Follow TV Tropes

Following

Creator / Jean Arthur

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jean_arthur_1930s_everett.jpg

"It's a strenuous job every day of your life to live up to the way you look on the screen."

Jean Arthur (born Gladys Georgianna Greene; October 17, 1900 June 19, 1991) was an American film actress who began her career in the silents but is best known for her comedic roles during The Golden Age of Hollywood. She appeared in many films; most famously as Frank Capras favorite wisecracking, down-to-earth heroines in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

After appearing in films for various studios in the 1920s and early '30s, Arthur had a brief stint on the Broadway stage before signing with Columbia Pictures in 1934. Unfortunately, Columbia was headed by the notorious penny-pincher and all-around Scrooge Harry Cohn, who repeatedly angered her with subpar roles and needless suspensions and, she later implied to writer and film historian Joseph McBride, included her among the list of actresses who he would routinely sexually harass. But she also made her best films for Columbia, claiming the throne as the matchless comedic leading lady. While she never won an Academy Award, she was nominated for Best Actress for her role in The More the Merrier.

Arthur was considered a recluse and rarely did interviews. She was naturally shy and never found the appeal of Hollywood fame. Asked if she would like to have an interview, Arthur replied, "Quite frankly, I'd rather have my throat slit." She also suffered from immense stage fright, making her seem aloof or cold; however, her screen presence said the opposite: warm, outgoing, and inviting.

Arthur went into semi-retirement after her Columbia contract expired in 1944, with her final film for the studio being The Impatient Years, released that same year; after filming wrapped she reportedly ran through the studio backlot, shouting "I'm free, I'm free!" Over the next several years, she turned down virtually all film roles that were offered to her, with two exceptions: as a congresswoman and romantic rival of Marlene Dietrich in Billy Wilder's A Foreign Affair (1948), and as a homesteader's wife helped by Alan Ladd in George Stevens's classic Western Shane (1953), which turned out to be the biggest box-office hit of her career. The latter was her final film, and the only color film in which she appeared. After filming Shane, she retired from the silver screen for good and went on Broadway; however, her insecurity would often get the best of her. In the mid-'60s she made a brief foray into television, guest starring in an episode of Gunsmoke and headlining the short-lived sitcom The Jean Arthur Show.

Her last days were spent in her home in Carmel, California. She died at the ripe age of 90.


Select Jean Arthur films:


Tropes related to Arthur's film roles:


Top