Janet Blair (April 23, 1921 â" February 19, 2007) was a big band singer who went on to become a popular American film and television actress.
Born Martha Jane Lafferty in Altoona, Pennsylvania (she took her acting surname from Blair County, Pennsylvania), Blair was the daughter of musically oriented parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred B. Lafferty. Her father led the choir and sang solos in his church, and her mother played both piano and organ.
She began her acting career on film in 1941, being placed under contract to Columbia Pictures. Before that, she was a featured singer in the Hal Kemp Orchestra. During World War II she appeared as the pin-up girl in the March 1944 issue of Yank Magazine. She made a string of successful pictures, although she is today best remembered for playing Rosalind Russell's sister in My Sister Eileen (1942) and Rita Hayworth's best friend in Tonight and Every Night (1945). In the late 1940s, she was dropped by Columbia and did not return to pictures for several years.
Instead, in 1950 she took the lead role of Nellie Forbush in the U.S touring production of the stage musical South Pacific, making more than 1,200 performances in three years. "[I] never missed a performance", she noted proudly. During the tour, she also got married to second husband, producer-director Nick Mayo, and they became parents of Amanda and Andrew.
Janet was a star musical performer in premiere nightclubs and supper clubs like the Empire Room at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
She appeared on television on various variety shows and hosted, with John Blair, the Dinah Shore Chevy Show as a summer replacement for Dinah Shore. She was a cast member during the 1950s in Caesar's Hour, a TV comedy-variety series starring Sid Caesar.
In 1942, Blair costarred with George Raft in "Broadway," an episode of Lux Radio Theatre on CBS.
She recorded an album of standards entitled Flame Out! for the Dico label which included ballads like "Don't Explain" and "Then You've Never Been Blue".
She made a rare dramatic appearance in the 1962 British horror film Night of the Eagle. In 1971 Janet co-starred with Henry Fonda in "The Smith Family", a comedy-drama on ABC. Her last performance on television was in a 1991 episode of Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury.
Blair was married twice. Her first marriage was to musical arranger and conductor Louis Ferdinand Busch from 1943 to March 1950. She married television producer Nick Mayo in 1952 with whom she had two children: Andrew and Amanda. They divorced in 1971.
On February 19, 2007, Blair died of complications from pneumonia, aged 85, at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
- Three Girls About Town (1941)
- Blondie Goes to College (1942)
- Two Yanks in Trinidad (1942)
- Broadway (1942)
- My Sister Eileen (1942)
- Something to Shout About (1943)
- Once Upon a Time (1944)
- Tonight and Every Night (1945)
- Tars and Spars (1946)
- Gallant Journey (1946)
- The Fabulous Dorseys (1947)
- I Love Trouble (1948)
- The Fuller Brush Man (1948)
- The Black Arrow (1948)
- Public Pigeon No. 1 (1957)
- Night of the Eagle (US: Burn, Witch, Burn, 1962)
- Boys' Night Out (1962)
- The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968)
- Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
- The Ford Theatre Hour (1948)
- The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre (1949)
- The Philco Television Playhouse (1949)
- Armstrong Circle Theatre (1954)
- The Elgin Hour (1954)
- The United States Steel Hour (1954)
- A Connecticut Yankee (1955, TV)
- Goodyear Television Playhouse (1955)
- Lux Video Theatre (1955)
- Climax! (1955)
- Front Row Center (1955)
- One Touch of Venus (1955, TV)
- Ford Television Theatre (1956)
- Screen Directors Playhouse (1956)
- Caesar's Hour (1956â"1957)
- Alcoa Theatre (1958)
- Around the World with Nellie Bly (1960 TV movie)
- The Chevy Mystery Show (1960)
- Shirley Temple's Storybook (1960)
- The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (1960â"1961)
- The Outer Limits (1963)
- Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1964)
- Destry (1964)
- Burke's Law (1963â"1964)
- Ben Casey (1966)
- Marcus Welby, M.D. (1970â"1973)
- The Smith Family (1971â"1972)
- Switch (1977)
- Fantasy Island (1980)
- The Love Boat (1982)
- Murder, She Wrote (1991)
- Flame Out (1959, Dico)
- ^ a b "Road Wasn't Difficult For Janet Blair". Waco Tribune. December 7, 1952. p.Â 54. Retrieved April 19, 2015 â" via Newspapers.com.Â
- ^ a b "Janet Blair Is Given Surprise Welcome Home". Altoona Tribune. January 7, 1947. p.Â 1. Retrieved April 19, 2015 â" via Newspapers.com.Â
- ^ "Drama Heads WHP Bill". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 19, 1942. p.Â 20. Retrieved April 19, 2015 â" via Newspapers.com.Â
- ^ "Movie Divorce Crop Is Large". The Spokesman-Review. January 2, 1951. p.Â 2. Retrieved April 22, 2013.Â
- ^ "Children Watch As Parents Are Wed". Kentucky New Era. October 19, 1963. p.Â 12. Retrieved April 22, 2013.Â
- ^ Pearson, Howard. "Laudable Ambition". The Deseret News. p.Â B8. Retrieved April 22, 2013.Â
- ^ "Stage, Screen and TV Star Janet Blair Dies at 86 Read more about Stage, Screen and TV Star Janet Blair Dies at 86". broadwayworld.com. February 21, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2013.Â
- Oderman, Stuart, Talking to the Piano Player 2. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN1-59393-320-7.
- Janet Blair at the Internet Movie Database
- Janet Blair at AllMovie
- Daily Telegraph obituary
- Photos of Janet Blair in Columbia Pictures 1940's films by Ned Scott