Muir, Jean (1911–1996)

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Muir, Jean (1911–1996)

American actress. Born Jean Muir Fullarton on February 13, 1911, in New York City; died at a nursing home in Mesa, Arizona, on September 23, 1996.

Selected filmography:

The World Changes (1933); Son of a Sailor (1933); Bedside (1934); As the Earth Turns (1934); A Modern Hero (1934); Dr. Monica (1934); Desirable (1934); Gentlemen Are Born (1934); Female (1934); The White Cockatoo (1935); Oil for the Lamps of China (1935); Orchids for You (1935); A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935); Stars Over Broadway (1935); White Fang (1936); Fugitive in the Sky (1936); Once a Doctor (1937); Her Husband's Secretary (1937); Draegerman Courage (1937); The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1937); White Bondage (1937); Dance Charlie Dance (1937); And One Was Beautiful (1940); The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (1940); The Constant Nymph (1941).

A stately blonde, Jean Muir began her career on the Broadway stage in 1930, and was offered a contract with Warner Bros. on the strength of her performance in the play Saint Wench (1933). Muir's talent, however, far exceeded what the studio could offer in the way of roles, and from the late 1930s she concentrated on her stage career.

While playing the role of the mother on "The Aldrich Family" television series in 1950, Muir was named as a Communist sympathizer by the infamous Red Channels newsletter, a publication that listed suspected or rumored Communists and Communist sympathizers. Readers of Red Channels bombarded the network and the sponsor with angry phone calls and letters. As a result, Muir lost her job and was blacklisted, but the dismissal brought widespread attention to the industry's practice of ostracization. Muir denied the charges: "I am not a Communist, have never been one, and believe that the Communists represent a vicious and destructive force, and I am opposed to them." Even so, General Foods, the sponsor of the show, issued a press release stating that although it had no idea if the accusations were true, it had to dismiss Muir because she was now a controversial figure.

The ordeal took its emotional toll, and Muir suffered a long bout of alcoholism. She eventually survived her career crisis, however, and returned to Broadway and television during the 1960s. In 1968, she moved to Columbia, Missouri, taking a teaching position in the drama department at Stephens College.

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