Classic Actress Jeanne Crain

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on June 6, 2004

One of my favorite actresses, Jeanne Crain, passed away recently. Do you have information on her life?

—Jerrie Y., Ohio

The pretty actress of the World War II era remains best known for her role of a black girl passing for a white girl in the controversial movie Pinky. In fact, her work was so powerful that it earned her an Oscar nomination. She solidified her reputation as a serious actress with the film A Letter To Three Wives, playing a poor girl who marries into wealth. The auburn-haired beauty was extremely popular with moviegoers, receiving nearly as much mail from soldiers as the top pin-up of the time, Betty Grable. She also starred in The Gang’s All Here, You Were Meant for Me, Man Without a Star and The Fastest Gun Alive. A native of Barstow, Calif., (pop. 21,119) she began acting in school plays and entering beauty pageants as a teenager. She was named Miss Long Beach and was runner-up in the Miss America contest. In 1946, she married actor-turned-businessman Paul Brinkman, and they had seven children, two of whom pre-deceased them. Her final film, Skyjacked, was released in 1972. She had retired to run two ranches with her husband, but was still receiving regular fan mail when she was in her 70s. “They write as if the films were just being released,” she once said. “The films must have aged well.” Brinkman passed away two months before his wife, who was 78 when she died of a heart attack in December.