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Jean Wallace Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (14)

Overview (3)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (gastrointestinal hemorrhage)
Birth NameJean Walasek

Mini Bio (1)

Teenage fashion model and Earl Carroll showgirl Jean Wallace failed in her first bid to break into movies, after MGM discovered that she was only 17, not 19 years old - as she had claimed. Being underage meant that she could only work four hours a day (and with an official tutor) and so her bit in Ziegfeld Girl (1941) was all there was. At Paramount, her luck improved. Signed to a six months contract (plus complimentary tutor) the platinum blonde insurance salesman's daughter made her first motion picture appearance in a credited part in Louisiana Purchase (1941). Her next stop was 20th Century Fox where she spent five years under contract, but had very little to do after refusing to appear in Kiss of Death (1947), not a good career move, as it turned out. For the next few years, Jean's screen career was overshadowed by her turbulent private life.

A chance meeting in July 1941 between Jean and the actor Franchot Tone, formerly Joan Crawford partner and twice her age, had led to a whirlwind romance, seven years of rocky marriage and, ultimately, divorce. Jean twice attempted suicide, the first with sleeping pills in 1946, the second by stabbing herself in the abdomen in 1949. During the acrimonious divorce proceedings that followed, Jean alleged extreme jealousy and an affair with peroxide blond siren Barbara Payton, while Tone claimed that his wife had been involved with gangster Johnny Stompanato, bodyguard of infamous L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen (Stompanato later came to grief at the hands of Lana Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane, in 1958). In 1950, Jean married soldier James Randall in San Diego, but this union was annulled after just five months. Having lost custody of her two children to Tone, she then lost her driver's license, following a charge of drunk driving. Things could only get better.

In September 1951, Jean got married for the third time. From here on, her career became inextricably linked to that of her husband, actor and director Cornel Wilde, who assumed a 'Svengali'-like role in attempting to mould her into an actress of stature. She was featured opposite him in a number of mostly routine B-movies, made by his production company Theadora. Best among those was a lesser film noir, The Big Combo (1955), where she played a self-destructive gangster's moll torn between evil crime boss Richard Conte and nice police lieutenant, Wilde. In the colourful Maracaibo (1958),which was largely shot on location, she was an icy journalist, one third of a love triangle, involving Wilde as a 'Red' Adair-type action hero, dousing oil fires in Venezuela (featuring in the cast a young Michael Landon of Bonanza (1959) fame). Jean sang in the soundtrack, which she also did for both Star of India (1954), and Beach Red (1967) (though her acting part in this war picture was somewhat perfunctory). In Sword of Lancelot (1963), she was Guinevere to Wilde's Lancelot, who also co-produced and directed. Her last starring role was in Wilde's No Blade of Grass (1970), in which a family escapes from a post-apocalyptic world, not unlike I Am Legend (2007)(or its earlier incarnation, The Omega Man (1971)).

After divorcing Wilde in 1980, Jean lived with a menagerie of pets (including two snakes and a tarantula) in Beverly Hills until her untimely death in February 1990.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (3)

Cornel Wilde (4 September 1951 - 10 December 1982) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
James Lloyd Randall (29 January 1950 - 6 November 1950) ( annulled)
Franchot Tone (18 October 1941 - 1 October 1949) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (14)

She attempted suicide in 1946 with sleeping pills, and in 1949 with a self inflicted knife wound.
Her two sons with Franchot Tone are Pascal Franchot Tone and Thomas Jefferson Tone. Her son with Cornel Wilde is Cornel Wallace Wilde.
Platinum-blonde model-turned-bombshell of the 40s and 50s whose film career was enhanced by marriages to top films stars Franchot Tone and Cornel Wilde.
Cornel Wilde turned producer/director for several of his movies in the 1950s and tried to transform Wallace from sexpot to legit actress. She appeared exclusively for Wilde from 1953 on in a number of well-done potboilers.
Ex-stepmother of Wendy Wilde.
Is interred at Hollywood Forever, Los Angeles, California, in the Abbey of the Psalms, Sanctuary of Light.
Jean's mother was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 1954 while crossing a street.
Signed by Paramount but ill-used and feels like she "barely existed".
Among her many suitors between marriages were Howard Hughes, Ferruccio Caramelli, Bob Strong and Renzo Avanzo.
Daughter of John T. Walasek, an insurance salesman, and Mary Walasek (nee Sharkey).
She and husband Cornel Wilde are appointed guardians of Jean's 13-year-old sister, Karol Walasek, after the August 1954 hit-and-run death of their mother on a Los Angeles street.
In October 1962, she was injured while practicing for a horse riding part in the film Sword of Lancelot (1963). Her horse refused a jump, she fell off and suffered a fractured sacrum.
Sang the title song in the Wilde film Beach Red (1967).
She was 18 when she married the 36-year-old actor Franchot Tone. They later had a bitter divorce. She lost custody of their two children after he claimed she was romantically involved with shady mobster Johnny Stompanato (1925-1958), who later was stabbed to death in self defense by Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane. Amazingly, after their custody battle she and Tone went off and appeared together in the films The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949) and Jigsaw (1949). She re-won custody of the children in 1951, after her more stable marriage to Cornel Wilde.

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