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|Also Known As:||Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg,Joyce Franklin||Died:|
|Born:||February 15, 1951||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Hillingdon, England, GB||Profession:||Cast ... actor producer ballet dancer children's book author|
Beautiful, erudite and seemingly ageless, British actress Jane Seymour transitioned from young ingénue to mature leading lady and dependable supporting player in over 100 film and television productions. After making her screen debut with an uncredited turn in Richard Attenborough's "Oh! What a Lovely War" (1969), Seymour found herself in high demand. She achieved instant fame as Solitaire, one of the more popular Bond Girls, opposite Roger Moore in "Live and Let Die" (1973) and solidified her status as a fanboy favorite in such genre movies as "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" (1977). Her performance in the cult-classic "Somewhere in Time" (1980), as an early 20th-Century actress in love with a man from the future (Christopher Reeve), endeared her to scores of hopeless romantics as well. Seymour's most enduring role, however, would be that of the indomitable, pioneering 19th-Century physician, "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman" (CBS, 1993-98), which earned the actress a Golden Globe Award. She later had fun skewering her prim onscreen persona with a hilarious turn as the mercurial cougar "Kitty Kat" Cleary in the smash comedy "Wedding Crashers" (2005). Happily married to actor-director James Keach for years, a middle-aged Seymour settled in to the successful TV movie franchise with the comedic mysteries "Dear Prudence" (Hallmark, 2008) and "Perfectly Prudence" (Hallmark, 2011). More than 40 years after beginning her career, Seymour remained as luminous and vibrant as ever, but far more adventurous than many of her peers.
Born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg on Feb. 15, 1951 in Hayes, Middlesex, England, she was the daughter of obstetrician John Benjamin Frankenberg and Mieke van Trigt, a nurse. Trained at the Arts Educational School in Tring, Hertfordshire, Seymour's exotic looks earned her an uncredited part in Richard Attenborough's 1969 film adaptation of Charles Chilton's play "Oh! What a Lovely War" at the tender age of 18. From that point forward, barely a year would go by without the actress appearing on screens of one sort or another. Soon after appearing in "Oh! What a Lovely War," she married the director's son, Michael Attenborough, in a short-lived union that would become the first of several for Seymour. Her first major film credit came with "The Only Way" (1970), a Danish production about a Jewish family trying to escape from Denmark before the German occupation of 1940. Various U.K.-based film and television appearances followed, including Attenborough's Churchill biopic, "Young Winston" (1972) and a turn as the doomed object of the Creature's (Michael Sarrazin) affection in one of the more faithful renditions of Mary Shelley's horror classic, "Frankenstein: The True Story" (NBC, 1973).
Seymour's international breakthrough came when producer Albert R. Broccoli cast her as the latest Bond Girl in the post-Connery rebooting of the 007 franchise, "Live and Let Die" (1973). Cast as the virginal tarot card reader Solitaire, the stunningly beautiful actress was one of the more alluring women to succumb to the charms of the new Bond (Roger Moore). Due to her 007 exposure, Seymour soon found herself cast in a plethora of genre films, ranging from period fantasy to sci-fi adventure, among them the Harryhausen cult favorite, "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" (1977) and the brief TV sensation, "Battlestar Galactica" (ABC, 1978-79), on which she played Serina, the doomed love interest of Apollo (Richard Hatch) for the show's first few episodes. Seymour also went undercover as journalist Laura Cole in "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders" (ABC, 1979) before literally going to the dogs in the family adventure, "Oh Heavenly Dog" (1980), starring opposite Chevy Chase and canine superstar Benji.
Although it faired poorly in theaters at the time of its release, "Somewhere in Time" (1980) - a romantic fantasy in which a young playwright (Christopher Reeve) wills himself back in time to be with an early-20th-Century actress (Seymour) - went on to gain a devoted cult following, even spawning a yearly pilgrimage to the site of the Victorian era hotel where the epic love story was filmed in Northern Michigan. Appearing in several tales based on famous works of literature, she was seen as Cathy and Kate Ames in "John Steinbeck's East of Eden" (ABC, 1981) and in period classics like "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (CBS, 1982) and "The Phantom of the Opera" (CBS, 1983). After a seductive appearance opposite leading man Tom Selleck in the slick heist film "Lassiter" (1984), Seymour worked with the esteemed Michael Caine in the miniseries "Jack the Ripper" (CBS, 1988) and took part in the massive WWII epic "War and Remembrance" (ABC, 1988-89), a continuation of the story begun in the network's 1983 adaptation of Herman Wouk's "Winds of War."
Seymour became one of the reigning queens of the telepic in the early-1990s - in a mix of woman-in-jeopardy or mysterious vixen roles - beginning with "Sunstroke" (USA Network, 1992), in which she played a woman searching for her daughter in the Arizona desert, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. As the star and executive producer of the project, Seymour worked intimately with the movie's director, James Keach, the actor-producer brother of actor Stacey Keach. With her 10-year marriage to David Flynn having ended earlier that year, followed by a brief romantic relationship with Chicago front man Peter Cetera, the actress suddenly found herself falling in love with Keach, who she married in 1993. She broke away from the damsel in distress roles to play a proactive woman of adventure on her career-defining TV series, "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman" (CBS, 1993-98). On the popular family drama, Seymour played Doctor Dr. Michaela 'Mike' Quinn, a compassionate Boston physician making a new life for herself in the wilds of post-Civil War era Colorado. Quinn's weekly exploits, combined with an evolving love-affair with rugged outdoorsman Byron Sully (Joe Lando), kept audiences invested over the course of six seasons and several made-for-TV movies.
During this exceptionally productive period, Seymour and Keach also welcomed twins Johnny Stacy and Kristopher Steven into the world in November 1995. Named after family friends Johnny Cash and Christopher Reeve, the tribute to Reeve was especially heartfelt, as the beloved actor had recently been paralyzed in a tragic equestrian accident earlier that year. Along with her husband, Seymour coauthored the first of several children's books, Yum! A Tale of Two Cookies in 1998, just one of several literary endeavors the multi-talented actress would undertake over the years. With work on her regular series winding down, she transitioned smoothly with such roles as the matriarch of the castaway family in a remake of "The Swiss Family Robinson" (ABC, 1999) followed by two final appearances as the frontier doctor in the telepics "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie" (CBS, 1999) and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Heart Within" (CBS, 2001).
Beginning in 2004, Seymour took on a recurring role as Genevieve Teague on The WB's pre-Superman series "Smallville," playing the wealthy, conniving mother of Jason McTeague (Jensen Ackles), fiancé to girl-next-door, Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk). Seymour made a welcome return to feature films with a brazen appearance in the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn comedy "Wedding Crashers" (2005), playing socialite Kathleen "Kitty Kat" Cleary, a woman whose "social addiction" forces her to constantly seek the attentions of younger men. Much to the shock and delight of fans, Seymour daringly played a revealing scene with Wilson for some of the film's biggest laughs. Hot off the success of "Wedding Crashers," Seymour returned to television as the star of the short-lived comedy "Modern Men" (The WB, 2006), playing Dr. Stangel, a life coach hired to help three twenty-something friends navigate their complex romantic lives. The actress continued to defy audience expectations when she joined the fifth season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ). And while she may not have won the coveted mirror ball trophy, Seymour more than earned the respect of fans when she soldiered on through the death of her mother who passed in the midst of the season.
Back on the silver screen, Seymour played a well-meaning mother trying to have a heart-to-heart discussion with her daughter in the ensemble dramedy, "After Sex" (2007) then appeared on television as one member of a family of suspects in an adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Marple: Ordeal of Innocence" (PBS, 2007). Adding a bit of comedy to the mystery mix, she later played a home advice personality who becomes involved in a murder mystery while on vacation in "Dear Prudence" (Hallmark, 2009). On the opposite side of the equation from her "Dancing with the Stars" stint, Seymour served as guest judge in episodes of "Iron Chef America: The Series" (Food Network, 2004- ) in 2010. The following year, Seymour returned as homemaking maven Prudence McCoy in "Perfectly Prudence" (Hallmark, 2011) and picked up a guest appearance on the third season of the mystery-romance series "Castle" (ABC, 2009- ). On the big screen that year, the actress played Mandy Moore's mother in the Dermot Mulroney-directed romantic comedy "Love, Wedding, Marriage" (2011). In April 2013, Seymour announced the end of her marriage to Keach, citing irreconcilable differences; she filed legal separation papers in October of that year.
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