Jane Greer grows on you. At least she did on me ever since I saw her in Out of the Past (1947). I can see why Howard Hughes fell for her and fell for her hard. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Little baby Greer first started her career by winning beauty contests. And as a teenager, her good looks had come into full bloom and an attractive contralto voice made her a desirable addition to any band. Greer was singing with big bands (most notably Enric Madriguera’s orchestra in Latin Club Del Rio in Washington, D.C.) before she was out of her teens.
The legend goes that age 15, Jane suffered an attack of palsy that left her face partially paralyzed. She claimed that it was through facial exercises to overcome the paralysis that she learned the efficacy of facial expression in conveying human emotion, a skill she was renowned for using in her acting. Plus, it made her hard as nails and when she didn’t like something or someone, well, good luck trying to win her over.
Howard Hughes spotted Greer modeling on the cover of Life magazine of June 8, 1942 and sent her to Hollywood to become an actress. Now this is where everything gets interested with Greer, starting with the Life photo shoot. Here is a series of photos taken from that session.
Greer is beautiful and can pour on the cheesecake better than any of them. I especially love her negligee.
But, true to Jane’s nature she can’t take this stuff, or herself, so seriously and breaks into a play grin that makes her more sexy than ever – IMO.
But then she gets back to business after a cigarette break.
And the final version of that life magazine cover is her big break into the business.
Jane married Rudy Vallee, her senior by 22 years, in 1943. Hughes lent out the actress to RKO to star in many films, including Dick Tracy (1945), Out of the Past (1947), They Won’t Believe Me (1947), and the comedy/suspense film The Big Steal (1949), alongside Out of the Past co-star Robert Mitchum.
Out of the Past with favorite co-star was a huge hit for both up and coming stars.
Jane was at first intimidated by her hunky co-star but she quickly got over it after getting to know Mitchum. For all his tough-guy reputation, Robert was one of the nicest, most intelligent and most giving actors who rose to fame in noir.
Both stars became great friends for the rest of their lives and would star again with each other on screen.
But it was Out of the Past that anyone who wants to see Greer and Mitchum perform at the top of their form.
And see Jane Greer as the defining femme fatale that would influence so many others.
Greer was also the first woman to sue Howard Hughes and RKO Pictures because she didn’t like the films he was putting her in. And here’s the best part – she won. And here’s the even better part, Hughes loved her so much that he kept using her.
Jane was a true original and one of the first femme fatales onscreen. Offscreen, she told it like it was and played by her own rules as well. Makes you wonder how art does imitate life sometimes.
Especially when both are starring a leading lady as beautiful and talented as Jane Greer!