A former Ziegfeld Girl and a Goldwyn Girl, Howard studied photography at the Los Angeles Art Center. Howard appeared on Broadway in three productions: The Age of Innocence with Franchot Tone; Ziegfeld Follies of 1931 with Iris Adrian and Harry Richman; and Evensong.
She often used her camera to capture moments from Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s. She photographed parties, gatherings, sports tournaments, etc., shooting Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, Richard Burton, Cole Porter, Judy Garland, Grace Kelly, Hedy Lamarr, Jennifer Jones, Deborah Kerr, Geraldine Page, Ethel Barrymore, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. In 1989, a book of her photography was published, Jean Howard's Hollywood, a tribute to the golden days of Hollywood.
Divorced from Hollywood talent agent Charles K. Feldman in 1948, the couple continued to live together until his death in 1968. Inheriting a fortune in jewels from Linda and Cole Porter, Jean lived on the island of Capri where she married Tony Santoro, an Italian musician. She died in 2000, aged 89. She had no children. She is interred in the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California.
- The Stars of Hollywood Forever: 1901-2006 (ISBN 0917083601/ISBN 978-0917083600/ASIN: B0006SA7KO); Publisher: Tony Scott Publishing; 1st edition (2001)
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