Hollywood actress Janis Paige’s passing aged 101 sparks flood of ‘last great icon’ tributes


Hollywood actress Janis Paige’s passing aged 101 has sparked a flood of tributes from fans who have been posting clips of her earliest work.
The Golden Age icon passed away on Sunday (02.06.24), with her death announced late on Monday (03.06.24) by her long-time friend Stuart Lamper – who said she died of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Highlights of Janis’ six-decade career included performing with comedy legend Bob Hope in Vietnam.
Fans of the actress have spent the last day filling social media with images and clips of her classic roles, while hailing her as one of Hollywood’s “last great icons”.
Born Donna Mae Tjaden in Tacoma, Washington, on 16 September, 1922, Janis moved to LA with her sister after graduating from Stadium High School and was hired to sing at the Hollywood Canteen – a club established by movie studios on Cahuenga Boulevard to entertain troops during World War II.
She was put on contract by MGM and then Warner Bros., and in 1944 made her big-screen debut in Bathing Beauty, starring Esther Williams, Red Skelton and Basil Rathbone.
She also starred in her own network sitcom, playing a widowed nightclub singer struggling to raise her 10-year-old daughter on the CBS series ‘It’s Always Jan’.
In 1968, Paige replaced Angela Lansbury in ‘Mame’ on Broadway and performed as the title character for nearly two years.
She then returned to the cinema to star alongside Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in 1957’s ‘Silk Stockings’.
Janis continued to perform well into her 80s, wiyth her other films including Doris Day comedy ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’.
In 2018, she joined the #MeToo movement by alleging she was subjected to an assault aged 22 by the late department-store heir Alfred Bloomingdale, who died in 1982.
She said: “I could feel his hands, not only on my breasts, but seemingly everywhere. He was big and strong, and I began to fight, kick, bite and scream.
“At 95, time is not on my side, and neither is silence. I simply want to add my name and say, ‘Me too’.”
Janis and Bob Hope – who died aged 100 in 2003 – sung during the annual troops Christmas show in Saigon, Vietnam on Christmas Day in 1964.
In May 2003, the actress got back to the entertainment business after a long absence by opening a show she called ‘The Third Act’ at San Francisco’s Plush Room – which featured her recounting tales about her encounters with the likes of Bob, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and others.
Her last appearance on Broadway was in 1984’s ‘Alone Together’ and in 2020 she brought out her memoir ‘Reading Between the Lines: A Memoir’.
She married three times – first getting hitched in 1947 to San Francisco restaurateur Frank Martinelli, then in 1956 to Arthur Stander.
Her third husband was songwriter Ray Gilbert, who won an Oscar for his song ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da’ from Disney’s ‘Song of the South’, before he died in 1976, with Janis taking over the running of his music company.