Janet Blair, Stage, Film and Television Actress, Is Dead at 85

Obituaries   Janet Blair, Stage, Film and Television Actress, Is Dead at 85
Janet Blair, who began her life as singer and then turned to acting in first film, then television and the stage, died Feb. 19 from complications of pneumonia at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, it was reported. She was 85.

Ms. Blair was barely an adult when she gave up a career as a big band singer and signed a contract with Columbia Studios. Her career started promisingly, with big roles the 1942 films "Broadway" and "My Sister Eileen," in which she played Eileen Sherwood to Rosalind Russell's Ruth Sherwood. But the quality of her roles dipped by the middle of the decade. In 1950 she left Hollywood and joined a touring production of South Pacific, playing lead Nellie Forbush. It was highly successful, running more than 1,200 performances over three years. She also starred in a national tour of Mame (with Elaine Stritch supporting as Vera Charles), and starred in productions of Bells Are Ringing and Follies. She headlined a single Broadway play, a 1953 comedy called You Never Can Tell.

She also found work in such television programs as the "Ford Theatre," "Philco TV Playhouse," "Lux Video Theatre, "U.S. Steel Hour," "Caesar's Hour" and "The Smith Family."

Born Martha Jean Lafferty April 23, 1921, in Altoona, PA, she is survived by two children, Amanda and Andrew Mayo.

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