Jean Arthur


Actor
Jean Arthur

About

Also Known As
Gladys Georgianna Greene
Birth Place
Plattsburgh, New York, USA
Born
October 17, 1900
Died
June 19, 1991
Cause of Death
Heart Ailment

Biography

After a brief time on the New York stage, Jean Arthur made her feature film debut in John Ford's "Cameo Kirby" (1923) and appeared as an ingenue in numerous low-budget silent westerns and comedy shorts. Arthur's smooth transition to sound was aided by her nasal voice, sometimes sexy, other times squeaky, and she won immense popularity in John Ford's "The Whole Town's Talking" (1935). A d...

Photos & Videos

A Foreign Affair - Publicity Art
A Foreign Affair - Publicity Stills
A Foreign Affair - Pressbook

Family & Companions

Julian Anker
Husband
Photographer. Married 1928; divorced.
David O Selznick
Companion
Producer.
Frank Ross
Husband
Singer, producer. Married in 1932; divorced in 1949.

Bibliography

"Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knows"
John Oller, Limelight Editions (1997)
"Jean Arthur: A Bio-Bibliography"
Arthur Pierce and Douglas Swarthout, Greenwood Press (1990)

Notes

"Never have I seen a performer plagued with such a chronic case of stage jitters . . . When the cameras stopped she'd run to her dressing room, lock herself in--and cry. . . . When called for another scene she would come out looking like a mop; walk aimlessly around muttering a torrent of non-sequitur excuses for not being ready. And it wasn't an act. Those weren't butterflies in her stomach. They were wasps. But push that neurotic girl forcibly, but gently, in front of the camera and turn on the lights--and that whining mop would magically blossom into a warm, lovely poised and confident actress." --Frank Capra in his memoir "The Name Above the Title"

"I guess I became an actress because I didn't want to be myself." --Jean Arthur in 1972, quoted in The New York Times, obituary, June 20, 1991.

Biography

After a brief time on the New York stage, Jean Arthur made her feature film debut in John Ford's "Cameo Kirby" (1923) and appeared as an ingenue in numerous low-budget silent westerns and comedy shorts. Arthur's smooth transition to sound was aided by her nasal voice, sometimes sexy, other times squeaky, and she won immense popularity in John Ford's "The Whole Town's Talking" (1935). A deft comedienne and prickly, sometimes tomboyish heroine, she hit her peak post-1935 playing a string of down-to-earth, independent types, often working women, and costarring in three celebrated Frank Capra films: "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" (1936), "You Can't Take It with You" (1938) and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939).

With her increased prestige, Arthur chose her later roles wisely, her last decade of work including Billy Wilder's superior romantic comedy "A Foreign Affair" (1948) and the George Stevens classics "The Talk of the Town" (1942), "The More the Merrier" (1943) and "Shane" (1953). The latter was her final film, made after a five year absence from the screen. Her acting work from the 1950s on was intermittent, somewhat curtailed by Arthur's longstanding shyness and discomfort about her chosen profession. She did occasional stage work (such as a charming turn as "Peter Pan"), a try at a TV series (the short-lived "The Jean Arthur Show" 1966), and much time teaching acting at the university level.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Shane (1953)
Marian Starrett
A Foreign Affair (1948)
Phoebe Frost
The Impatient Years (1944)
Janie Anderson
A Lady Takes a Chance (1943)
Mollie J. Truesdale
The More the Merrier (1943)
Connie Milligan
The Talk of the Town (1942)
Nora Shelley
The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)
Mary [Jones]
Arizona (1940)
Phoebe Titus
Too Many Husbands (1940)
Vicky [Cardew] Lowndes
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
[Clarissa] Saunders
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Bonnie Lee
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
Alice Sycamore
Easy Living (1937)
Mary Smith
The Plainsman (1937)
Calamity Jane
History Is Made at Night (1937)
Irene Vail
More Than a Secretary (1936)
Carol Baldwin
Adventure in Manhattan (1936)
Claire Peyton
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
[Louise] Babe Bennett [also known as Mary Dawson]
The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)
Paula Bradford
The Public Menace (1935)
Cassie
Party Wire (1935)
Marge Oliver
The Whole Town's Talking (1935)
Miss [Wilhemina "Bill"] Clark
Diamond Jim (1935)
Jane Mathews/[Emma Perry]
Public Hero No. 1 (1935)
[Maria] Theresa [O'Reilly]
If You Could Only Cook (1935)
Joan Hawthorne
Most Precious Thing in Life (1934)
Ellen [Holmes, also known as Biddy and Babe]
The Defense Rests (1934)
Joan Hayes
Whirlpool (1934)
Sandra [Morrison]
The Past of Mary Holmes (1933)
Joan Hoyt
Get That Venus (1933)
Margaret Rendleby
The Virtuous Husband (1931)
Barbara Olwell
The Gang Buster (1931)
Sylvia Martine
Ex-Bad Boy (1931)
Ethel Simmons
The Lawyer's Secret (1931)
Beatrice Stevens
Paramount on Parade (1930)
The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu (1930)
Lia Eltham
Danger Lights (1930)
Mary Ryan
Young Eagles (1930)
Mary Gordon
Street of Chance (1930)
Judith Marsden
The Silver Horde (1930)
Mildred Wayland
Galas de la Paramount (1930)
The Canary Murder Case (1929)
Alys La Fosse
The Greene Murder Case (1929)
Ada Greene
The Saturday Night Kid (1929)
Janie
The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu (1929)
Lia Eltham
Half-way to Heaven (1929)
Greta Nelson
Stairs of Sand (1929)
Ruth Hutt
Wallflowers (1928)
Sandra
Sins of the Fathers (1928)
Mary Spengler
Brotherly Love (1928)
Mary
Warming Up (1928)
Mary Post
The Poor Nut (1927)
Margie
Husband Hunters (1927)
Letty Crane
The Broken Gate (1927)
Ruth Hale
Flying Luck (1927)
The girl
Horse Shoes (1927)
His daughter
The Masked Menace (1927)
Double Daring (1926)
Marie Wells, the banker's daughter
The College Boob (1926)
Angela Boothby
The Block Signal (1926)
Grace Ryan
Under Fire (1926)
The Cowboy Cop (1926)
Virginia Selby
The Fighting Cheat (1926)
Ruth Wells
Twisted Triggers (1926)
Ruth Regan
Lightning Bill (1926)
Marie Denton
Born To Battle (1926)
Eunice Morgan
Seven Chances (1925)
Drug Store Cowboy (1925)
Jean
The Fighting Smile (1925)
Rose Craddock
A Man of Nerve (1925)
Loria Gatlin
Hurricane Horseman (1925)
June Mathews
Tearin' Loose (1925)
Sally Harris
Thundering Through (1925)
Ruth Burroughs
Bringin' Home the Bacon (1924)
Nancy Norton
Fast and Fearless (1924)
Mary Brown
Thundering Romance (1924)
Mary Watkins
Travelin' Fast (1924)
Betty Conway
Biff Bang Buddy (1924)
Bonnie Norton
Cameo Kirby (1923)
Ann Playdell

Cast (Special)

George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984)
Herself

Misc. Crew (Special)

George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984)
Other

Life Events

1923

Screen debut in short, "Somebody Lied"

1923

Feature film debut in John Ford's "Cameo Kirby"

1928

First leading film role in "Warming Up"

1932

Dissatisfied with Hollywood career, returned to NY stage

1934

Signed with Columbia Pictures and re-launched career

1939

Last film with Capra, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

1942

First film with director George Stevens, "The Talk of the Town"

1944

Last film for four years, "The Impatient Years"

1948

Returned to films to play a starring role opposite Marlene Dietrich and John Lund in Billy Wilder's "A Foreign Affair"

1950

Returned to Broadway in Leonard Bernstein's "Peter Pan"

1953

Again returned to films to star in her last, George Stevens' western "Shane", opposite Van Heflin and Alan Ladd

1966

Starred as a lawyer on short-lived TV series, "The Jean Arthur Show"

1985

Appeared as herself in the feature documentary, "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey"

Photo Collections

A Foreign Affair - Publicity Art
A Foreign Affair - Publicity Art
A Foreign Affair - Publicity Stills
A Foreign Affair - Publicity Stills
A Foreign Affair - Pressbook
A Foreign Affair - Pressbook
Adventure in Manhattan - Scene Stills
Adventure in Manhattan - Scene Stills
A Foreign Affair - Lobby Cards
A Foreign Affair - Lobby Cards
Adventure in Manhattan - Publicity Stills
Adventure in Manhattan - Publicity Stills
A Foreign Affair - Scene Stills
A Foreign Affair - Scene Stills
A Foreign Affair - Movie Posters
A Foreign Affair - Movie Posters
Only Angels Have Wings - Movie Posters
Only Angels Have Wings - Movie Posters
More Than a Secretary - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Columbia's More Than a Secretary (1936), starring Jean Arthur and George Brent. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Whirlpool - Movie Poster
Whirlpool - Movie Poster
The Impatient Years - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from Columbia Pictures' The Impatient Years (1944). 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.
More Than a Secretary - Jumbo Lobby Cards
More Than a Secretary - Jumbo Lobby Cards
Only Angels Have Wings - Lobby Cards
Only Angels Have Wings - Lobby Cards
More Than a Secretary - Lobby Card
More Than a Secretary - Lobby Card
The Defense Rests - Lobby Cards
The Defense Rests - Lobby Cards
Only Angels Have Wings - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Only Angels Have Wings - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Impatient Years - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Impatient Years - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
More Than a Secretary - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
More Than a Secretary - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Most Precious Thing in Life - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Most Precious Thing in Life - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
A Foreign Affair - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
A Foreign Affair - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Devil and Miss Jones - Lobby Cards
The Devil and Miss Jones - Lobby Cards
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - Movie Posters
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - Movie Posters
The Talk of the Town - Lobby Cards
The Talk of the Town - Lobby Cards
Easy Living - Publicity Still
Easy Living - Publicity Still
Too Many Husbands - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Columbia's Too Many Husbands (1940), starring Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray, and Melvyn Douglas. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Devil and Miss Jones - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for RKO's The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), starring Jean Arthur. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - Title Lobby Card
Here is the Title Lobby Card from Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). 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.
You Can't Take It with You - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Frank Capra's You Can't Take It with You (1938). 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.
Adventure In Manhattan - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Adventure in Manhattan (1936). 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.
Adventure in Manhattan - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Columbia Pictures' Adventure in Manhattan (1936), starring Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea.
The Public Menace - Lobby Card
Here is a lobby card from Columbia Pictures' The Public Menace (1935), starring Jean Arthur and George Murphy.
The Public Menace - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of The Public Menace (1935), starring Jean Arthur and George Murphy.

Videos

Movie Clip

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) - Bonnie From Brooklyn Pilots Joe (Noah Beery Jr.) and Les (Allyn Joslyn) are impressed with the pretty blonde Bonnie (Jean Arthur) who gets off the boat in fictional Latin American "Barranca" in an early scene from Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings, 1939.
Arizona (1940) - No Serenadin' Feisty Phoebe (Jean Arthur) expressing her intention to make something of her enterprise in Tucson despite rampant corruption, as the judge (Edgar Buchanan) sentences Joe (Earl Crawford) and drifter Muncie (William Holden) steers clear, in Arizona, 1940.
Arizona (1940) - Do What The Lady Says Tough Phoebe Titus (Jean Arthur), known to be the only woman in the territory, demands some justice from Ward (Porter Hall) and his men Timmins and Longstreet (Sid Saylor and Wade Crosby), with an assist from new-in-town Muncie (William Holden) in Wesley Ruggles' Arizona, 1940.
Whole Town's Talking, The (1935) - I've Got A Stamp From Shanghai Lowly ad-clerk Jones (Edward G. Robinson), fazed because he’s the look-alike of the major gangster identified in that day’s newspaper, is noticed in the cafe by Hoyt (Donald Meek), then joined by just-fired colleague “Bill” Clark (Jean Arthur), with whom he’s secretly smitten, trouble ensuing, in John Ford’s The Whole Town’s Talking, 1935.
Whole Town's Talking, The - Open, Fire Jones! Opening credits and the anxious under-boss Seaver (Etienne Girardot) sucking up to "J-G" (Paul Harvey) in John Ford's comedy The Whole Town's Talking, 1935, starring Edward G. Robinson and Jean Arthur.
Talk Of The Town, The (1942) - Such Monumental Inefficiency Law professor Lightcap (Ronald Colman) expresses his displeasure with his reception then dismisses his new landlord Nora (Jean Arthur), whom he still doesn't know has escaped accused killer Dilg (Cary Grant) hidden upstairs, in George Stevens' The Talk Of The Town, 1942.
Talk of the Town, The (1942) - That's The Gardener, Joseph Escaped convict Dilg (Cary Grant) reveals himself to vacationing Professor Lightcap (Ronald Colman) but is rescued by landlord Nora (Jean Arthur) who announces that he's only Joseph, the gardener, in George Stevens' The Talk of the Town, 1942.
You Can't Take It With You (1938) - My Father Makes Fireworks Taxman Henderson (Charles Lane) and Grandpa Sycamore (Lionel Barrymore) lead off this mayhem as Tony (James Stewart) collects Alice (Jean Arthur) for a date. with Ann Miller, Spring Byington, Dub Taylor, and Mischa Auer, in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It with You, 1938.
More Than A Secretary - Stimulates The Liver Secretarial school owner Carol (Jean Arthur), working incognito at "Body And Brain" magazine, with fitness chief Ernest (Lionel Stander) and boss Fred (George Brent), in More Than A Secretary, 1936.
Ex-Mrs. Bradford, The - My Assistants Just Resigned Reluctant Doctor Bradford (William Powell) brings snoopy former wife Paula (Jean Arthur) and aide Stokes (Eric Blore) to the morgue, later getting a call from horse trainer North (Frank Thomas), then more surprises, in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, 1936.
Plainsman, The (1936) - Has She Tamed You Yet? We haven’t learned the name yet of Gary Cooper, in St. Louis with a kid (George Ernest), whom he’s shown his watch-case photo of Jean Arthur, and told tales about Buffalo Bill (James Ellison), whom we soon learn is his pal, with his new wife (Helen Burgess), and we meet McCall (Porter Hall), C.B. DeMille at the helm, early in The Plainsman, 1936.
Plainsman, The (1936) - That's Just What I Told Custer Buffalo Bill Cody (James Ellison) and wife (Helen Burgess), who plan to open a hotel, in Kansas with new friend Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur) when her erstwhile boyfriend Wild Bill Hickock (Gary Cooper) appears, making a case on behalf of General Custer, and planning his own risky mission, in C.B. DeMille’s The Plainsman, 1936.

Trailer

Promo

Companions

Julian Anker
Husband
Photographer. Married 1928; divorced.
David O Selznick
Companion
Producer.
Frank Ross
Husband
Singer, producer. Married in 1932; divorced in 1949.

Bibliography

"Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knows"
John Oller, Limelight Editions (1997)
"Jean Arthur: A Bio-Bibliography"
Arthur Pierce and Douglas Swarthout, Greenwood Press (1990)

Notes

"Never have I seen a performer plagued with such a chronic case of stage jitters . . . When the cameras stopped she'd run to her dressing room, lock herself in--and cry. . . . When called for another scene she would come out looking like a mop; walk aimlessly around muttering a torrent of non-sequitur excuses for not being ready. And it wasn't an act. Those weren't butterflies in her stomach. They were wasps. But push that neurotic girl forcibly, but gently, in front of the camera and turn on the lights--and that whining mop would magically blossom into a warm, lovely poised and confident actress." --Frank Capra in his memoir "The Name Above the Title"

"I guess I became an actress because I didn't want to be myself." --Jean Arthur in 1972, quoted in The New York Times, obituary, June 20, 1991.

"When pressed by Hollywood to choose a stage name, she selected one honoring two idols: Jeanne d'Arc and King Arthur." --Peter B Flint in Arthur's The New York Times obituary, June 20, 1991.