Janet Blair

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Janet Blair
Janet Blair Henry Fonda Smith Family 1970.JPG
Blair and Henry Fonda from the television program The Smith Family
Born Martha Jane Lafferty
(1921-04-23)April 23, 1921
Altoona, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died February 19, 2007(2007-02-19) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Complications from pneumonia
Resting place Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1941–1991
Spouse(s) Lou Busch (m. 1943–50)
Nick Mayo (m. 1953–71)
Children 2

Janet Blair (April 23, 1921 – February 19, 2007) was a big band singer who went on to become a popular American film and television actress.


Born Martha Jane Lafferty in Altoona, Pennsylvania (she took her acting surname from Blair County, Pennsylvania), Blair was the daughter of musically oriented parents,[1] Mr. and Mrs. Fred B. Lafferty.[2] Her father led the choir and sang solos in his church, and her mother played both piano and organ.[1]

She began her acting career on film in 1941, being placed under contract to Columbia Pictures. Before that, she was a featured singer in the Hal Kemp Orchestra. During World War II she appeared as the pin-up girl in the March 1944 issue of Yank Magazine. She made a string of successful pictures, although she is today best remembered for playing Rosalind Russell's sister in My Sister Eileen (1942) and Rita Hayworth's best friend in Tonight and Every Night (1945). In the late 1940s, Blair had star billing in the crime drama I Love Trouble as well as in The Fuller Brush Man, a comedy with Red Skelton, but was dropped by Columbia and did not return to pictures for several years.

Instead, in 1950 she took the lead role of Nellie Forbush in the U.S touring production of the stage musical South Pacific, making more than 1,200 performances in three years. "[I] never missed a performance", she noted proudly. During the tour, she also got married to second husband, producer-director Nick Mayo, and they became parents of Amanda and Andrew.

Janet was a star musical performer in premiere nightclubs and supper clubs like the Empire Room at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

She appeared on television in various variety show guest appearances and hosted, with John Raitt, the summer replacement for the Dinah Shore Chevy Show for the vacationing star Dinah Shore. She was a cast member during the 1956-57 TV season on Caesar's Hour, a comedy-variety series starring Sid Caesar.

On radio, Blair co-starred with George Raft in "Broadway," a 1942 episode of Lux Radio Theatre on CBS.[3]

She recorded an album of standards entitled Flame Out! for the Dico label which included ballads like "Don't Explain" and "Then You've Never Been Blue."

She made a rare dramatic appearance in the 1962 British horror film Night of the Eagle. She played the wife of Tony Randall in another film that year, the comedy Boys' Night Out, which starred James Garner and Kim Novak.

On television in 1971, Janet co-starred with Henry Fonda in The Smith Family, a comedy-drama series on ABC. Her last performance on television was in a 1991 episode of Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury.

Personal life[edit]

Blair was married twice. Her first marriage was to musical arranger and conductor[2] Louis Ferdinand Busch from 1943 to March 1950.[4] She married television producer Nick Mayo in 1952 with whom she had two children: Andrew and Amanda.[5] They divorced in 1971.[6]


On February 19, 2007, Blair died of complications from pneumonia, aged 85, at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.[7]


in Tonight and Every Night (1945)



  • Flame Out (1959, Dico)


  1. ^ a b "Road Wasn't Difficult For Janet Blair". Waco Tribune. December 7, 1952. p. 54. Retrieved April 19, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  2. ^ a b "Janet Blair Is Given Surprise Welcome Home". Altoona Tribune. January 7, 1947. p. 1. Retrieved April 19, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  3. ^ "Drama Heads WHP Bill". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 19, 1942. p. 20. Retrieved April 19, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  4. ^ "Movie Divorce Crop Is Large". The Spokesman-Review. January 2, 1951. p. 2. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Children Watch As Parents Are Wed". Kentucky New Era. October 19, 1963. p. 12. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ Pearson, Howard. "Laudable Ambition". The Deseret News. p. B8. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Stage, Screen and TV Star Janet Blair Dies at 86 Read more about Stage, Screen and TV Star Janet Blair Dies at 86". broadwayworld.com. February 21, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Oderman, Stuart, Talking to the Piano Player 2. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 1-59393-320-7.

External links[edit]