Thursday, 7 May 2015

Vintage Beauty - Janet Blair

Today another vintage beauty - actress Janet Blair.

Born as Martha Jane (or Jean) Lafferty (she took her acting surname from Blair County, Pennsylvania) in Altoona, Pennsylvania on 23 April 1921.

Ms Blair began her acting career on film in 1941 in 'Three Girls About Town',a Columbia comedy film also staring Joan Blondell and Binnie Barnes.

In 1942, with Fred Astaire in 'You'll never get rich,' as well as 'Blondie Goes to College', 'Two Yanks in Trinidad', 'Broadway' and 'My Sister Eileen', with Rosalind Russel, while being placed under contract to Columbia Pictures. During World War II, she made a string of successful pictures. Her singing and dancing made her a popular entertainer on several bond-selling tours, and after filming 'Once Upon a Time' with Cary Grant she went on a tour of American Army Camps.

In 1943 she married Sargent Louis Ferdinand Busch, US Army, whom she met while singing with the late Hal Kemp's band, where Busch was piano player and arranger. Ms Blair bought an interest in a music publishing business in Los Angeles and contracted all of Kemp's musicians.

In 1944 Ms Blair filmed the technicolor 'Tonight and Every Night', where she played Rita Hayworth's best friend. In the late 1940s, she was dropped by Columbia and did not return to pictures for several years.



In 1946 she filmed 'Gallant Journey' with Glen Ford.

Janet Blair and Glen Ford, 1946

Janet Blair in 1946
1946 in Gallant Journey
In 1947 Columbia loaned Ms Blair to United Artist for 'The Fabulous Dorsey's"  a film about the famous dance-band leaders. 

Janet Blair in 1947
With red hair in 1947
In 1948 Ms Blair appeared in three movies, including the film noir 'I love trouble', and also appeared on television in 'The Ford Theater Hour.'

Blair played Nellie Forbush in a touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific; she starred in that musical for over 3 years, and claimed to never have missed a performance. She was also seen in a national tour of Mame, with Bells Are Ringing and Follies among other theatre credits.  During the tour, she also got married to second husband, producer-director Nick Mayo, and they became parents of Amanda and Andrew. They divorced in 1971.

She also starred on Broadway in the 1953 play 'A Girl Can Tell', by F. Hugh Herbert. It ran for 60 performances at the Royale Theatre.

She appeared on television on various variety shows including "The Ford Theatre Hour," "The United States Steel Hour," "A Connecticut Yankee," "One Touch of Venus" (in which she played the title role), "The Chevy Mystery Show," "The Outer Limits," "Destry," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat," and "Murder, She Wrote" ( her last TV appearance, 1991).

Blair recorded an album in the early 1960s entitled 'Flame Out' - a collection of ballads like "Don't Explain" and "Then You've Never Been Blue".  

the record!
She also made a rare dramatic appearance in the 1962 British horror film Night of the Eagle (Burn witch burn), as Tansy Taylor.

Blair as Tansy Taylor
She died at the age of 86, of complications from pneumonia, at Saint John's Health Centre in Santa Monica on 19 February 2007.

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