|Born||Donna Mae Tjaden
September 16, 1922
Tacoma, Washington, US
|Spouse(s)||Frank Martinelli, Jr.
(m. 1947-1951; divorced)
(m. 1956-1957; divorced)
(m. 1962-1976; his death)
Janis Paige (born September 16, 1922) is an American film, musical theatre and television actress.
Early life and career
Born Donna Mae Tjaden in Tacoma, Washington, she began singing in public at age five in local amateur shows. She moved to Los Angeles after graduating from high school and was hired as a singer at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II.
The Hollywood Canteen was a studio-sponsored club for members of the military. A Warner Bros. agent saw her potential and signed her to a contract. She began co-starring in low budget musicals, often paired with Dennis Morgan or Jack Carson. She co-starred in Romance on the High Seas (1948), the film in which Doris Day made her movie debut. Paige later co-starred in adventures and dramas, in which she felt out of place. Following her role in Two Gals and a Guy (1951), she decided to leave Hollywood.
Paige appeared on Broadway and was a huge hit in a 1951 comedy-mystery play, Remains to Be Seen, co-starring Jackie Cooper. She also toured successfully as a cabaret singer. In April 1947 Paige was crowned "Miss Damsite" and participated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the McNary Dam, on the Columbia River, alongside Cornelia Morton McNary, the Senator's widow, and Oregon's governor, Earl Snell.
Stardom came in 1954 with her role as "Babe" in the Broadway musical The Pajama Game. (Doris Day played the part on film.) She was given the December 1954 cover of Esquire magazine, where she was featured in a seductive pose taken by American photographer, Maxwell Frederic Coplan. After six years away, Paige returned to Hollywood in Silk Stockings (1957), which starred Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, the Doris Day comedy Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960), and as a love-starved married neighbor in Bachelor in Paradise (1961) with Bob Hope.
A rare dramatic role was as "Marion," an institutionalized prostitute, in The Caretakers (1963).
Paige returned to Broadway in 1963 in the short-lived Here's Love, and as one of a succession of actresses playing the title role in the musical Mame. She also appeared in touring productions of musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun, Applause, Sweet Charity, Ballroom, Gypsy: A Musical Fable, and Guys and Dolls.
In the 1955-1956 television season, Paige starred in her own CBS situation comedy, It's Always Jan, co-starring Merry Anders. The 26-week program preceded the first season of Gunsmoke on the Saturday evening schedule. The plot, set in New York City, centered around Paige as Jan Stewart, a widowed mother, and her two female roommates played by Anders and Patricia Bright.
Paige made her live dramatic TV debut June 27, 1957, in "The Latch Key" on Lux Video Theatre. She appeared as troubadour Hallie Martin in The Fugitive episode "Ballad For a Ghost" (1964). Paige had a recurring role as "Auntie V", Tom Bradford's erstwhile sister, in Eight Is Enough.
She also appeared on 87th Precinct (TV series),The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, Trapper John, M.D., All in the Family, Columbo and Caroline in the City, and in the 1975 television movie John O'Hara's Gibbsville (also known as The Turning Point of Jim Malloy). In the 1980s and 1990s, she was seen on the soap operas Capitol (1987, as Sam Clegg's first wife, Laureen), General Hospital (1989-1990, as Katharine Delafield's flashy Aunt Iona, a lady counterfeiter and Santa Barbara (1990-1993, replacing the much older Dame Judith Anderson as matriarch Minx Lockridge). In 1982, she appeared on St. Elsewhere as a female flasher who stalked the hallways of the hospital to "cheer up" the male patients. Although her character said she was "celebrating her 50th birthday," Ms. Paige was actually 60 at the time of filming.
Paige has been married to:
- Frank Louis Martinelli Jr, restaurateur; married 1947, divorced 1950
- Arthur Stander, television writer and creator of It's Always Jan; married 1956, divorced 1957
- Ray Gilbert, composer and music publisher; married 1962, died 1976; he wrote the classic song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah".
She has no children.
- Bathing Beauty (1944)
- Hollywood Canteen (1944)
- Her Kind of Man (1946)
- Of Human Bondage (1946)
- Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946)
- The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946)
- Always Together (1947)
- "Cheyenne" (1947)
- Winter Meeting (1948)
- Wallflower (1948)
- Romance on the High Seas (1948)
- One Sunday Afternoon (1948)
- Fugitive Lady (1949)
- The Younger Brothers (1949)
- The House Across the Street (1949)
- This Side of The Law (1950)
- Mr. Universe (1951)
- Two Gals and a Guy (1951)
- Silk Stockings (1957)
- Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)
- Bachelor in Paradise (1961)
- Follow the Boys (1963)
- The Caretakers (1963)
- Welcome to Hard Times (1967)
- Love at the Top (1982)
- I Won't Play (1944)
- So You Want to Be in Pictures (1947)
- So You Want to Be an Actor (1949)
- Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (2003) documentary
Selected television work
- Bonnie Maid's Versatile Varieties (1949-50)
- It's Always Jan (1955–1956)
- The Secret World of Eddie Hodges (1960)
- The Fugitive episode "Ballad for a Ghost" (1964)
- Columbo: Blueprint for Murder (Feb 1972)
- All in the Family (1976 and 1978)
- Eight Is Enough (1977–1980) recurring role as Aunt Vivian ('Auntie V')
- Charlie's Angels (1978)
- Hawaii Five-O episode "The Case Against Philip Christie" (1978)
- Happy Days (1981)
- Bret Maverick (1981) pilot for series
- Too Close For Comfort (1982)
- Baby Makes Five (1983)
- The Other Woman (1983)
- Night Court (1984)
- Trapper John, M.D. (cast member from 1985–1986)
- Capitol (cast member in 1987)
- General Hospital (cast member in 1989)
- Santa Barbara (cast member from 1990–1993)
- Remains to Be Seen (1951)
- The Pajama Game (1954)
- Here's Love (1963)
- Guys and Dolls (1963)
- Gypsy (1966)
- Mame (1968)
- Born Yesterday (1970)
- Gypsy (1970)
- Applause (1971)
- Desk Set (1973)
- Gypsy (1974)
- Annie Get Your Gun (1975)
- The Gingerbread Lady (1975)
- Guys and Dolls (1978)
- High Button Shoes (1978)
- Ballroom (1979)
- Alone Together (1984)
- The Gingerbread Lady (1986)
- Happy Birthday, Mr. Abbott! or Night of 100 Years (1987)
- Janis Paige at the Internet Movie Database
- Janis Paige at the Internet Broadway Database
- Janis Paige at AllMovie