Jan Sterling


Actor
Jan Sterling

About

Also Known As
Jane Adrian, Jane Sterling, Jane Sterling Adriance
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
April 03, 1921
Died
March 26, 2004

Biography

While she hailed from a well-to-do NYC family, actress Jan Sterling carved a niche playing tough-as-nails women in 1950s films noir. While still in her teens, she made her Broadway debut (billed as Jane Sterling) in 1938's "Bachelor Born." Over the next decade, the actress amassed an impressive resume of parts in drama and musicals, notably supporting Ethel Merman in "Panama Hattie" (194...

Photos & Videos

The Harder They Fall - Movie Posters
Female on the Beach - Lobby Card Set
High School Confidential! - Lobby Card Set

Family & Companions

John Merivale
Husband
Actor. Married in 1941; divorced in 1948.
Paul Douglas
Husband
Actor. Married from 1950 until his death in September 1959; father of her son Adams.
Sam Wanamaker
Companion
Actor. Had relationship from c. 1960 to the 1980s; remained married to his wife; died in 1997.

Notes

Some sources list 1923 as the year of Ms. Sterling's birth.

Biography

While she hailed from a well-to-do NYC family, actress Jan Sterling carved a niche playing tough-as-nails women in 1950s films noir. While still in her teens, she made her Broadway debut (billed as Jane Sterling) in 1938's "Bachelor Born." Over the next decade, the actress amassed an impressive resume of parts in drama and musicals, notably supporting Ethel Merman in "Panama Hattie" (1941) and touring as Billie Dawn in "Born Yesterday" in 1947. That same year, Sterling (billed as Jane Adrian) made her feature debut in "Tycoon." Often a peroxide blonde, the actress went on to essay the wife of a rapist in "Johnny Belinda" (1948) and gave strong performances as a corrupt inmate in "Caged" (1950) and a floozy who meets an untimely end in "Mystery Street" (also 1950). Billy Wilder elicited one of her best screen portrayals as the uncaring spouse of a man (Richard Benedict) trapped in a cave-in in "The Big Carnival/Ace in the Hole" (1951). Three years later, Sterling garnered her only Oscar nomination as a mail-order bride with a past in "The High and the Mighty."

After traveling to London to undertake the female lead in the 1956 screen adaptation of George Orwell's "1984," Sterling starred in the title role of the syndicated TV series "Publicity Girl." While she continued to act up to the 1980s, she tended to concentrate more on stage work (i.e., touring as the mother in "Butterflies Are Free"), accepting the occasional film and TV role. In 1967, she was among the ensemble of "The Incident" (1967), about a crime that occurs on a NYC subway, and she was one of the few big name stars to grace the small screen in a regular role on a soap opera when she joined the cast of CBS' "The Guiding Light" in 1969. Ten years later, she essayed the role of First Lady Lou Hoover in the NBC miniseries "Backstairs at the White House." In 1981, she had her last screen role (to date), playing the wife of a US Supreme Court Justice (played by Walter Matthau) in the comedy "First Monday in October" and the following year, she made her last TV appearance (to date) as the mother of a reformed convict (Beau Bridges) in the CBS drama "Dangerous Company."

Sterling was married twice, first to actor John Merrivale (from 1941 to 1948) and then to actor Paul Douglas (from 1950 until his death in 1959).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Piece Touchee (1989)
Herself
Dangerous Company (1982)
Ray'S Mother
First Monday in October (1981)
My Kidnapper, My Love (1980)
Sammy Somebody (1976)
Having Babies (1976)
Mrs Fontreil
The Minx (1969)
Louise Baxter
The Angry Breed (1968)
Gloria Patton
The Incident (1967)
Muriel Purvis
Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961)
Sandra Slide
Kathy O' (1958)
Celeste Saunders
The Female Animal (1958)
Lily Frayne
High School Confidential! (1958)
Arlene Williams
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957)
Madge Pitts
The Harder They Fall (1956)
Beth Willis
1984 (1956)
as Julia of the Outer Party
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1956)
Female on the Beach (1955)
Amy Rawlinson
Women's Prison (1955)
Brenda Martin
Man with the Gun (1955)
Nelly Bain
Return from the Sea (1954)
Frieda
The Human Jungle (1954)
Mary Abbott
Alaska Seas (1954)
Nicky Jackson
The High and the Mighty (1954)
Sally McKee
Pony Express (1953)
Denny Russell
Split Second (1953)
Dorothy "Dottie" Vail
The Vanquished (1953)
Rose Slater
Flesh and Fury (1952)
Sonya Bartow
Sky Full of Moon (1952)
Dixie Delmar
Ace in the Hole (1951)
Lorraine [Minosa]
The Mating Season (1951)
Betsy
Appointment with Danger (1951)
Dodie [La Verne]
Rhubarb (1951)
Polly Sickles
The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950)
Rita Rossini
Caged (1950)
Smoochie
Mystery Street (1950)
Vivian Heldon
Union Station (1950)
Marge Wrighter
The Skipper Suprised His Wife (1950)
Johnny Belinda (1948)
Stella Maguire

Cast (Special)

Luxury Liner (1963)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Backstairs at the White House (1979)

Life Events

1938

Made Broadway debut billed as Jane Sterling in "Bachelor Born"

1939

Acted in the Broadway show "When We Are Married"

1941

Still billed as Jane Sterling, had featured role in the Ethel Merman vehicle "Panama Hattie"

1945

Changed billing to Jan Sterling for appearance in "The Rugged Path"

1947

First film role in "Tycoon"; billed as Jane Adrian

1947

Toured the USA as Billie Dawn in "Born Yesterday"

1948

Had featured role in "Johnny Belinda"

1949

Assumed role of Billie Dawn in the Broadway comedy "Born Yesterday"

1950

Co-starred in the women's prison drama "Caged"

1951

Offered a terrific turn as the trampy wife of a man trapped by a cave-in in "The Big Carnival", directed by Billy Wilder

1954

Garnered a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for "The High and the Mighty", playing a mail-order bride

1956

Had female lead in the film adaptation of George Orwell's "1984"

1956

Played title role in the syndicated TV series "Publicity Girl"

1958

Acted in "The Female Animal"

1967

Co-starred in "The Incident"

1969

Appeared on the CBS daytime drama "Guiding Light"

1970

Acted the part of the prostitute Molly in a revival of "The Front Page"

1976

Acted in the ABC TV movie "Having Babies"

1978

Cast in the short-lived Broadway production, "The November People"

1979

Portrayed First Lady Lou Hoover in the NBC miniseries "Backstairs at the White House"

1981

Last film acting role, as the wife of a US Supreme Court justice (Walter Matthau) in "First Monday in October"

1982

Final TV-movie, "Dangerous Company" (CBS), playing the mother of a reformed convict

Photo Collections

The Harder They Fall - Movie Posters
The Harder They Fall - Movie Posters
Female on the Beach - Lobby Card Set
Female on the Beach - Lobby Card Set
High School Confidential! - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Albert Zugsmith's High School Confidential! (1958). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The High and the Mighty - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for The High and the Mighty (1954). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Ace In The Hole (1951) - Maybe He'd Like A Little Raw Hamburger New Mexico highway cafe business booming for Lorraine (Jan Sterling) as word of her husband trapped in the cave spreads, scheming reporter Tatum (Kirk Douglas) recruits the sheriff (Ray Teal) who joins him pressuring the engineer (Frank Jaquet), in Billy Wilder's Ace In The Hole 1951.
Ace In The Hole (1951) - Mountain Of The Seven Vultures Enterprising newsman Tatum (Kirk Douglas) emerging from the New Mexico cave where a tourist-trap operator is stuck, tangling with a deputy (Gene Evans) then the wife (Jan Sterling), and calling his editor, in Billy Wilder's Ace In The Hole, 1951.
Ace In The Hole (1951) - We Had A Cave-In Jaded reporter Tatum (Kirk Douglas) and cub Herbie (Bob Arthur) have stumbled into a story headed west from Albuquerque, meeting Lorraine (Jan Sterling), her father-in-law (John Berkes) and a deputy sheriff (Gene Evans), early in Billy Wilder’s Ace In The Hole, 1951.
Women's Prison (1955) - She Is Not A Criminal Doc Crane and superintendent Van Zandt (famously turbulent married couple Howard Duff and Ida Lupino) tangle over a new inmate (Jan Sterling as Helene Jensen), who gets scolded by Saunders (Mae Clarke) and supported by Brenda (Jan Sterling), on her first night inside, in Women’s Prison, 1955.
Women's Prison (1955) - Open, You're More Than Welcome Terrific momentum, Lewis Seiler directs the quasi-documentary open, with a pointed grievance in the narration, from the original screenplay by Jack DeWitt and Crane Wilbur, as deputy Green (Lorna Thayer) delivers nervous Helene (Phyllis Thaxter) and brassy recidivist Brenda (Jan Sterling), Frank Sully the turnkey, Mae Clarke as matron Saunders, in Women’s Prison, 1955.
Women's Prison (1955) - I'm Here For A Post-Graduate Course Traumatized Helene (Phyllis Thaxter) finally joins the population after two initial weeks in quarantine, meeting friend Brenda (Jan Sterling), her pal Mae (Cleo Moore), Adelle August as Grace and Vivian Marshall as sparky Dottie, in Women’s Prison, 1955, starring Ida Lupino.
Caged (1950) - Hype The New Fish New in the women's prison, Marie (Eleanor Parker) gets support from Kitty (Betty Garde), Smoochie (Jan Sterling), Claire (Joan Miller) and wacky Georgia (Gertrude Michael) in John Cromwell's Caged, 1950.
Johnny Belinda (1948) - She'll Never Tell On You Raucous crowd led by Locky (Stephen McNally) for an impromptu dance at the McDonald farm where Robert (Lew Ayres) helps Belinda (Jane Wyman) with the music and Stella (Jan Sterling) issues a warning, in Johnny Belinda, 1948.

Trailer

Johnny Belinda - (Original Trailer) Jane Wyman won a Best Actress Award portraying a deaf-mute girl who learns to communicate with the help of a small town doctor (Lew Ayres) in Johnny Belinda (1948), directed by Jean Negulesco.
High School Confidential - (Original Trailer) Russ Tamblyn goes undercover as a student to bust a narco ring in High School Confidential (1958) with Mamie Van Doren and Jerry Lee Lewis.
High and the Mighty, The -- (Original Trailer) The passengers and crew of an imperiled airliner reflect on their lives in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty (1954), Starring John Wayne.
Union Station - (Original Trailer) A secretary gets caught up in the hunt for kidnappers at Union Station (1950) starring William Holden.
Split Second - (Original Trailer) Escaping convicts hold hostages in a ghost town, not realizing it's an A-bomb site in Split Second (1953).
Sky Full of Moon - (Original Trailer) An innocent cowboy (Carleton Carpenter) in Las Vegas stumbles into a fortune and a glamorous girlfriend (Jan Sterling) in Sky Full of Moon (1952).
Mystery Street - (Original Trailer) Criminal pathologists try to crack a case with nothing but the victim's bones as a lead in Mystery Street (1950).
Skipper Surprised His Wife, The - (Original Trailer) A captain (Robert Walker) tries to keep home as tight as his ship in The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950).
Ace in the Hole -- (Original Trailer) A small-town reporter (Kirk Douglas) milks a local disaster in Billy Wilder's cynical Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carniaval - 1951).

Family

William Allen Adriance
Father
Adams Douglas
Son
Born in October 1955.

Companions

John Merivale
Husband
Actor. Married in 1941; divorced in 1948.
Paul Douglas
Husband
Actor. Married from 1950 until his death in September 1959; father of her son Adams.
Sam Wanamaker
Companion
Actor. Had relationship from c. 1960 to the 1980s; remained married to his wife; died in 1997.

Bibliography

Notes

Some sources list 1923 as the year of Ms. Sterling's birth.