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Jean Arthur
Jean Arthur - signed.jpg
Publicity photo mid-1930s
Gladys Georgianna Greene

(1900-10-17)October 17, 1900
Died June 19, 1991(1991-06-19) (aged 90)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1923–75
Julian Anker (m. 1928–1928)

Frank Ross, Jr.
(m. 1932; div. 1949)

Jean Arthur (born Gladys Georgianna Greene; October 17, 1900 – June 19, 1991) was an American actress and a major film star of the 1930s and 1940s.

Discovered by Fox Film Studios while she was doing commercial modeling in New York City in the early 1920s, Arthur landed a one-year contract and debuted in the silent film Cameo Kirby (1923), directed by John Ford. She is said to have taken her stage name from two of her greatest heroes, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) and King Arthur.

Arthur had feature roles in three Frank Capra films: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), You Can't Take It with You (1938), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), films that championed the "everyday heroine". Arthur was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1944 for her performance in The More the Merrier (1943).

James Harvey wrote in his recounting of the era, "No one was more closely identified with the screwball comedy than Jean Arthur. So much was she part of it, so much was her star personality defined by it, that the screwball style itself seems almost unimaginable without her." She has been called "the perfect comedic leading lady".

Jean Arthur in Shane
Alan Ladd and Jean Arthur in Shane (1953)

Her last film performance was the memorable, and distinctly non-comedic, homesteader's wife in George Stevens' Shane in 1953. To the public, Arthur was known as a reclusive woman. News magazine Life observed in a 1940 article: "Next to Garbo, Jean Arthur is Hollywood's reigning mystery woman." As well as refusing interviews, she avoided photographers and refused to become a part of any kind of publicity.

Personal life

Jean Arthur - Smith
Arthur in 1939

Arthur was born in Plattsburgh, New York. She is of Norwegian-English descent. Arthur was raised in Westbrook, Maine.

Before many of her later film roles, she worked as a stenographer on Bond Street in lower Manhattan during World War I and the early 1920s. Both her father and siblings registered for the draft. Her brother Albert died as a result of injuries sustained in battle during World War I.

She was married to Julian Anker from 1928 until they annulled their marriage in 1928. Then she was married to Frank Ross, Jr. from 1932 until they divorced in 1949.

Arthur died on June 19, 1991 in Carmel, California from heart failure, aged 90, no funeral service was held. She was cremated, and her remains were scattered off the coast of Point Lobos, California.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Jean Arthur has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6333 Hollywood Blvd. The Jean Arthur Atrium was her gift to the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.

On May 2, 2015, the city of Plattsburgh, New York, honored her with a plaque in front of the house where she was born (94 Oak Street).

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