Janis Paige, Musical Star of Broadway and Hollywood, Dies at 101

The Golden Age actress performed on stage in “The Pajama Game,” “Gypsy” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” as well as her own 1950s sitcom

Actress Janis Paige
Actress Janis Paige (CREDIT: John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Janis Paige, one of the last remaining stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles, longtime friend Stuart Lampert said Monday. She was 101 years old.

Her numerous stage productions include “Gypsy” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” and she appeared in movie musicals opposite Doris Day including “Romance on the High Seas” and “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” Bob Hope in 1961’s “Bachelor in Paradise” and Fred Astaire in 1957’s “Silk Stockings.”

On Broadway, her starring role as Babe in the 1954 production of “The Pajama Game” led to an Esquire magazine cover, but Doris Day nabbed the role for the 1957 movie. Likewise, when it came time for the film adaptation of musical “Remains to Be Seen,” June Allyson took over the part played by Paige on Broadway.

After catching her nightclub act at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A., producer Arthur Freed cast her opposite Astaire in “Silk Stockings,” a musical remake of “Ninotchka.”

The actress was born Donna Mae Tjaden in Tacoma, Washington, on Sept. 16, 1922. She got her start as a singer at the famed Hollywood Canteen club during World War II. She later appeared in the 1944 film of the same name, which featured A-listers Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck catering to U.S. troops.

Paige went on entertain soldiers in person at Hollywood-adjacent training ground Camp Roberts and was chosen as the Air Force’s “Black Widow Girl” pin-up by P-61 Black Widow pilots.

The actress later accompanied Bob Hope on several USO tours during the 1960s and performed in nightclubs with Sammy Davis Jr., Dinah Shore and Perry Como.

On TV, she starred in her own sitcom, “It’s Always Jan,” from 1955 to 1956, playing a widowed nightclub singer. She guested on series from “The Fugitive” and “Columbo” to “Night Court” and “The Love Boat.” She had a recurring a role on “Eight is Enough” as Vivian, the flamboyant sister of main character Tom (Dick Van Patten) and played Minx Lockridge on 106 episodes of the NBC soap “Santa Barbara.”

Her final TV appearance was in a 2001 episode of CBS legal drama “Family Law.”


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