Jean Parker

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Jean Parker
Jean Parker 1934.png
Born Luise Stephanie Zelinska
(1915-08-11)August 11, 1915
Deer Lodge, Montana, U.S.
Died November 30, 2005(2005-11-30) (aged 90)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
Other names Lois Mae Green
Years active 1932–1966
Spouse(s) Robert Lowery (1951–1957;1 child)
Curtis Grotter (1944–1949; divorced)
Douglas Dawson (1941–1943; divorced)
George MacDonald (1936–1940; divorced)

Jean Parker (born Luise Stephanie Zelinska, August 11, 1915 – November 30, 2005) was an American film and stage actress. She landed her first screen test while still in high school. She acted opposite such well-known actors as Katharine Hepburn, Robert Donat, Edward G. Robinson, Randolph Scott and Laurel and Hardy. She was married four times and had one son, Robert Lowery Hanks.


Born as Luise Stephanie Zelinska in Deer Lodge, Montana of Polish-French descent, both her father, who was variously a gunsmith, a hunter and a chef, and her mother, one of 18 children of a pioneer family, were unemployed during the depression of the 1930s.[1] In her adolescence, she chose to go by the name Lois Mae Green.[2]

She appeared in 70 movies from 1932 through 1966. In 1932, she posed as a flower girl and living poster in a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade, where she was seen by Ida Koverman, secretary to MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer. The following day the studio called her on the phone and invited her for a screen test.[3] She attended Pasadena schools and graduated from John Muir High School. Her original aspirations were in the fine arts and illustration.[4]

She had a successful career at MGM, RKO and Columbia including roles in such films as Little Women, Lady for a Day, Gabriel Over the White House, Limehouse Blues, The Ghost Goes West, and Rasputin and the Empress. In 1939, she starred opposite Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in RKO's The Flying Deuces. Parker auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Melanie in the film Gone with the Wind. On November 9, 1939 she opened the Downtown Theatre in Oakland, California, and in December 1941, at the Orinda Theater in Contra Costa County.[3]

Parker remained active in film throughout the 1940s, playing opposite Lon Chaney in Dead Man's Eyes, and a variety of other films. Parker managed her own airport and flying service with then-husband Doug Dawson in Palm Springs, California until shortly after the start of World War II. During the war, she toured many of the veteran hospitals throughout the U.S. and performed on radio. In the 1950s, Parker co-starred opposite Edward G. Robinson in Black Tuesday; had a small but effective role in The Gunfighter, and appeared in A Lawless Street (1955). Her last film appearance was Apache Uprising (1966).

Parker also appeared on Broadway. In 1949, she replaced Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday on Broadway and enjoyed a successful run in this classic. Parker also appeared on Broadway opposite Bert Lahr in the play Burlesque, did summer stock in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was on tour in the play Candlelight and Loco, and performed on stage in other professional productions.[citation needed] In 1954, Parker played the role of Cattle Kate Watson of Wyoming in an episode of the syndicated television series Stories of the Century, the first western program to win an Emmy Award. The series starred and was narrated by Jim Davis.[5] Later in her career and life, Parker continued a successful stint on the West Coast theatre circuit and worked as an acting coach.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Utilizing her artistic talents, Parker contracted in June 1935 to make eight original sketches a month for a Beverly Hills shop.[3]

In December 1935, Parker became engaged to New York socialite newspaperman George E. McDonald, and eloped with him to Las Vegas on March 21, 1936. McDonald continued his business affairs on the East Coast, and after less than four years of marriage, Parker was granted an interlocutory decree of divorce on January 23, 1940. On February 14, 1941, Parker married Los Angeles radio commentator Henry Dawson Sanders, known professionally as Doug Dawson. The couple operated a flying service from Palm Springs Airport in California, which was shuttered at the outbreak of World War II. In July 1942, her husband joined the Coast Guard, and in September 1942 they separated and were divorced in July 1943. A month after she was granted her final divorce decree on July 29, 1944, Parker married Dr. Kurt "Curtis" Arthur Grotter, a Hollywood insurance broker and former correspondent for a group of Czechoslovakian newspapers and active with the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, as he had a substantial loss of vision. They were separated on June 19, 1949, and divorced on December 29, 1949. On May 19, 1951, she secretly married actor Robert Lowery, at the home of a friend in Hialeah, Florida. Lowery had played Batman in 1949; he was featured in over seventy films in his own career. By this marriage, she bore her only child.

While appearing at a nightclub in Sydney, Australia[6] in 1951, Parker made international headlines when she was escorted off Bondi Beach by swimsuit inspector Abe Laidlaw, who measured her bikini and determined it was too skimpy.[3][7] In 1952, Parker gave birth to a son, Robert Lowery Hanks, who works as an executive for the city of Los Angeles. She and Lowery filed for divorce in September 1957, but it was never finalized.[3]


At age 83, Parker moved into the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, where she died of a stroke on November 30, 2005, at the age of 90. She was survived by her son, Robert, and granddaughters Katie and Nora Hanks. She was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
1932 Rasputin and the Empress Princess Maria Uncredited
1932 Divorce in the Family Lucile
1933 Gabriel Over the White House Alice Bronson
1933 The Secret of Madame Blanche Eloise
1933 Made on Broadway Adele
1933 What Price Innocence? Ruth Harper
1933 Storm at Daybreak Danitza
1933 Lady for a Day Louise
1933 Little Women Beth March
1934 Two Alone Mazy
1934 You Can't Buy Everything Elizabeth 'Beth' Burton Bell
1934 Lazy River Sarah Lescalle
1934 Operator 13 Eleanor Shackleford
1934 Have a Heart Sally Moore
1934 Caravan Timka
1934 A Wicked Woman Rosanne
1934 Limehouse Blues Toni
1934 Sequoia Toni Martin
1935 Princess O'Hara Princess O'Hara
1935 Murder in the Fleet Betty Lansing
1935 The Ghost Goes West Peggy Martin
1935 The Texas Rangers Amanda Bailey
1936 The Farmer in the Dell Adie Boye
1937 Life Begins with Love Carole Martin
1937 The Barrier Necia Gale
1938 Penitentiary Elizabeth Mathews
1938 Romance of the Limberlost Laurie
1938 The Arkansas Traveler Judy Allen
1939 Romance of the Redwoods June Martin
1939 Zenobia Mary Tibbett
1939 She Married a Cop Linda Fay
1939 Flight at Midnight Maxine Scott
1939 The Flying Deuces Georgette
1939 Parents on Trial Susan Wesley
1940 Knights of the Range Holly Ripple
1940 Son of the Navy Stevie Moore
1940 Beyond Tomorrow Jean Lawrence
1940 Young America Files Jane Short film
1941 Roar of the Press Alice Williams
1941 Power Dive Carol Blake
1941 The Pittsburgh Kid Patricia Mallory
1941 Flying Blind Shirley Brooks
1941 No Hands on the Clock Louise Campbell
1942 Torpedo Boat Grace Holman
1942 I Live on Danger Susan Richards
1942 The Girl from Alaska Mary 'Pete' McCoy
1942 Hello, Annapolis Doris Henley
1942 Tomorrow We Live Julie Bronson
1942 Hi, Neighbor Dorothy Greenfield
1942 Wrecking Crew Peggy Starr
1942 The Traitor Within Molly Betts
1943 High Explosive Connie Baker
1943 Alaska Highway Ann Coswell
1943 Minesweeper Mary Smith
1943 The Deerslayer Judith Hutter
1944 The Navy Way Ellen Sayre
1944 Lady in the Death House Mary Kirk Logan
1944 Detective Kitty O'Day Kitty O'Day
1944 Oh, What a Night Valerie
1944 Dead Man's Eyes Heather Hayden
1944 Bluebeard Lucille Lutien
1944 One Body Too Many Carol Dunlap
1945 Adventures of Kitty O'Day Kitty O'Day
1946 Rolling Home Frances Crawford
1950 The Gunfighter Molly
1952 Toughest Man in Arizona Della
1953 Those Redheads From Seattle Liz
1954 Black Tuesday Hattie Combest
1955 A Lawless Street Cora Dean
1957 The Parson and the Outlaw Mrs. Sarah Jones
1965 Apache Uprising Mrs. Hawks


  1. ^ "Who's Who in Polish America" by Rev. Francis Bolek, Editor-in-Chief; Harbinger House, New York, 1943
  2. ^ Obituary,, December 13, 2005; accessed July 3, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Jean Parker – The Private Life and Times of Jean Parker.". Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ Van Neste, Dan. ""Bonny Jean": Remembering Jean Parker (1915–2005)". Classic Images (Muscatine, IA). Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television. New York: Penguin. p. 793. ISBN 978-0-14-024916-3. 
  6. ^ "Actress Sent off Bondi Beach". The Age. November 3, 1951. p. 3. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  7. ^ Marks, Kathy (December 31, 2008). "Topless wars reignited on Australia's beaches". The Independent (London, UK). Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  8. ^ Jean Parker at Find a Grave

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