Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Jeff Donnell (1921-1988)

Jeff Donnell was born Jean Marie Donnell in a boy's reformatory in South Windham, Maine in 1921, her father a penologist and mother a schoolteacher. It was during her upbringing at the all-male reformatory that she gave herself the nickname "Jeff." She met her first husband, a drama teacher from her Boston alma mater, Leland Powers Drama School, and married him at the age of 19. Together they started the Farragut Playhouse in Rye, New Hampshire, and almost immediately she was noticed in a play there by a Columbia Studios talent scout and signed. Whisked to Los Angeles, she appeared in her first movie, My Sister Eileen (1942) and her husband was hired as a dialogue director.

Publicity still with Adele Mara in 1942

My Sister Eileen (1942)

The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)

Roughshod (1949)

with Gloria Grahame, Robert Sterling, Myrna Dell and Martha Hyer
in Roughshod (1949)

Roughshod (1949) with Claude Jarman Jr.

in Post Office Investigator (1949) with Audrey Long and Warren Douglas

In a Lonely Place (1950) with Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame and Frank Lovejoy

In a Lonely Place (1950) with Humphrey Bogart and Frank Lovejoy

Hardly the chic, glamour girl type, Jeff possessed a perky, unpretentious charm and demeanor that fit comfortably as an occasional light love interest or sidekick. She made a successful move to TV in the early 50s and was seen in a number of comedy and dramatic parts, including a long stint in "General Hospital" in the 1980s.

Skirts Ahoy! (1952)

Skirts Ahoy! (1952)

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