Jane Greer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jane Greer
Publicity photo of Greer for Out of the Past
Bettejane Greer

(1924-09-09)September 9, 1924
DiedAugust 24, 2001(2001-08-24) (aged 76)
Resting placeWestwood Memorial Park
Years active1945–1996
(m. 1943; div. 1944)
(m. 1947; div. 1963)
PartnerFrank London (1963–2001; his death)
Children3, including Lawrence Lasker

Jane Greer (born Bettejane Greer; September 9, 1924 – August 24, 2001) was an American film and television actress best known for her role as femme fatale Kathie Moffat in the 1947 film noir Out of the Past. In 2009, The Guardian named her one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.[1]

Early life[edit]

Greer was born in Washington, DC, the daughter of Charles Durell McClellan Greer Jr. and his wife, Bettie.[2] In 1940, at age 15, Greer suffered from a facial palsy, which paralyzed the left side of her face. She recovered, but the condition may have contributed to her "patented look" and "a calm, quizzical gaze and an enigmatic expression that would later lead RKO to promote her as 'The Woman with the Mona Lisa smile'."[3] She claimed that the facial exercises used to overcome the paralysis taught her the importance of facial expression in conveying human emotion.[4]

On December 4, 1945, Greer had her name legally changed to Jane Greer by a court in Los Angeles. She said of her previous name: "Mine is a sissy name. It's too bo-peepish, ingenueish, for the type of role I've been playing. It's like Mary Lou or Mary Ann."[5]



A beauty-contest winner and professional model from her teens, Greer began her show-business career as a big-band singer. She sang in Washington, DC, with the orchestra of Enric Madriguera.[6] She "sang phonetically in Spanish" with the group.[7]


With Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past

Howard Hughes spotted Greer modeling in the June 8, 1942, issue of Life, and sent her to Hollywood to become an actress. Hughes lent her to RKO to star in many films (another source says Greer's husband, Rudy Vallee, "helped her get out of her contract with Hughes and secure another pact with RKO Studios"[7]) including Dick Tracy (1945), Out of the Past (1947), They Won't Believe Me (1947), and the comedy/suspense film The Big Steal (1949), with Out of the Past co-star Robert Mitchum. Hughes refused to let her work for a time; when she finally resumed film acting, she appeared in You're in the Navy Now (1951), The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), Run for the Sun (1956), and Man of a Thousand Faces (1957). In 1984, she was cast in Against All Odds, a remake of Out of the Past, as the mother of the character she had played in 1947. In 1952, Greer obtained a release from her contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. She said, "When there is a good role at MGM, the producers want Lana or Ava. There is no chance for another actress to develop into important stardom at the studio".[8]


Greer's noteworthy roles in television included guest appearances on episodes of numerous shows over the decades, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bonanza, Quincy, M.E., Murder, She Wrote, and a 1975 role with Peter Falk and Robert Vaughn in an episode of Columbo titled Troubled Waters. She even got to make fun of Out of the Past in a parody with Robert Mitchum on TV's Saturday Night Live in 1987. Greer joined the casts of Falcon Crest in 1984 and Twin Peaks in 1990 in recurring roles until her retirement in 1996.


Greer was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1634 Vine Street for her contributions to the motion picture industry. The star was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Greer married Rudy Vallee on December 2, 1943, in Hollywood, but they separated after three months and divorced on July 27, 1944.[10][11][12] On August 20, 1947, Greer married Edward Lasker (1912–1997), a Los Angeles lawyer and businessman, with whom she had three sons, Alex, Steven, and Lawrence, a movie producer (WarGames, Sneakers).[13] Greer and Lasker divorced in 1967.[7] Frank London (an actor and dialogue coach) was Greer's domestic partner from 1965 until his death in 2001, six months before Greer died.[14] Greer was a lifelong Democrat and supported Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election.[15] Greer was Catholic.[16]

Greer died of cancer on August 24, 2001, at the age of 76, in Bel Air, Los Angeles.[17] Her body was interred at Los Angeles' Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.[citation needed]

Complete filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Director Notes
1945 Pan-Americana Miss Downing Ruby Rosenberg (assistant) Uncredited
Two O'Clock Courage Helen Carter Anthony Mann as Bettejane Greer
George White's Scandals Billie Randall Felix E. Feist as Bettejane Greer
Dick Tracy Judith Owens William A. Berke
1946 The Falcon's Alibi Lola Carpenter James Anderson (assistant)
Sunset Pass Lolita Baxter Doran Cox (assistant)
The Bamboo Blonde Eileen Sawyer Anthony Mann
1947 Sinbad the Sailor Pirouze Richard Wallace
They Won't Believe Me Janice Bell Irving Pichel
Out of the Past Kathie Moffat Jacques Tourneur
1948 Station West Charlie Sidney Lanfield
1949 The Big Steal Joan Graham Don Siegel
1951 The Company She Keeps Diane Stuart John Cromwell
You're in the Navy Now Ellie C. Harkness Henry Hathaway
1952 You for Me Katie McDermad Don Weis
The Prisoner of Zenda Antoinette de Mauban Richard Thorpe
Desperate Search Julie Heldon Joseph H. Lewis
1953 The Clown Paula Henderson Robert Z. Leonard
Down Among the Sheltering Palms Diana Forrester Edmund Goulding
1956 Run for the Sun Katherine "Katie" Connors Roy Boulting
1957 Man of a Thousand Faces Hazel Bennet Chaney Joseph Pevney
1964 Where Love Has Gone Marian Spicer Edward Dmytryk
1965 Billie Agnes Carol Don Weis
1973 The Outfit Alma Macklin John Flynn
1979 A Christmas for Boomer TV movie
1982 The Shadow Riders Ma Traven Andrew V. McLaglen TV movie
1984 Against All Odds Mrs. Wyler Taylor Hackford
1986 Just Between Friends Ruth Chadwick Allan Burns
1989 Immediate Family Michael's Mother Jonathan Kaplan
1996 Perfect Mate Mom

Partial television credits[edit]


  1. ^ Singer, Leigh (February 19, 2009). "Oscars: the best actors never to have been nominated". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved September 17, 2022.
  2. ^ "Rudee Vallee Will Take Bride This Evening". The Daily Chronicle. The Daily Chronicle. December 2, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved October 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  3. ^ "Jane Greer profile at". Yahoo! Movies.
  4. ^ "Jane Greer Biography". hollywoodupclose.com. Archived from the original on June 4, 2009.
  5. ^ "Bettejane Greer Changes Name". The Bee. The Bee. December 5, 1945. p. 7. Retrieved October 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  6. ^ Carroll, Harrison (August 8, 1945). "Behind the Scenes in Hollywood". The Danville Morning News. The Morning News. p. 6. Retrieved October 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  7. ^ a b c Bowlin, Michael (June 9, 1991). "Jane Greer had roles into mid '80s". The Kerrville Times. The Kerrville Times. p. 48. Retrieved October 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  8. ^ Johnson, Erskine (December 17, 1952). "Eclipsed By Stars, Jane Greer Quits Studio". The Fresno Bee. The Fresno Bee The Republican. p. 36. Retrieved October 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  9. ^ "Jane Greer". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  10. ^ "Bettejane Greer and Lt. Rudy Vallee Wed". Dunkirk Evening Observer. Dunkirk Evening Observer. December 3, 1943. p. 4. Retrieved October 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  11. ^ "Bettejane Greer and Rudy Vallee Separate". Dunkirk Evening Observer. Dunkirk Evening Observer. March 7, 1944. p. 3. Retrieved October 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  12. ^ "Bettejane Greer Granted Divorce From Rudy Vallee". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 27, 1944. p. 3. Retrieved October 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  13. ^ "Jane Greer Weds Lasker". The Decatur Daily Review. The Decatur Daily Review. August 21, 1947. p. 34. Retrieved October 3, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  14. ^ "Jane Greer Obituary". The Telegraph. August 28, 2001.Open access icon
  15. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  16. ^ Lowe, Skip E. "Interview with Jane Greer". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  17. ^ Jane Greer - L.A. Times Hollywood Star Walk

External links[edit]