Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Jan Sterling, dead at 82

Man...I just learned via an Old-Time Radio Digest post from Kermyt Anderson that one of my favorite actresses, Jan Sterling, has passed on. (By the way, there's an excellent website dedicated to her and maintained by her son Adams Douglas, whose father was Paul Douglas, actor and one-time OTR announcer.)

Where to start? She made appearances in some of my favorite noirs: Caged (1950, as "Smoochie"), Union Station (1950), Appointment With Danger (1951) and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957). She was great alongside Kirk Douglas in the classic Billy Wilder film Ace in the Hole (1951) (why, oh why won't someone release this to DVD?) and she gives a very nicely understated performance as Humphrey Bogart's wife in Bogey's last hurrah, The Harder They Fall (1956).

She was also in a few of what I like to call my guilty pleasures: Split Second (1953, a great Dick Powell-directed B-pic about a group of people trapped in a ghost town that's due to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb test), Women's Prison (1955)--with a cast that includes Ida Lupino (as a waaaaay over-the-top prison warden), Cleo Moore, Audrey Totter, Phyllis Thaxter and Ida's hubby Howard Duff, and of course, High School Confidential (1958).

The last movie I saw her in was the 1981 comedy First Monday in October (1981), which wasn't all that great, but it did have Walter Matthau in it, and if memory serves me correct, she played his wife. Again, another quiet but effective performance.

R.I.P, Jan -- you will be so missed.

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