films from this period in her career included Who's Minding the Store? with Jerry Lewis, The Liquidator (1965) with Rod Taylor, and The Oscar (1966) with Stephen Boyd.

In 1964, she guest-starred with Lauren Bacall and Jason Robards, Jr. in the episode "Take a Walk Through the Cemetery" of Craig Stevens's CBS drama series, Mr. Broadway. St. John appeared in the first and second episodes of the television series Batman in 1966 as the Riddler's moll, Molly.

St. John's most famous role was as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, where she starred opposite Sean Connery. She was the first American to play a Bond girl.[3] The following year, she starred in the crime thriller Sitting Target (1972) with Oliver Reed.

During 1983-1984, she starred with Dennis Weaver on the short-lived CBS soap opera, Emerald Point N.A.S., in which she played Deanna Kinkaid, Thomas Mallory's conniving former sister-in-law. Her other television credits include guest roles on Magnum, P.I., The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Burke's Law, The Big Valley, Vega$, Dempsey and Makepeace and Fantasy Island.

St. John has worked on five movies with her husband Robert Wagner: Banning (1967); How I Spent My Summer Vacation (1967); Around the World in 80 Days (1989); Something to Believe In (1998); and The Calling (2002). They made brief cameo appearances as themselves in Robert Altman's 1992 Hollywood satire The Player. In 1997, the couple appeared together at the end of "The Yada Yada" episode of the popular television sitcom Seinfeld.

St. John has not acted since 2002.

Cooking[edit]

In 1972, St. John largely left Hollywood behind and moved to Aspen, Colorado where she focused on personal interests and cooking. Eventually, she parlayed this into becoming a culinary personality, appearing in monthly cooking segments on ABC-TV`s Good Morning America and a column in USA Weekend magazine through the 1980s. This culminated in authoring The Jill St. John Cookbook (1987), a healthy, but not health food, collection of recipes and some anecdotes.[4]

Personal life[edit]

St. John, in addition to having a sexy screen persona, is quite intelligent in real life. She was once measured to have an IQ of 162.[5]

After she left Hollywood, St. John developed a handmade Angora sweater business, and became interested in orchid growing, skiing, hiking, river rafting, camping, and gardening. In 1987, she said "I'm a mountain gal now. I love the outdoors and I love harvesting and using fresh vegetables and herbs."[6]

St. John has been married four times:

  • Neil Dubin (May 12, 1957 - July 3, 1958) (divorced) St. John was 16 years old when she eloped with Dubin, heir to a linen fortune, in Yuma, Arizona. St. John complained that Dubin harassed and ridiculed her.[2]
  • Lance Reventlow (March 24, 1960 - October 30, 1963) (divorced) Reventlow, who died in a plane crash in 1972, was the son of Barbara Hutton, heir to the F. W. Woolworth fortune. Despite their divorce and subsequent re-marriages, St. John refers to Reventlow as "my late husband" in interviews.
  • Jack Jones (October 14, 1967 - March 1, 1969) (divorced)
  • Robert Wagner (May 26, 1990 – present) They first met in 1959 and have been a couple since February 1982. Her Matron of honor at their wedding was Wagner's sister, Mary.

She has three stepdaughters:

  • Katie Wagner: Born in 1964; Wagner's oldest child, from his marriage to Marion Marshall.
  • Natasha Gregson: Born in 1970; daughter of Richard Gregson and Natalie Wood, but raised by Wagner and St. John after Wood drowned under suspicious circumstances[7][8][9] in 1981.
  • Courtney Wagner: Born in 1974, Wagner's only child with Wood.

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Diana Rigg
Bond girl
1971
Succeeded by
Jane Seymour