Gloria Jean

Actor, Singer, Receptionist
Groomed by Universal Pictures as a potential successor to Deanna Durbin, Gloria Jean never did supplant the better-known singing starlet in the hearts of moviegoers during World War II, but enjoyed a star ascendancy all ... Read more »
Born: 04/14/1926 in Buffalo, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (6)

W.C. Fields Straight Up 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

If I Had My Way 1939 (Movie)

(Actor)

Copacabana (Movie)

Anne (Actor)

Ghost Catchers (Movie)

Melinda (Actor)

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (Movie)

His Niece (Actor)

Universal Horror (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Groomed by Universal Pictures as a potential successor to Deanna Durbin, Gloria Jean never did supplant the better-known singing starlet in the hearts of moviegoers during World War II, but enjoyed a star ascendancy all her own. Pennsylvania's own Baby Skylark had been selected by producer Joe Pasternak to star in Universal's summer musical "The Under-Pup" (1939) and audiences immediately warmed to the 11-year-old newcomer, whose lilting soprano voice was offset by a refreshingly middle-class demeanor. Often cast as an underprivileged youth at odds with her societal betters, Jean sailed through a string of wartime songfests aimed at lifting homefront morale, teaming with hoofer Donald O'Conner for "What's Cookin'" (1942) and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1943), and with jazz drummer Mel Tormé for "Pardon My Rhythm" (1944). As she edged towards the edge of consent, Jean's status as Shirley Temple-style Li'l Miss Fixit declined and the studio shoehorned her into vehicles largely unworthy of her talents, including the Olsen and Johnson farce "Ghost Catchers" (1944) and the dockside crime drama "The River Gang" (1945). Unable to regain her celebrity footing on the big screen or in the burgeoning medium of television, Jean quit showbiz to help found Redken Cosmetics, where she remained for 30 years. Retired to Hawaii in 2007, Jean seemed at peace with her legacy as a Hollywood also-ran, albeit one who did more than her share to lift American spirits during the dark days of the Second World War.

Relationships

Angelo

Son

Franco Cellini

Husband

Lois Schoonover

Sister
worked as stand-in for sister died in 1985

Milestones

1963

Final feature "The Madcaps"

1961

Hired by Jerry Lewis for "The Ladies Man"

1950

Went blonde for role in "There's a Girl in My Heart"

1947

Appeared in "Copacabana" with Groucho Marx and Carmen Miranda

1944

Last film for Universal "EAsy to Look At"

1944

Toured the USA as a singer

1943

Featured in the all-star "Follow the Boys"

1943

First "adult" role, "Reckless Age"

1943

Had first dramatic part in "Destiny", playing a blind woman

1940

Appeared with W C Fields in "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break"

1940

Starred in "A Little Bit of Heaven", a sequel to her film debut

1939

Feature debut in the musical "The Under-Pup"

1939

Put under contract by Universal

1938

Went to NYC to audition for an opera production; also auditioned for movie producer Joseph Pasternak

1929

Began taking singing lessons (date approximate)

Raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Went to work at a cosmetics firm

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