One of four children born to missionaries from the United States, Jayne Meadows (nee Cotter) and her family returned to the US in the early 1930s wherein Jayne was forced to learn the English language, then speaking Chinese and other foreign languages only. She developed an early interest in acting and her quick start on Broadway in 1941 eventually led to a post-war MGM contract in which her icy glare and imposing stance made her a perfect manipulating “other woman” in such “B” fare as Enchantment (1948) and The Fat Man (1951). She didn’t seem to grow as a film actress, however, and sought other work. In the 1950s she became one of Hollywood’s more glittery personalities and a sparkling game show panelist. She met her witty match when she married actor/comedian Steve Allen in 1954. They formed an extremely strong personal and professional relationship which would include stage (“Love Letters”, in which they co-starred on and off for 11 years), film (College Confidential (1960)) and especially TV (“Meeting of Minds”). Jayne supported Steve as a regular on many of his comedy series ventures; her solo work took a deliberate back seat. Known for her infectious laugh and joie de vivre, her confidence still grew to include writing stage plays, teleplays, books and columns, but for the most part she was Allen’s creative and business partner for 46 years until his death in 2000. Her younger sister was the late actress Audrey Meadows, of “The Honeymooners” fame, who died in 1996.
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