The Anne Jeffreys Centennial

Born 100 years ago today, the minor midcentury star Anne Jeffreys (Anne Jeffreys Carmichael, 1923-2017).

Jeffreys was an operatically trained Southern belle from Goldsboro, North Carolina, who began her career as a teenager, both as a Powers model and as a singer with the New York Municipal Opera Company. Clearly both beautiful and talented, she was only 19 when snatched up by Hollywood, where her initial burst of activity lasted about half a dozen years, mostly at RKO and Republic. She played Tess in the Dick Tracy films, and was in such comedies and musicals as I Married an Angel (1942) with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald; Joan of Ozark (1942) with Judy Canova, Joe E. Brown, and Eddie Foy Jr; The Old Homestead (1942) with the Weaver Brothers and Elviry and Jed Prouty; Chatterbox (1943) with Judy Canova and Joe E. Brown again; Zombies On Broadway (1945) with Alan Carney and Wally Brown; Those Endearing Young Charms (1945) with Robert Young and Laraine Day; Sing Your Way Home (1945) with Jack Haley; Ding Dong Williams (1946) with Glen Vernon; Genius at Work (1946) with Brown and Carney; and Vacation in Reno (1946) with Brown, Carney and Haley. She was also the leading leady in seveal Wild Bill Elliott westerns, and worked opposite Randolph Scott in Trail Street (1947) and Return of the Bad Men (1948).

Tiring of the B movie milieu that was her apparent lot, Jeffreys spent the next few years starring on Broadway, in the musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s Street Scene; the Rowland Leigh-Sigmund Romberg show My Romance (1948-49), and the original production of Kiss Me Kate (1050-51), replacing Patricia Morrison as the title character. In 1951 she married actor/performer Robert Sterling, and the pair toured for a couple of years with a successful night club act. This led to them being cast as the stars in the TV sitcom version of the screwball classic Topper (1953-55) and then later in a less successful sitcom Love That Jill (1958). For the balance of her long career, TV would be her principal mainstay, where she guested on such shows as Wagon Train, Bonanza, My Three Sons, Love American Style, and Fantasy Island. She was a member of the cast of General Hospital for 20 years (1984-2004), co-starred on the series Finder of Lost Loves (1984-85), and had recurring roles on Falcon Crest, Baywatch, and Port Charles. Throughout these years, she also starred in touring and regional productions of musicals, and got parts in the occasional film, such as Boys Night Out (1962), Panic in the City (1968), Southern Double Cross (1976), the famously bizarre Martin ShortCharles Grodin comedy Clifford (1994) and the all-star Empire State Building Murders (2008). Her final screen credit was on the show Getting On (2013) with Laurie Metcalf and Alex Borstein.

Jeffreys was approaching her 95th birthday at the time of her passing.

For more on show biz history please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.