Janis Paige is the consummate entertainer, whose career spans every facet of show business, from film and theater to television and nightclubs. She's made her mark from Hollywood to Broadway and countless cities in between, stealing the hearts of millions in hundreds of performances and appearances over seven decades.
Her latest act is a one-woman show about her life and career, in which Ms. Paige shares favorite songs and recounts tales from her lifetime in the limelight -- from growing up during the Great Depression to achieving her dream of Hollywood stardom to the personal and professional triumphs, losses and laughs of a long and highly successful career in the entertainment industry. The insightful and down-to-earth Ms. Paige takes her audience along for a revealing, poignant, witty and unforgettable journey.
Ms. Paige, born Donna Mae Tjaden, began her entertainment career at the tender age of 5, when she sang in amateur contests in her beloved hometown of Tacoma, Washington. A natural beauty with verve and personality, Ms. Paige had big talent and dreams to match. After successful performances in high school, her mother moved the family to Hollywood so Ms. Paige could pursue a career in entertainment. In a turn of events worthy of a Tinseltown screenplay, her big break came when -- still a teen -- she was asked to fill in for a singer at the storied Hollywood Canteen, the motion picture industry's club for World War II servicemen. After performing two songs, she was approached by the assistant to movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, who asked her to come to the studio the very next day. Mr. Mayer immediately signed her to a Metro Goldwyn Mayer contract, launching her decades-long career on screen and stage. Janis Paige, beautiful, statuesque Hollywood starlet, was born.
She debuted in MGM's Bathing Beauty, but enjoyed her first major role in Warner Bros.' smash hit Hollywood Canteen, which celebrated the vaunted club and featured nearly the entire stable of Warner Bros. actors and numerous big name entertainers. Then under exclusive contract to Warner Bros., her next role in Of Human Bondage solidified her rise to stardom. Over the next five years she became one of the studio's leading stars.
Ms. Paige's long film career includes her scene-stealing turn opposite Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in Silk Stockings, and a flashy role in the comedy Please Don't Eat the Daises. She co-starred in films including Bachelor in Paradise, Romance on the High Seas, The Caretakers, and Follow the Boys, Welcome to Hard Times, starring opposite film greats like Bob Hope, Doris Day, Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, David Niven and Henry Fonda.
Ms. Paige also pursued a range of opportunities on and off Broadway, in nightclubs and on television. Her first Broadway hit came in 1951, when she starred opposite Jackie Cooper in the Lindsay and Crouse comedy, Remains to Be Seen. Three years later, she returned to Broadway in the Tony Award-winning musical Pajama Game, followed by Meredith Willson's Here's Love. She then garnered rave reviews after replacing Angela Lansbury in the smash hit musical, Mame. Ms. Paige went on to wow national and international audiences in roles in diverse productions including Born Yesterday, Desk Set, Lovers and Other Strangers, Annie Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, Sweet Charity, Company, Ballroom, South Pacific, Hello Dolly, Natural Causes, and the first international company of Applause in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ms. Paige has enjoyed a highly successful cabaret career, headlining major nightclubs and supper clubs around the country with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Alan King, Joe E. Lewis, Milton Berle, Liberace, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Dinah Shore, and many more, in major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Milwaukee.
As a long-time performer in Bob Hope's USO shows, Ms. Paige entertained U.S. Armed Service men and women stationed in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Thailand, and the Bahamas, affording expression of her fervent patriotism. She also starred in several of Hope's NBC specials, the first of which was in 1950, marking the first color broadcast from East to West coasts.
Ms. Paige has always continued to win new fans through her many television roles. She starred in her own series, It's Always Jan (1955-1956), co-starred with Richard Crenna and Bernadette Peters in All's Fair (1976), starred as Art Carney's wife in the Mystery Movie Theater series Lanigan's Rabbi (1977), as Dick Van Patten's sister "Auntie Vi" on the beloved family series Eight Is Enough (1977-1980), and the sitcom Baby Makes Five (1983) starring Peter Scolari of Bosom Buddies fame. Her guest turn on All In The Family (1976-1978) as the sultry waitress who almost tempted Archie Bunker into an extra marital affair created such a stir with viewers that she was called back to reprise the role. In the last season of Trapper John, M.D. (1986), she played a recurring role as the beautiful and mature hospital administrator, Catherine Hackett. For three decades, Ms. Paige appeared in countless guest starring roles on classic hits shows, including Columbo, Police Story, Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Hawaii Five-O, Alice, Mission Impossible, Caroline in the City, Legacy, and Night Court.
In 1987, Ms. Paige forged ahead into new television territory by creating the role of Lauren Clegg on the highly successful soap opera, Capitol. After a stint on General Hospital as a recipient of a heart transplant, she recreated the role of Minx Lockridge on Santa Barbara, and remained with the show until the show went off the air in 1993.
Ms. Paige was married for almost 14 years to Ray Gilbert, an Academy Award-winning songwriter, composer and author best known for his Oscar-winning song, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah from Disney's 1948 film Song of the South. After Gilbert's death in 1976, Ms. Paige inherited his Ipanema Music Corporation, which he founded with the illustrious Brazilian musician, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and many of the songs he wrote with Jobim. She also became heir to Gilbertís seat on the Songwriters Guild of America, where she remained for approximately 25 years. The experiences afforded Ms. Paige newfound business acumen and the ability to protect her late husband's legacy through his popular songs "You Belong to My Heart," "Sooner or Later," "Whistle Your Way Back Home," and "Casey at the Bat," among many others.Ms. Paige's other interests include collecting art, fine wine, needlework, exercise, and a love of animals, especially her Jack Russell Terriers Little Lulu and the late Bubbles, Pinkie Lee, and Rosebud. Ms. Paige has enjoyed a lifetime passion for horsesfirst inspired as a child by the legendary thoroughbred racer Seabiscuit, whose rags-to-riches story earning the coveted title of "Thoroughbred Hero of the Great Depression" captured her heart. She has owned and shown hunters and jumpers, and is the proud possessor of many ribbons, won with her championship hunters, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and Adam.