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Jane Kean Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (9)

Overview (2)

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Died in Burbank, California, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Lovely, vivacious, honey-blonde entertainer Jane Kean enjoyed a lengthy career spanning over six decades encompassing vaudeville, radio, Broadway, nightclubs, Las Vegas showrooms, TV variety and the occasional film. Born April 10, 1923, in Hartford, Connecticut, Jane's parents split up while she was fairly young and her mother, prodding her daughters into the performing arts, moved the family to New York to test the waters. Elder sister (by 8 years) Betty Kean (1915-1986) moved quickly and successfully into show business and Jane would follow suit.

Beginning her career on the professional stage with a role in "Hi Ya, Gentlemen!" at the Colonial Theatre in Boston, Jane made her film debut in the Republic musical Sailors on Leave (1941) starring William Lundigan and Shirley Ross and was also featured in the film Flying with Music (1942) before focusing strongly on the live stage. She took her first Broadway curtain call in the Fats Waller musical "Early to Bed" with actor/producer Richard Kollmar in 1943. She followed this with another Broadway musical "The Girl from Nantucket" (1945) and then came in as a replacement for "Call Me Mister".

Following these successes, Jane and sister Betty teamed up as a popular nightclub duo ("Betty & Jane Kean") who weaved singing and dancing with broad comedy. The ladies also worked together on Broadway in the musical shows "Along Fifth Avenue" (1949) which starred Jackie Gleason and "Ankles Aweigh" (1955) which featured Betty's third husband, Lew Parker, a veteran character actor who would gain fame a decade later as Marlo Thomas beleaguered dad on That Girl (1966). Betty and Jane also appeared to advantage on the such TV variety shows as "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Jackie Gleason Show," and headlined their own vaudeville act both here and abroad (London Palladium (1956)).

Betty, who was previously married to comedian Frank Fay and actor Jim Backus before marrying Parker, and Jane eventually decided to go their own ways. Having worked with The Great One" Jackie Gleason back on the vaudeville circuit as well as on the musical stage back in the 1940s and 1950s, Jane was asked to join "The Honeymooners" cast as Trixie Norton when the show was revived on Gleason's variety show The Jackie Gleason Show (1966) as a sketch segment. Joining Sheila MacRae as Alice Kramden and TV husband Art Carney as Ed Norton, the segment, which was shot in Miami Beach, subsequently expanded to an hour format and would include songs.

Elsewhere, Jane appeared a series of stage plays and musicals including "The Pajama Game" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" in which she would take over Jayne Mansfield's sexpot role. Other productions included "The Mind with the Dirty Man," "Light Up the Sky," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," "Carnival," "Follies" and "70 Girls 70." As for TV, she guested on such established programs as "The Danny Thomas Show," "The Lucy Show," "Love, American Style," "The Dean Martin Show," "Cannon," "The Love Boat," "The Facts of Life," "Growing Pains," "Dallas," "Dream On" and the daytime soaps "Days of Our Lives" and "General Hospital." Jane intermittently lent her voice to films and commercials, notably the perennial animated holiday classic Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962) starring Jim Backus, Jack Cassidy and Royal Dano in which she spoke and sang the part of Belle, and in the part live/part animated feature film Pete's Dragon (1977) which co-starred Helen Reddy and Jim Dale.

In later years Jane performed on the dinner theatre circuit, at college campuses and on cruise lines. She was married twice -- first to Richard Linkroum (1962-1969) and then to her manager, Joe Hecht, who died in 2006. She had no children.

She remained active throughout her life and in 2012, at age 89, appeared in her own one-woman show "An Evening with Jane Kean" in which she humorously referred to herself as the "Lady Gaga of the Stone Age." She also wrote her memoir "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Honeymooners...I had a Life." One of her last professional jobs was voicing the role of Aunt Ida in the animated feature Dose Hermanos: Shadow of the Invisible Man (1999). Jane died in Burbank, California, on November 26, 2013, at age 90 of a stroke after being hospitalized following a fall at her Toluca Lake home.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Joe Hecht (21 March 1970 - 1 January 2006) ( his death)
Dick Linkroum (8 December 1962 - 1969) ( divorced)

Trivia (9)

With her older sister, Betty Kean, half of the comedy duo of "Betty & Jane Kean".
Second husband Joe Hecht was a former actor who became her personal manager when they married in 1970.
Fondly remembered for replacing Joyce Randolph as Trixie Norton in "The Honeymooners" sketches when the show was revived by Jackie Gleason in 1966.
Trained for the stage with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
Replaced bombshell Jayne Mansfield on Broadway in "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?".
Sister-in-law of Lew Parker.
Los Angeles, CA. Performed her one-woman show "An Evening With Jane Kean" at the Colony Theater in Burbank. [September 2012]
Attended the 2009 Cinecon Celebrity Banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. [September 2009]
Ex-sister-in-law of Jim Backus and Frank Fay.

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