Meadows, Jayne (1920—)

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Meadows, Jayne (1920—)

Stage and screen personality of the 1950s . Name variations: Jane Cotter; changed stage name to Jayne Meadows (c. 1946). Born in 1920 in Wuchang, China; daughter of Francis James Meadows Cotter (a missionary and minister) and Ida Taylor Cotter; sister of Audrey Meadows (c. 1922–1996); married Milton Krims (divorced); married Steve Allen (an actor and comic), on July 31, 1954; children: (second marriage) William Christopher Allen.

Selected stage roles:

Spring Again (1942); Another Love Story (1943); Kiss Them for Me (1945).

Selected film roles:

Undercurrent (1946); Lady in the Lake (1947); Song of the Thin Man (1947); The Luck of the Irish (1948); Enchantment (1949); David and Bathsheba (1951).

Selected television appearances:

I've Got a Secret (c. 1952–58); "The Drop of a Hat," Studio One (May 7, 1956); General Motors Motorama (1956); High Society (1996).

Born Jane Cotter in 1920 in China, where her father was a missionary, Jayne Meadows was a popular actress on stage, film, radio and television in the 1940s and 1950s. She is also known as the sister of Audrey Meadows , who played Alice Kramden on "The Honeymooners," and as the wife of actor and comic Steve Allen. Meadows grew up in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, after her family returned to the United States. She attended private schools, and exhibited a flair for the stage at a young age; by her early 20s, she and her sister were living in New York City and auditioning for roles on Broadway.

Meadows' first stage role came in January 1942, when she was cast in Spring Again. She also appeared in Another Love Story (1943) and Kiss Them for Me (1945) before deciding to change her last name from Cotter and try her luck in Hollywood. Her first screen role was in Undercurrent (1946); parts in Lady in the Lake and Song of the Thin Man (both 1947) and The Luck of the Irish (1948) followed, but it was with her role as a manipulative foster sister in the 1949 film Enchantment that she made a name for herself. Two years later, she won praise for her supporting role in the Biblical drama David and Bathsheba.

In 1952, Jayne Meadows began appearing regularly on television, and, with her husband Steve Allen, whom she wed in 1954, became one of the medium's first big names (Allen was the inaugural host of the first version of NBC's "The Tonight Show"). Meadows was a panelist on the popular quiz show "I've Got a Secret" from 1952 to 1958, and with Allen appeared on the television program "Danger" as well as in skits called "The Psychiatrist" on "The Tonight Show." She also acted in a number of playhouse series, among them "Studio One" and "General Motors Motorama." In the mid-1950s, she recorded several songs with her sister Audrey, including "Hot Potato Mambo" and "Dungaree Dan and Chino Sue."


Current Biography. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1958.

Ragan, David. Who's Who in Hollywood. NY: Facts on File, 1992.

Carol Brennan , Grosse Pointe, Michigan

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Meadows, Jayne (1920—)

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