Comet Over Hollywood is doing a mini-series of “Classics in the Carolinas.” I’ll be spotlighting classic movie related topics in South Carolina (my home state) and North Carolina (where I currently live).
With a distinct, squeaky voice and playing determined character, actress Jean Arthur was a top leading lady of the 1930s and 1940s.
Starting her film career in 1923, she played minor roles or unremarkable characters. It wasn’t until 69 films and shorts later and signing contract with Columbia that she made her break in “The Whole Town’s Talking” (1935), co-starring Edward G. Robinson in a dual role. After this film, Arthur co-starred with Hollywood’s top leading men including John Barrymore, William Powell and Herbert Marshall. There was no doubt Arthur was a star when Frank Capra cast her in two of his films, “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” (1936) and “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” (1939).
With 95 credits to her name, Arthur retired from acting after the film “Shane” (1953). Arthur only made two other TV or film appearance: on an episode of “Gunsmoke” in 1965 and a short-lived “The Jean Arthur Show” in 1966 which only lasted 12 episodes. She also was a guest on Merv Griffin’s talk show in 1973.
After retiring from films, Jean Arthur went the route of teaching. First, she taught at Vassar in New York and then became an acting instructor in North Carolina.