Jan Clayton

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Jan Clayton
Jan Clayton (Warner Brothers).jpg
Jan Clayton[1]
Born (1917-08-26)August 26, 1917
Tularosa, Otero County
New Mexico, U.S.
Died August 28, 1983(1983-08-28) (aged 66)
West Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1935–81

(1) Russell Hayden (married 1938–43, divorced)
(2) Robert Lerner (married 1946–58, divorced)

(3) George Greeley (married 1966–68, divorced)
Children Sandra Hayden (1940–56)
Robin, Karen, and Joe Lerner

Jan Clayton (August 26, 1917 – August 28, 1983) was a film, musical theatre, and television actress.


Clayton was one of the original stars of the classic TV show Lassie, playing Ellen Miller from 1954 to 1957.

Clayton made several films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer but none were notable, except for an unbilled role as a singing inmate in The Snake Pit. In 1945, however, she was selected to play the role of Julie Jordan in the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic, Carousel. She left the show to star in the 1946 Broadway revival of Show Boat, as Magnolia, while Carousel was still continuing its Broadway run. The 1946 production of Show Boat was the longest-running revival of a stage musical up to that time, 416 performances. Clayton can be heard on the Original Cast Recordings of both Carousel (1945) and Show Boat (1946). The Show Boat album was the first American production of the show to be recorded with its original cast.

On May 20, 1954, Clayton guest starred in ABC's sitcom Where's Raymond? (1953–55), starring Ray Bolger as a song-and-dance man, Raymond Wallace. She played Francine Tremont, an actress and wife of a banker. In the story line, Francine is in town to make a special appearance with Bolger.[2]

Weeks after her Where's Raymond? appearance, Clayton played Jeff Miller's (Tommy Rettig)'s mother on the television series Lassie (1954) (aka Jeff's Collie in re-runs). She also played herself in an appearance on Peter Lawford's short-lived NBC sitcom, Dear Phoebe.

In 1954, Clayton was one of the many guest stars in a television spectacular tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, The General Foods 25th Anniversary Show, which featured all the then-surviving stars (except Alfred Drake) of all the classic Broadway musicals that the team had written (1943–54). Clayton and John Raitt, in full makeup and costume, performed "If I Loved You' (also known as the Bench Scene) from Carousel. It was the first opportunity for millions of viewers to see a scene from the musical, since none of the film versions of the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musicals had yet been released.[citation needed]

Clayton and Beulah Bondi highlight the episode of "The Prairie Story", which aired on February 1, 1961, on NBC's Wagon Train. The episode, written by Jean Holloway, examines how the forbidden prairie, particularly the strong wind, plays havoc on the lives of some of the women on the wagon train. Robert Horton carries the lead in this episode which aired three months after the death of Ward Bond.[3]

In "St. Louis Woman" (January 20, 1962) on NBC's The Tall Man, Clayton portrays Janet Harper, a widow engaged to Tom Davis (Russ Conway), a friend of Sheriff Pat Garrett (Barry Sullivan). While Tom is away from Lincoln, New Mexico, the setting of The Tall Man, on a cattle drive, Janet begins to show a romantic interest in Garrett. Roger Mobley appears in this episode as David Harper, Janet's young son.[4]

Clayton was cast as Margaret Wilbarger, whose brother, Texas pioneer Josiah Wilbarger, lived for eleven years after being scalped by the Comanche, in the 1967 episode, "The Man Who Wouldn't Die" of the syndicated series, Death Valley Days. Don Collier played Wilbarger, for whom Wilbarger County, Texas, is named, along with Wilbarger's brother.[5]

Clayton was posthumously inducted into the New Mexico Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2012.

Personal life[edit]

Clayton's first husband was western actor Russell Hayden (1938–43); they had one daughter, Sandra (1940–1956). Sandra Jane Hayden was killed in an automobile accident on September 22, 1956, after driving her mother's Cadillac through a stop sign and colliding with another car. She was 15 years old. Her second husband was attorney Robert Lerner (1946–58), brother of famed Broadway lyricist Alan Jay Lerner; they had two daughters and a son: Robin (b. 1948), Karen (b. 1949), and Joe (b. 1950). Her third and final husband was pianist and film/television composer George Greeley (1966–68).[citation needed]


In later years, she appeared many times on television as a frequent guest star in many series. In the late 1970s, she also volunteered as a receptionist at the Alcoholism Council of Greater Los Angeles, where she had received treatment for her own alcohol-related problems.


Jan Clayton died of cancer in 1983, two days after her 66th birthday.

Selected filmography[edit]


Wiki entry on "Lassie" movies and TV series

  1. ^ "Jan Clayton". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ "Where's Raymond?/ The Ray Bolger Show". ctva.biz. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Prairie Story". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ ""St. Louis Woman", January 20, 1962". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  5. ^ ""The Man Who Wouldn't Die", Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 

External links[edit]