Jeanne Bates

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Jeanne Bates
Born(1918-05-21)May 21, 1918
Berkeley, California, U.S.
DiedNovember 28, 2007(2007-11-28) (aged 89)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1943–2002
Lew X. Lansworth
(m. 1943; died 1981)

Jeanne Bates (May 21, 1918 – November 28, 2007) was an American radio, film and television actress. After performing in radio serials, she signed a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1942 which began her career in films both in bit parts and larger roles in a series of horror films and noirs, including The Return of the Vampire (1943) and Shadows in the Night (1946).

In her later career, Bates would collaborate with David Lynch on his films Eraserhead (1977) and Mulholland Drive (2001), the latter of which was her last film credit before her death in 2007.


Bates was born in Berkeley, California in 1918.[1][2] She began her acting career while attending San Mateo Junior College, with roles on radio soap operas produced in San Francisco. Bates had the lead role, and supplied the signature scream, on the radio mystery series Whodunit. In 1943, she married the writer of Whodunit, Lew X. Lansworth (1904–1981).

She also had her film debut in 1943, in a Boston Blackie mystery, The Chance of a Lifetime. She played Bela Lugosi's first victim in The Return of the Vampire (1943),[2] Diana Palmer in The Phantom (1943),[2] and she had a minor role in Death of a Salesman (1951).

Bates worked steadily in television beginning in the 1950s, including an appearance on the syndicated western series The Range Rider, and thereafter on episodes of NBC's Buckskin, Riverboat, and Peter Gunn, as well as the crime drama Sheriff of Cochise, and the aviation adventure series Sky King and Whirlybirds. She also appeared in a 1956 episode of The Lone Ranger entitled "Cross of Santo Domingo".

In the series premiere, "The Ferris Wheel" (September 23, 1958), of the syndicated television series, Rescue 8, starring Jim Davis and Lang Jeffries, Bates played a woman recently released from a mental institution who is trapped at the top of a Ferris wheel with her young daughter, portrayed by Gina Gillespie. Rand Brooks guest stars in the episode as Tom Hickey.[3] That year she made three appearances on Perry Mason, most notably as Jean Strague in "The Case of the Buried Clock".

In 1960, she was cast as Mrs. Grandsoir in the episode "Mrs. Viner Vanishes" of the ABC/Warner Brothers crime drama Bourbon Street Beat, starring Andrew Duggan. She is more remembered for having portrayed Nurse Wills on the ABC medical drama Ben Casey, from 1961 to 1966. She appeared with John Payne in various roles in five episodes of his NBC western series The Restless Gun, and also guest starred as Mrs. Wayne in the Rawhide episode "Incident of the Tinkers Dam".

Bates, who also taught acting, also appeared in films such as The Strangler (1964), Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came (1970), and David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977) as Mrs. X.[4] In July 1982, she appeared on Broadway as Mrs. Bixby in a production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.[5] Her last roles were small parts in Die Hard 2 (1990), Grand Canyon (1991), Dream Lover (1994) and Mulholland Drive (2001).

Personal life[edit]

Bates married Lew X. Lansworth in 1943[6] and was married to him until his death in 1981.


She died of breast cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1943 The Chance of a Lifetime Mary Watson
1943 The Return of the Vampire Miss Norcutt Uncredited
1943 There's Something About a Soldier Phyllis Uncredited
1943 The Phantom Diana Palmer
1944 The Racket Man Phyllis Lake
1944 Sundown Valley Sidney Hawkins
1944 Hey, Rookie Chief W.A.C. Uncredited
1944 The Black Parachute Olga
1944 She's a Soldier Too "Red" Burns Uncredited
1944 Shadows in the Night Adele Carter
1944 The Soul of a Monster Anne Winson Also known as Death Walks Alone[8]
1944 It's Murder Mrs. Tom Blair Short film
1944 Sergeant Mike Terry Arno
1945 Tonight and Every Night W.A.C. Woman Uncredited
1946 The Mask of Diijon Victoria
1951 The Living Christ Series Mary, Sister of Lazarus Miniseries
1951 Trouble In-Laws Mrs. Herbert Short film
1951 Death of a Salesman Mother Uncredited
1952 Paula Attending Nurse Uncredited
1954 Sabaka Durga
1956 Tension at Table Rock Mrs. Brice Uncredited
1957 Trooper Hook Ann Weaver
1957 Back from the Dead Agnes
1958 Blood Arrow Almee
1959 Hi, Grandma! Television film
1960 Vice Raid Marilyn Uncredited
1964 The Strangler Clara Thomas
1970 Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came Mrs. Flanders
1976 Gus Nurse
1977 Eraserhead Mrs. X
1977 Poco... Little Dog Lost Mrs. John Ashmore
1986 Touch and Go Woman at the Morgue
1989 From the Dead of Night Nurse Television film
1990 Die Hard 2 Older Woman (Northeast Plane)
1990 Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation Katherine
1991 Mom Emily Dwyer
1991 Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue Mrs. Felt
1991 Grand Canyon Mrs. Menken
1994 Dream Lover Jeanne
2001 Mulholland Drive Irene



  1. ^ "California Birth Index, 1905-1995," database, FamilySearch ( : 27 November 2014), Jeanne Bates, 21 May 1918; citing Alameda, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.
  2. ^ a b c Weaver 2003, p. 52.
  3. ^ ""The Ferris Wheel" on Rescue 8, September 23, 1958". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  4. ^ Paszylk 2009, p. 146.
  5. ^ Dietz 2016, p. 143.
  6. ^ Weaver 2010, p. 52.
  7. ^ Variety Staff (February 1, 2008). "Actress Jeanne Bates dies at 89". Variety. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  8. ^ Blottner 2015, p. 210.


  • Blottner, Gene (2015). Columbia Noir: A Complete Filmography, 1940-1962. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-78647-014-3.
  • Dietz, Dan (2016). The Complete Book of 1980s Broadway Musicals. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1-44226-091-7.
  • Paszylk, Bartlomiej (2009). The Pleasure and Pain of Cult Horror Films: An Historical Survey. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-78643-695-8.
  • Weaver, Tom (2003). Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland Classics. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-78641-366-9.

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