Hollywood and Broadway Star Janis Paige Dies at 101

Hollywood and Broadway Star Janis Paige Dies at 101

New York — Janis Paige, a celebrated actor in Hollywood and Broadway musicals and comedies, passed away at the age of 101. Known for dancing with Fred Astaire and touring with Bob Hope, Paige continued performing well into her 90s. Her longtime friend Stuart Lampert confirmed her death, stating she died of natural causes at her Los Angeles home on Sunday.

Paige’s illustrious career saw her star alongside Jackie Cooper in the Broadway mystery-comedy “Remains to be Seen” and John Raitt in the hit musical “The Pajama Game.” Her film credits include the Bob Hope comedy “Bachelor in Paradise,” the Doris Day comedy “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” and “Follow the Boys.”

In 2018, Paige publicly supported the #MeToo movement, recounting an assault she experienced at 22 by Alfred Bloomingdale, the late department-store heir. “I could feel his hands, not only on my breasts, but seemingly everywhere. He was big and strong, and I began to fight, kick, bite, and scream,” she wrote. “At 95, time is not on my side, and neither is silence. I simply want to add my name and say, ‘Me too.’”

Her big break came during wartime when she sang an operatic aria for servicemen at the Hollywood Canteen. MGM quickly hired her for a brief role in “Bathing Beauty,” but soon dropped her. Warner Bros. then signed her, starting her at $150 a week. “I earned more per week than my mother had made in a month during the Great Depression,” she recalled in a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Her salary eventually rose to $1,000 weekly as she starred in lighthearted films like “Two Guys from Milwaukee,” “The Time, the Place and the Girl,” “Love and Learn,” “Always Together,” “Wallflower,” and “Romance on the High Seas,” marking Doris Day’s film debut.

Paige changed her name from Donna May Tjaden, adopting her grandfather’s name, and took her first name from Elsie Janis, famed for entertaining troops in World War I. After her Warner Bros. contract expired in 1949, she transitioned to Broadway, where she starred in “Remains to Be Seen” and played Babe opposite John Raitt’s Sid in “The Pajama Game.” Doris Day later took her role in the film adaptation.

MGM producer Arthur Freed noticed her nightclub act at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and cast her in “Silk Stockings” alongside Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. The film is known for the Cole Porter number “Stereophonic Sound,” where Paige and Astaire spoofed new movie gimmicks. “I was one mass of bruises. I didn’t know how to fall. I didn’t know how to get down on a table — I didn’t know how to save myself because I was never a classic dancer,” she told the Miami Herald in 2016.

In May 2003, Paige returned to the stage with a show called “The Third Act” at San Francisco’s Plush Room, sharing stories about Astaire, Frank Sinatra, and others while singing tunes from her films and stage musicals. Reviewer Chad Jones noted that at 80, “the charming Paige shows a vitality, verve, and spirit that performers half her age would envy.”

Born in Tacoma, Washington, Paige faced early hardships. Her father deserted the family when she was 4, and her mother worked at the Bank of Tacoma to support them. “We always had enough to eat,” Paige told the Saturday Evening Post in 1963, “but nothing to spare. My mother worked so hard. And she used to keep saying that she wished I’d been born a boy, so I could help out more. I always wanted to be a success for her, to make up for my father.”

After leaving Warner Bros., Paige found success on television with roles in “It’s Always Jan,” “Flamingo Road,” “Santa Barbara,” “Eight Is Enough,” “Capitol,” “Fantasy Island,” and “Trapper Jon, M.D.” On “All in the Family,” she played a diner waitress involved with Archie Bunker.

Paige replaced Angela Lansbury in the New York production of “Mame” in 1968 and toured with the show in 1969. She also toured in “Gypsy,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Born Yesterday,” and “The Desk Set,” with her last Broadway appearance in 1984’s “Alone Together.”

She lent her glamour to Hope’s Christmas visits to Cuba and the Caribbean in 1960, Japan and South Korea in 1962, and Vietnam in 1964. Paige also performed in clubs with Sammy Davis Jr., Alan King, Dinah Shore, and Perry Como.

Her autobiography, “Reading Between the Lines: A Memoir,” was published in 2020, detailing her connections with Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, David Niven, Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, and Lucille Ball.

Paige had two brief marriages, first to San Francisco restaurateur Frank Martinelli and then to writer-producer Arthur Stander. In 1962, she married songwriter Ray Gilbert, known for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da” from Disney’s “Song of the South.” After his death in 1976, Paige managed his music company.

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Pooja Chauhan

Pooja Chauhan: Your Source for Entertainment and Box Office News Pooja Chauhan is a passionate writer and dedicated journalist specializing in delivering the latest updates and insights from the world of entertainment and box office. With a keen eye for detail and a deep love for cinema, Pooja brings her readers accurate and engaging coverage of all things related to movies, celebrities, and the dynamic world of showbiz. Her commitment to keeping her audience well-informed and entertained makes her a valuable voice in the realm of entertainment journalism. When she's not busy uncovering the latest scoops, Pooja enjoys exploring classic films and indulging in creative writing." Contact us: admin@bollywoodfever.co.in

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