Jan Clayton (1917 - 1983)



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I met her when I was fifteen years old in April 1959 when she sang a song for me on the Ed Sullivan Show called "What the Use of Wond'rin'" from Carousel which she originated on Broadway. The next time I met her she was appearing in the original production of "Follies' on Broadway in 1971. Then we became very close from then on. We played cards, shared dinners, went to shows, went upstate to see the fall foliage. She sent about 75 letters and cards and we swapped presents for birthdays and Christmas and other occasions. She even sang at a party and her longtime accompanist [who was my vocal coach] Jack Prenner played for her. I loved her very much and constantly miss her. She was exceptionally witty and bright. I told her she would publish a book and her name would be on the cover of it. She questioned my psychic ability, so I told her that the cab driver would confirm my ability. The cab driver said, "I never met you before! You don't know me!" So I startled the both of them when I told him that he had a walk-on in "LUTHER" on Broadway and that when he was in the chorus of a musical in the 1950's in Kansas City he was in love with the star of the show and that was a secret he never revealed to anyone. He was flabbergasted and said, "Wow! She really is psychic because I was madly in love with Jan Clayton!" And Jan said, "You were madly in love with me? Want to go out on a date?" He immediately exchanged phone numbers. She did publish a great book with a friend of her and her name is on the cover. Bewitched, Bothered and Bedeviled" a book about lyricist Lorenz Hart.
Jan Clayton
Born August 26, 1917
Tularosa, New Mexico, U.S.
Died August 28, 1983 (aged 66)
West Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress and Singer
Years active 1935–81
(1) Russell Hayden (married 1938–43, divorced)
1 Daughter: Sandra Hayden
(2) Robert Lerner (married 1946–58, divorced)
3 Children: Daughter: Robin Lerner, Daughter: Karen Lerner. Son: Joseph Lerner.
(3) George Greeley (married 1966–68, divorced)
Jan Clayton (August 26, 1917 – August 28, 1983) was a film, musical theater, and television actress. She starred in the popular 1950s TV series Lassie.
Born near Alamogordo, New Mexico, the only child of two schoolteachers, Clayton started singing by age four.
Clayton was one of the original stars of the classic TV show Lassie, playing Ellen Miller from 1954 to 1957.
She did a series of movies with William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy.
Jan Clayton made several films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, FATHER WAS A PRINCE and THIS MAN'S NAVY and an unbilled role in 1948 as a singing inmate in The Snake Pit. Earlier, however, she had been selected to play the role of Julie Jordan in the original 1945 Broadway production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic Carousel. Clayton can be heard on the original cast recordings of both Carousel (1945) and the 1946 film version of Kern's 1927 musical play Show Boat. The Show Boat album was the first American production of the show to be recorded with its original cast. In May 1954, Clayton guest-starred in ABC's sitcom Where's Raymond? starring Ray Bolger as a song-and-dance man, Raymond Wallace. She played Francine Tremont, an actress and wife of a banker. In the story line, Francine is in town to make a special appearance with Bolger.In 1954, Clayton was one of the many guest stars in a television spectacular tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, The General Foods 25th Anniversary Show, which featured all the then-surviving stars (except Alfred Drake) of all the classic Broadway musicals that the team had written (1943–1954). Clayton and John Raitt, in full makeup and costume, performed "If I Loved You" (also known as the Bench Scene) from Carousel. It was the first opportunity for millions of viewers to see a scene from the musical, since none of the film versions of the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musicals had yet been released. Clayton during this period also played herself in an appearance on Peter Lawford's short-lived NBC sitcom Dear Phoebe.
While starring in Show Boat, Clayton met Robert Lerner, an heir to the women's clothing shops bearing his name. They were married and moved to California, where Lerner attended Loyola Law School and Clayton concentrated on mothering. "We had three children in three years", she said in a 1976 interview with People magazine. "Then came Lassie"; "I took it because I was dying to work."
Clayton would become best known to TV audiences as Jeff Miller's (Tommy Rettig) mother on the television series Lassie (aka Jeff's Collie in syndication re-runs). Clayton played the first four seasons of Lassie, from September 1954 to December 1957, as Ellen Miller, a war widow living on her father-in-law's farm with her preteen son, Jeff, and her late husband's cantankerous old father, Gramps (played by the Canadian-born George Cleveland).
Clayton brought her extensive acting experience on Broadway to the Lassie series, portraying in her character Ellen the traits of a loving mother with a wide range of heartfelt emotions ranging from sorrow and tragedy to great comedic relief. There were only a few times in Lassie when Clayton exhibited her impressive singing talents, most notably in the episode "The Gypsys" (Season 2, Ep. 15) in which she sang the song "Marushka". Despite Lassie doing well with the TV audiences, Tommy Rettig sought release from his contract in the popular series' fourth season. Clayton quit the production as well at that time. "My home life was being absolutely wrecked," she explained. "I had four children and a husband, and I was always working".
The sudden death of George Cleveland hastened the departure of the remaining cast. In the episode "Transition." Ellen and Jeff start a new life in the city after selling the farm to the Martin family (co-starring Cloris Leachman and Jon Shepodd) and giving Lassie to little Timmy Martin (played by child actor Jon Provost). Clayton appeared in only one more Lassie episode after those cast changes. In "Timmy's Family", broadcast originally in December 1957, she guest-starred in a supporting role to Lassie's new family. Following her departure from Lassie, Clayton in 1959 starred in a TV pilot called "The Jan Clayton Show", a sitcom in which she portrayed a college English teacher. She produced and starred the next year in "The Brown Horse" another proposed series about a woman trying to pay for her daughter's college tuition by working in a San Francisco restaurant. Then, in 1961, she again starred in a comedy pilot based on Bess Streeter Aldrich's book Cheers for Miss Bishop. None of those three pilots was ever "picked up" or purchased by a sponsor for production as a weekly series. Clayton also performed in the 1961 episode "The Prairie Story" on NBC's Wagon Train. The episode, written by Jean Holloway, examines how the harsh prairie causes havoc in the lives of some of the women on the wagon train. Robert Horton starred in this episode, which aired three months after the death of Ward Bond.
In the 1962 episode "St. Louis Woman" on NBC's The Tall Man, Clayton performed in the role of Janet Harper, a widow engaged to Tom Davis ( Canadian-born Russ Conway), a friend of Sheriff Pat Garrett (Barry Sullivan). While Tom is away from Lincoln, New Mexico, the setting of The Tall Man, on a cattle drive, Janet begins to show a romantic interest in Garrett. Roger Mobley appears in this episode as David Harper, Janet's young son.
In "The Man Who Wouldn't Die", a 1967 episode of the syndicated series Death Valley Days, Clayton was cast as the Margaret Wilbarger, the sister of Texas pioneer Josiah Wilbarger, who lived for 11 years after being scalped by the Comanche. Don Collier played Wilbarger, for whom Wilbarger County, Texas, is named, along with Wilbarger's brother.
Clayton was posthumously inducted into the New Mexico Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2012.
Personal life
Clayton's first husband was western actor Russell Hayden. The couple married in 1938 and had one daughter, Sandra Jane Hayden, who was born in 1940 but died at the age of 16 in an automobile accident on September 22, 1956. While driving her mother's Cadillac, Sandra ran through a stop sign and collided with another car. Prior to her daughter's tragic death, Clayton had divorced Russell Hayden in 1943. Three years later she married Robert Lerner, an attorney and brother of famed Broadway lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. Their marriage, which ended in 1958, produced two daughters and a son: Robin (b. 1948), Karen (b. 1949), and Joe (b. 1950). Clayton married for a third and final time in 1966 to pianist and film/television composer George Greeley.
Jan Clayton died of cancer in West Hollywood, California, on August 28, 1983, just two days after her 66th birthday. Her ashes are buried next to the gravesite of her father at Fairview Cemetery in Tularosa, New Mexico.

Jan Clayton Biography & Family History

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Jan Clayton was also known as:

Jane Byrol Clayton



on in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Cause of death: Colon cancer

Cause of death

Colon cancer

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Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California

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Husband: Robert Warren Lerner
Children with Robert: Robin Lerner, Karen Lerner, and Joseph Clayton Lerner

Husband: Russell Hayden
Children with Russell: Sandra Jane Hayden

Husband: George Greeley


College graduate.


Actress, singer, dancer. Author. Lecturer.


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1917 - In the year that Jan Clayton was born, the NHL (National Hockey League) was established as a response to the demise of the National Hockey Association (NHA). The first superstar of the League was "Phantom" Joe Malone of the Montreal Canadiens, a leading scorer with records that still stand. The Canadiens won the NHL championship over the Senators.

1919 - When she was only 2 years old, in the summer and early autumn, race riots erupted in 26 U.S. cities, resulting in hundreds of deaths and even more people being badly hurt. In most cases, African-Americans were the victims. It was called the "Red Summer". Men who were returning from World War I needed jobs and there was competition for those jobs among the races. Tension was heightened by the use by many companies of blacks as strikebreakers.

1949 - By the time she was 32 years old, on April 4th, NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was established. Twelve nations originally signed the North Atlantic Treaty - the United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Iceland, Canada, and Portugal. Greece, Turkey, and West Germany later joined. Today, there are 26 nations in NATO.

1966 - Jan was 49 years old when on July 1st, Medicare became available after President Johnson signed into law the Medicare Act in 1965. President Truman had received the first Medicare card since he had been the first to propose national healthcare law. insurance.

1983 - In the year of Jan Clayton's passing, "crack" cocaine was developed in the Bahamas and spread to the United States. Previously, cocaine had been cut with other substances, diluting it. Crack was 80% pure and therefore was more addictive. It was also cheaper, making it more easily available to low income neighborhoods.

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Jan Clayton, who played Tommy Rettig's mother in the original ''Lassie'' television series, died of cancer and other diseases Sunday at her home in West Hollywood. She was 66 years old.
Miss Clayton, a native of Tularosa, N. M., graduated from Tularosa High School in 1935 and studied music and drama at Gulf Park College for Women in Gulfport, Miss.
She arrived in Hollywood after appearing in talent shows. Her first film role was ''In Old Mexico.''
Miss Clayton also had several roles on Broadway, playing Julie in the original production of ''Carousel.'' Roles in such hits as ''Show Boat,'' ''South Pacific,'' ''Guys and Dolls,'' ''Auntie Mame'' and ''Kiss Me Kate'' followed. Nominated for Emmy
In ''Lassie,'' she played Ellen Miller, the mother of Jeff Miller - the character played by Tommy Rettig - from 1954 to 1957. The series earned three Emmy awards and Miss Clayton was nominated for an Emmy.
In recent years, she served on the National Council of the United Service Organizations Inc., touring the world.

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