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Jeanne Crain: Lighthearted Movies vs. Real Life Tragedies

Jeanne Crain: Lighthearted movies vs. real life tragedies

(See previous post: “Jeanne Crain: From ‘Pinky’ Inanity to ‘Margie’ Magic.”) Unlike her characters in Margie, Home in Indiana, State Fair, Centennial Summer, The Fan, and Cheaper by the Dozen (and its sequel, Belles on Their Toes), or even in the more complex A Letter to Three Wives and People Will Talk, Jeanne Crain didn’t find a romantic Happy Ending in real life. In the mid-’50s, Crain accused her husband, former minor actor Paul Brooks a.k.a. Paul Brinkman, of infidelity, of living off her earnings, and of brutally beating her. The couple reportedly were never divorced because of their Catholic faith. (And at least in the 1960s, unlike the humanistic, progressive-thinking Margie, Crain was a “conservative” Republican who supported Richard Nixon.) In the early ’90s, she lost two of her seven children: one was a chronic alcoholic; the other died from a heroin overdose.

As she grew older, Crain, her beautiful figure long gone, developed a severe and debilitating alcohol problem. Two months after the death of Paul Brooks, who had become a successful businessman and manufacturer of missile parts, Jeanne Crain suffered a fatal heart attack at age 78 in December 2003 in Santa Barbara, California.

Jeanne Crain: Fantasy and Reality

Unlike the mentally ill out there, I’m fully aware that real life and movie life are quite distinct. Having said that, watching Margie I find it impossible not to believe that the young Jeanne Crain could have been anything but very much like that shy, hopeful, warm-hearted, somewhat clumsy youth who, however bloomer-less, finds love and ever-lasting happiness with a handsome and caring Prince Charming.

Hollywood fantasy or not, Margie is not to be missed. That movie is proof that Jeanne Crain was and remains one of the loveliest actresses ever to have graced the screen.

Jeanne Crain movies: TCM schedule on August 25, 2013

3:00 AM THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (1956). Director: Russell Rouse. Cast: Glenn Ford, Jeanne Crain, Broderick Crawford, Russ Tamblyn, Allyn Joslyn, Leif Erickson, John Dehner, Noah Beery Jr., J.M. Kerrigan, Rhys Williams, Virginia Gregg, Chubby Johnson, John Doucette, William ‘Bill’ Phillips, Christopher Olsen a.k.a. Chris Olsen, Paul Birch, Florenz Ames, Joseph Sweeney, Louis Jean Heydt, Mitchell, Lewis, Addison Richards, Glenn Strange, Dub Taylor. Black and white. 89 mins. Letterbox Format.

4:45 AM GUNS OF THE TIMBERLAND (1960). Director: Robert D. Webb. Cast: Alan Ladd, Jeanne Crain, Gilbert Roland, Frankie Avalon, Lyle Bettger, Noah Beery Jr., Verna Felton, Alana Ladd, Regis Toomey, Johnny Seven, Paul E. Burns, Henry Kulky, George Selk. Color. 91 mins. Letterbox Format.

6:30 AM TWENTY PLUS TWO (1961). Director: Joseph M. Newman. Cast: David Janssen, Jeanne Crain, Dina Merrill. Black and white. 103 mins. Letterbox Format.

8:15 AM MARGIE (1946). Director: Henry King. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Glenn Langan, Lynn Bari, Alan Young, Barbara Lawrence, Conrad Janis, Esther Dale, Hobart Cavanaugh, Ann E. Todd, Hattie McDaniel, Vanessa Brown, Virginia Farmer. Color. 94 min.

10:00 AM YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME (1948). Director: Lloyd Bacon. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Dan Dailey, Oscar Levant, Barbara Lawrence, Selena Royle, Percy Kilbride, Herbert Anderson, Erskine Sanford. Black and white. 92 min.

11:45 AM APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948). Director: George Seaton. Cast: Jeanne Crain, William Holden, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart, Griff Barnett, Randy Stuart, Betty Lynn, Marion Marshall, Pati Behrs, Robert Adler, Helen Ford, Charles Lane, Gene Nelson, Almira Sessions, Ray Walker, Robert Williams. Color. 96 min.

1:30 PM THE MODEL AND THE MARRIAGE BROKER (1951). Director: George Cukor. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Scott Brady, Thelma Ritter, Zero Mostel, Michael O’Shea, Helen Ford, Frank Fontaine, Dennie Moore, John Alexander, Jay C. Flippen, Joyce Mackenzie, Nancy Kulp, Mae Marsh, Tommy Noonan. Black and white. 103 min.

3:30 PM DANGEROUS CROSSING (1953). Director: Joseph M. Newman. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Michael Rennie, Casey Adams. Black and white. 76 min.

5:00 PM PINKY (1949). Director: Elia Kazan. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters, William Lundigan, Basil Ruysdael, Kenny Washington, Nina Mae McKinney, Griff Barnett, Frederick O’Neal, Evelyn Varden, Raymond Greenleaf, Arthur Hunnicutt, Wilfred Jackson, Juanita Moore. Black and white. 102 min.

7:00 PM TAKE CARE OF MY LITTLE GIRL (1951). Director: Jean Negulesco. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Dale Robertson, Mitzi Gaynor, Jean Peters, Jeffrey Hunter, Betty Lynn, Helen Westcott, Lenka Peterson, Carol Brannon, Natalie Schafer, Beverly Dennis, Kathleen Hughes, Peggy O’Connor, June Alden, King Donovan, Margaret Field, John Litel, George Nader. Color. 94 min.

9:00 PM LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945). Director: John M. Stahl. Cast: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Mary Philips, Ray Collins, Gene Lockhart, Reed Hadley, Darryl Hickman, Chill Wills, Ruth Clifford, Mae Marsh, Paul Everton, Grant Mitchell, Addison Richards, Jim Farley. Color. 110 min.

11:00 PM THE FAN (1949). Director: Otto Preminger. Cast: Jeanne Crain, Madeleine Carroll, George Sanders, Richard Greene, Martita Hunt, John Sutton, Hugh Dempster, Richard Ney, Virginia McDowall, Colin Campbell, Terry Kilburn, Winifred Harris, George Beranger, Alphonse Martell, Eric Noonan, Tempe Pigott, John Burton. Black and white. 79 min.

1:00 AM SKYJACKED (1972). Director: John Guillermin. Cast: Charlton Heston, Yvette Mimieux, James Brolin, Claude Akins, Jeanne Crain, Susan Dey, Roosevelt Grier, Mariette Hartley, Walter Pidgeon, Ken Swofford, Leslie Uggams, Ross Elliott, Nicholas Hammond, Mike Henry, Jayson Kane a.k.a. Jayson William Kane, Toni Clayton, John Hillerman, Kelley Miles, Maureen Connell, John Fiedler, Joe Canutt, Dan White. Color. 101 mins. Letterbox Format.

Jeanne Crain movie schedule via the TCM website. Madeleine Carroll, Jeanne Crain in The Fan photo: 20th Century Fox.

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8 comments

Scott MacDonough -

In the summer of 1957, my parents took my older sister (age 16) and me (12) on a camping trip across the U.S. My sister and I were both avid movie fans and, having seen the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy & the Mertzes have lunch at Hollywood’s famous Brown Derby restaurant where they encounter William Holden & Eve Arden, we couldm’t wait to get to Pasadena where we were going to stay with 2 family friends for a week, during which we insisted on having lunch at the Derby, hoping to meet and get autographs from our favorite movie stars. I struck gold since I got to meet Joel McCrae and Jeanne Crain. Mr. McCrae went out of his way to treat us with such kindness and gentlemanly compassion, and Ms. Crain, quietly having lunch at a table with her mother, was also an angel and even more beautiful in person than she was on the silver screen. 64 years later, I still treasure that autographed menu and every time I watch Ms. Crain’s & Mr. McCrae’s movies on Turner Classic Moviess, it brings back vivid memories of that magical day when those two gracious, kind-hearted “stars” showed my sister and me that movie actors were even more wonderful in person than we even hoped they would be. (I should add that Burt Lancaster was an arrogant, conceited stinker but I had never liked his movies anyway snd Jeanne Crain and Joel McCrae were such kind-hearted, down-to-earth, friendly people that they more than made up for Lancaster’s rudeness and contempt. I should also add that,while still a teenager, I wrote fan letters requesting autographed photos from actors I especially liked, and while I realized that most of these requests were taken care of by the studio publicity departments, a few of the people I wrote to took the time to actually answer my letters with wonderful, personal hand-written letters along with personally signed photographs (NOT mass-produced atudio publicity shots but beautiful 5×7 photos they had paid for themselves). I was so touched by their extraordinary kindness that I am eternally grateful to John Smith, Kathryn Grayson and Dewey Martin!

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Teddy -

A shame she was a conservative which was contrary to most the characters she portrayed, but I guess that’s a mark of an actress. Funny how these Republican conservatives have such tragic and sad personal lives. Such a pretty actress; too bad her art didn’t imitate her life.

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Maria -

A very pretty woman, and stunning in color, as in Leave Her to Heaven.

I think her best performance was in Pinky.

Fox wanted her to play Eve Harrington, but Mankewicz nixed her. I’ve always wondered about what would have happened had she been cast. If I were Margo, I would have found her an even bigger threat. I also wonder, if she was well directed, if she could have fooled the audience at least for a while. I was onto Baxter from the get-go. It’s the second part, after she’s exposed, that one would have had to worry about with Crain. Would have been interesting, though.

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john leotti -

Jeanne Crain, while component if too talkative in “Apartment for Peggy”, was overshadowed by Bill Holden and Ed Gwenn, two of the screen’s finest actors in standout performances. These rank alongside “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Stalag 17” as their finest efforts. Bravo, Bill and Ed!!!

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Jeff B -

TCM finally played my favorite Jeanne Crain movie this past Monday…The Joker Is Wild with Frank Sinatra. They hadn’t played it in at least 3 years so it was a great pleasure watching the movie once again. Channel 2/CBS in Chicago used to run this movie in the mid to late 60’s once in a while at 10:30pm on Saturday nights. Jeanne was absolutely beautiful in the movie and in real life.

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Bill Roddick -

reinforces that the roles stars play on the screen don’t always mirror real life. So loved her in State Fair and Margie. She was everyone’s sweetheart. Her roles became a part of who we are. I wish her peace

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ERNIE MELLETT -

HELLO THERE TO EVERYONE…MY WIFE AND I LIVE IN MADRID- BUT JUST BY CHANCE WE GOT INTO A MOVIE CALLED “STATE FAIR”…AND READ ABOUT IT,PLUS AMONGST ANOTHERS IN THIS, WE THEN CHECKED OUT JEANNIE CRAIN….AND READ A LITLE ON HER ON WIKIPEDIA AND THEN INTO “FIND A GRAVE” ,COM…AND AMONG THE PEOPLE LEAVING KIND THOUGHTS AND MESSAGES ON HER, WE CAME ACROSS IN THE SECTION BY TYPING IN HIS NAME PAUL BRINKMAN(HER HUSBAND) , THAT ON THE ” KIND THOUGHTS LEFT FOR HIM SOME ONE LEFT A “MESSAGE” MORE OR LESS ,SAYING “HE TREATED HER LIKE DIRT” WITH AN ADDITION WHICH I WILL NOT MENTION!,,,,,HE GAVE HER 7 CHILDREN,2, I THINK DIED EARLIER- I THINK WE ALL HAVE TO REMEMBER NONE OF US ARE PERFECT…LIVING IN WESTWOOD, L.A(THEN). SOMEONE TOLD ME A FEW YEARS BACK THAT SHE SAW HER ON HILGARD AVENUE THERE…AS SHE PASSED BY BUT STILL RECOGNISED -SHE SMILED AND WALKED BY HER…..A LOVELY HUMAN BEING !!

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Bonnie Debel -Fingerson -

I have been a fan of Jeanne Crain all my life,(I am 63). A few weeks ago, for whatever reason, I thought of the movie “An apartment For Peggy. I thought I haven’t seen that movie for a lonnngg time, I turned to TCM yesterday, and to my Delight, it was Jeanne Crain day. A day of her movies, I was so happy. Her movies make me laugh out loud… I googled her this morning @ was saddened to learn that she had passed almost 10 years ago. I enjoyed reading the stories by her grandson. To me, she sounds like a wonderful lady with a great sense of humor.

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