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Jan Clayton
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Actress
    (August 26, 1917-August 28, 1983)
    Born in Tularosa (Otero County), New Mexico
    Birth name was Jane Byral Clayton
    Portrayed Ellen Miller, Jeff''s mother, on the original 'Lassie' series (1954-57)
    Originated the role of Julie Jordan in Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Carousel' on Broadway, opposite John Raitt (1945- 46)
    Acted in 'The Wolf Hunters,' 'Spreadin' the Jam,' 'This Man's Navy,' 'Six-Gun Gold,' and 'The Showdown'
    She married and divorced three times.
    She struggled with alcoholism in her later years.
    She was billed early on as 'The Singing Janet Gaynor.'
    She knocked the '-e' off of her first name to be different.
    She starred in three TV pilots, none of which were ever picked up.
    Her juiciest movie role was a bit part as a singing mental patient in 'The Snake Pit.'
    She later joked about how producers refused to let her play Ellen realistically and 'haul off and smack [Jeff] in the fanny like I would my own children.'
    She opted out of doing a fifth season of 'Lassie,' because she was reportedly 'tired of wearing the same farm dress everyday. '
    She rejected a storyline that would have had her remarry and adopt the newly introduced 'Timmy' character played by Jon Provost (producers hoped that she would change her mind mid-season).
    She was singing from the age of four.
    Her eldest daughter died in a car accident at the age of sixteen.
    She was nominated for a Lead Actress Emmy, in both 1957 and 1958, for 'Lassie.'
    Tommy Rettig called her 'a second mother to me' (she testified on his behalf during his drug court hearing).
    She was cast as Julie Jordan after being discovered by Theater Guild's Theresa Helburn, with only a handful of small MGM roles to her credit.
    Marta Becket credited her with giving strong words of encouragement when they worked together on 'Show Boat.'
    Her debut 'Carousel' performance led Kern and Hammerstein to offer their services to MGM for $1 if executives would cast her as Magnolia in a 'Show Boat' movie.
    Fans of the 'Lassie' franchise tend to prefer her and Rettig's early seasons, where the family displayed a very natural rapport.
    When she signed autographs backstage after for a NYC Center revival of 'The King and I,' kids reportedly were worried that it was late and 'Lassie's mother had to make it back to the farm.'
    She volunteered with the Alcoholism Council of Greater LA, and was a spokesperson for the 'Schtick' Stop Smoking campaign (both in the late 70s).
    She was forthright about her struggles with alcoholism, telling People Magazine: 'My drinking got worse after my daughter died. Before that I was a social drinker. But even then after a few drinks I’d get the sillies, then the cries and finally the meanies.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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