Jan Miner: Soaking In It

Before we get to the best known acting credit of Jan Miner (1917-2004), I think it advisable to paint a broader picture of the complete artist. A Boston native, Miner studied with Lee Strasberg, and worked constantly on radio from the late 1940s through the 1950s as a regular on such shows as Perry Mason; Boston Blackie; Hilltop House, Radio City Playhouse; and Casey, Crime Phtotographer. She also had a dozen Broadway credits including productions of Othello (1970), The Women (1973), The Heiress (1976), Romeo and Juliet (1977), Watch on the Rhine (1980) and Heartbreak House (1984), as well as Terrence McNally’s adaptation of The Lady of the Camellias (1963).

She’s only in a handful of movies, but they’re all pretty well known and she is recognizable and terrific in them: The Swimmer (1968) with Burt Lancaster, Bob Fosse’s Lenny (1974, as Lenny Bruce’s mom), Paul Mazursky’s Willie and Phil (1980), Franco Zeffirelli’s Endless Love (1981), and Mermaids (1990). On TV she had worked on anthology shows like Robert Montgomery Presents since the early ’50s, and was a regular on Paul Sand’s sitcom Friends and Lovers (1974). Like every actor on earth, she’s in an episode of Law and Order. In 1986 she co-starred with Marian Seldes in the play Gertrude Stein and a Companion at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, which was later filmed as a Bravo TV movie in 1987.

Pretty cool resume, right? Not too shabby. There are some pretty prestigious credits in there. But what is she best known for?

From 1966 to 1992, she was Madge in Palmolive commercials. And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.