Birthday: September 27, 1919
Died At Age: 95
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Jayne Meadows-Allen
Born Country: China
Born in: Wuchang District
Famous as: Actress
Spouse/Ex-: Milton Krims (m. 1948–1954), Steve Allen (m. 1954–2000)
father: Rev. Francis James Meadows Cotter
mother: Ida Miller Taylor
siblings: Audrey Meadows, George Edward Cotter
children: Bill Allen
Died on: April 26, 2015
Who was Jayne Meadows?
Jayne Meadows was an American television, film and theatre actress, best known for her partnership, both onscreen and off-screen with her husband, Steve Allen. She won many awards and was nominated for three Emmy Awards and one Grammy Award throughout her six-decade career. She also received many Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from myriad universities. Meadows was an author of many columns, plays and books, one of which won her the ‘American Book Award’. As an actress, she had a glamorous Broadway comedy career from which she moved on to star in films alongside Gregory Peck, Katherine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, etc. Her quick wit and infectious laughter on television game shows like ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ made her a household name. She worked on several prime-time shows and TV movies with Steve Allen like the much admired ‘Meeting of Minds’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’. She was politically active too, but retired from all public life after injuries and illness took a toll on her health.
As a teenager, Jayne Meadows would take part in summer stock theatre, which piqued her interest in acting. Along with her sister, Meadows moved to New York at a young age and landed a Broadway role in the comedy ‘Spring Again’ in 1941. With her glamourous beauty and acting prowess, Meadows bagged an MGM contract where she made a mark in movies like ‘Undercurrent’ and ‘Enchantment’ in 1946 and 1948 respectively. She was awarded the ‘Cosmopolitan Award for Finest Dramatic Performance of 1949’ for her role in ‘Enchantment’.
In 1952, when Meadows’ film career had reached a plateau, she embraced television and was cast in a dramatic role in the ‘Danger’ series, after which her career took off again. She featured in almost every big variety TV show, TV movie, game show and TV series. With her charm and talent, Meadows beat out most famous actors and actresses of her time to bag the panelist role for the game-show ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ in 1952.
She married actor Steve Allen in 1954 and began their lifelong partnership both on-screen and off-screen. From 1956 onwards, starting with the film ‘College Confidential’, they worked together and starred in many films, stage plays and TV shows, most notably ‘Meeting of Minds’, ‘General Electric Theatre’, ‘Hotel’, ‘Homicide, Life on the Street’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, etc. She was also famously involved in and guest-starred in the original ‘Tonight’ show which Steve Allen created.
In 1979, for her role as the famous women’s rights activist, Susan B. Anthony, in the TV show ‘Meeting of Minds,’ Meadows won the first ‘Women’s Equality Day Award’ from the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women. Her last onscreen role was in the 1999 movie ‘The Story of Us’.
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Family & Personal Life
Jane Meadows was born on September 27, 1919 in Wuchang, China. Her father, Rev. Francis James Meadows Cotter and mother, Ida Miller Taylor Cotter, were American Episcopalian missionaries. Until the age of 8, she lived along the banks of the Yangtze River with her parents, brothers, Frank and Edward, and younger sister Audrey. The family was forced to move back to US in 1927 when the Chinese Nationalist Army bombed their village. In the US, Meadows had to learn English from scratch since she only spoke Mandarin and other Chinese languages until then. By the early 1930s, the family had moved to Sharon, Connecticut, where Meadows attended school with her brothers and sister while her father worked as the rector of Christ Church.
After moving to New York for a showbiz career, Jayne and her sister changed their professional names to Meadows under the requirements of their studio contracts with MGM. Her sister, Audrey Meadows, also went on to achieve much fame as an actress, most notably for the TV show ‘The Honeymooners’.
Jayne Meadows was married to screenwriter, Milton Krims, from 1948 to 1954. She married actor, Steve Allen, in 1954 and was widowed in 2000. She had one son, Bill, with Steve Allen, and three grandchildren. She was also a stepmother to three of Steve Allen’s children from his first marriage. Meadows was actively involved in the Republican Party and led a public life until 2009 when she attended the ‘Early TV Memories First-Class Commemorative Stamp Dedication Ceremony.’ Soon after, she suffered from a fractured hip and her health took a turn for the worse. She passed away on April 26, 2015 at her home in Encino, California at the age of 95. She was buried next to her beloved husband, Steve Allen.