Janice Rule

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Janice Rule
Janice Rule 1973.JPG
Janice Rule press photo from a 1973 guest appearance on Barnaby Jones
Mary Janice Rule

(1931-08-15)August 15, 1931
DiedOctober 17, 2003(2003-10-17) (aged 72)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Alma materSouthern California Psychoanalytic Institute (Ph.D., Psychology, 1983)
OccupationActress, psychotherapist
Years active1951–1992
N. Richard Nash
(m. 1956; div. 1956)

Robert Thom
(m. 1956; div. 1961)

Ben Gazzara
(m. 1961; div. 1982)

Mary Janice Rule (August 15, 1931 – October 17, 2003) was an American actress "at her most convincing playing embittered, neurotic socialites".[1]

Acting career[edit]

Janice Rule was born in Norwood, Ohio, to parents of Irish origin.[2] Her father was a dealer in industrial diamonds.[3]

She began dancing at the Chez Paree nightclub at age 15, which paid for ballet lessons,[2] and was a dancer in the 1949 Broadway production of Miss Liberty.[1] Rule also studied acting at the Chicago Professional School.[3]

She was pictured on the cover of Life magazine on January 8, 1951 as being someone to watch in the entertainment industry.[4] Given a contract by Warner Bros., her first credited screen role was as Virginia in Goodbye, My Fancy (1951), which featured Joan Crawford in the lead. The established star belittled the younger woman, making Rule's work on the film difficult, although Crawford years later wrote a letter of apology to Rule for treating her badly on this film.[1][5] Rule's Warner contract was allowed to lapse after only two films.[6] She was troubled by the attitude toward women's beauty at the studios in the early 1950s: "Because I was afraid of being robbed of my individuality, I fought with the makeup people, the hairdressers, and I didn't understand problems of the publicity department," she was reported as saying in 1957.[7]

Rule was in the original 1953 Broadway cast of William Inge's Picnic (in the role of Madge Owens, the innocent beauty, played by Kim Novak in the film version),[6] whose company also included Paul Newman in his Broadway debut. This commitment led her to turn down the role ultimately played by Eva Marie Saint in On the Waterfront (1954). "I knew I couldn't shoot in a movie all day and work on a stage at night and do my best in both," she was quoted as saying by Hedda Hopper of the Los Angeles Times in 1966.[7] Among her other Broadway shows were The Flowering Peach, The Happiest Girl in the World and Michael V. Gazzo's Night Circus, a 1958 production which lasted for only a week,[8] but introduced Rule to Ben Gazzara, who became her third husband.[6]

Her other films in the 1950s included A Woman's Devotion (1956), the Western Gun for a Coward (1957) and Bell, Book and Candle (1958), in which she played the fiancée who loses publisher 'Shep' Henderson (James Stewart) to the spell-casting witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak). On television, she appeared in the Checkmate episode "The Mask of Vengeance" (1960), where she played Elena Nardos, the roommate of Cloris Leachman's character, Marilyn Parker. She was also in The Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare as a Child." She appeared as different characters in three episodes of Route 66. She acted as both Barbara Webb and Barbara Wells with David Janssen in two episodes of The Fugitive entitled "Wife Killer" and "The Walls of Night". She also had a major role as Nancy Reade in "Three Bells to Perdido", the debut episode of the Richard Boone western Have Gun – Will Travel. Rule also starred, second billing to Yul Brynner, in the 1964 film western tale Invitation to a Gunfighter.

Among her later film roles were Emily Stewart in The Chase (1966), Sheila Sommers in The Ambushers (where she was amusingly undressed by way of a villain's magnetic gun), Burt Lancaster's bitter ex-lover in The Swimmer (1968), Willie in Robert Altman's 3 Women (1977), journalist Kate Newman in Costa Gavras' political thriller Missing (1982), and Kevin Costner's mother in American Flyers (1985).

Personal life[edit]

Rule had a brief engagement to Farley Granger in 1956. They had appeared in the Broadway play The Carefree Tree in 1955. Next followed a relationship with Ralph Meeker; Meeker had played Hal in Picnic.

Rule was briefly married, during 1955, to television and film writer N. Richard Nash. Her second marriage was to television and film writer Robert Thom in 1956;[9] they had one daughter, Kate Thom, before divorcing in 1961.[10] Her last marriage was to actor Ben Gazzara in 1961, having one daughter, Elizabeth Gazzara, together before their divorce in 1982.

During the 1960s she became interested in psychoanalysis. She began her formal studies in 1973, specializing in treating her fellow actors,[2] and received her PhD 10 years later from the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute in Los Angeles. She practiced in New York and Los Angeles, and continued to act occasionally until her death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2003. She was cremated after her death.[11]

She was survived by her daughters, Kate Thom Fitzgerald and film editor Elizabeth Gazzara, both of Brooklyn;[12] her sisters, Kathleen Rule of Oceano, California; Ann Nader of San Marcos, California; and Emily Forbes of Las Cruces, New Mexico; and her brother Ralph of Mallorca, Spain.

Partial filmography[edit]

Television roles[edit]

By an odd coincidence, Rule appeared in the first or second episode of four long-running television series: Have Gun – Will Travel episode 1; Route 66 episode 2; The Streets of San Francisco episode 2; and, Barnaby Jones episode 2.


  1. ^ a b c Obituary: Janice Rule, Daily Telegraph (London), October 24, 2003
  2. ^ a b c Ann Guerin "If Ben Gazzara Gets Hung Up, the Analyst Is Always In: It's His Wife, Janice Rule", People (magazine), 5:25, June 28, 1976
  3. ^ a b Kenneth Jones "Janice Rule, of Broadway's Picnic, Dead at 72", Playbill, October 22, 2003
  4. ^ Ben Sisario "Janice Rule, 72, Film Actress Who Became a Psychoanalyst", New York Times, October 22, 2003
  5. ^ For a summary of various accounts, see Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002, p. 157-158
  6. ^ a b c Ronald Bergan Obituary: Janice Rule, The Guardian, October 23, 2003
  7. ^ a b Mary Rourke "Janice Rule, 72; Broadway Dancer, 'Picnic' Actress Also Was in Films", Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2003
  8. ^ "The Night Circus @ John Golden Theatre". Playbill. Playbill, Inc. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  9. ^ Cook, Joan (May 12, 1979). "Robert Thom, Writer Of Plays, Screenplays, Novels and Poems, 49". The New York Times. p. 6.
  10. ^ "Obituaries: Janice Rule, Actress turned Psychologist". The Independent. October 30, 2003.
  11. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Obituary at Guardian.com

External links[edit]