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Jean Brooks Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (5)

Overview (4)

Born in Houston, Texas, USA
Died in Richmond, California, USA  (hepatic encephalopathy)
Birth NameRuby M. Kelly
Height 5' 4½" (1.64 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The fourth and youngest child of Horace and Robina Kelly, Jean Brooks spent her early years in her native Texas before relocating to Costa Rica with her mother after her father's death. Her time in Costa Rica enabled her to become fluent in Spanish, and she began her professional career as a singer with Enric Madriguera and Orchestra in New York City. She had a small role in the New York City-filmed The Crime of Doctor Crespi (1935) and the second lead in a state play, "Name Your Poison" (1938), with Lenore Ulric. She was signed by an independent film production company that had gone under by the time she got to Hollywood. She spent several years at Universal as a leading lady in "B" pictures, including several Johnny Mack Brown westerns, but her option was dropped in late 1941. By this time she had married writer (later director) Richard Brooks and, with a certain Broadway hoofer having just signed at MGM, dropped the Kelly and became Jean Brooks. She signed with RKO, where film buffs know her for her three appearances for cult producer Val Lewton, particularly her stunning performance as a haunted devil worshiper in The Seventh Victim (1943).

Her clipped delivery and intense, forceful acting style made her a promising bet for stardom, but RKO lost interest in her by mid-'44 and her roles got gradually smaller until she was dropped in 1946. She and Brooks divorced (his later studio biographies omitted her name as one of his ex-wives). For many years she was listed as a "Lost Player" championed in several magazine articles by writer Doug McClelland. She was eventually located in San Francisco, where she had moved after her film career petered out, and was employed as a classified ad solicitor on the "San Francisco Examiner" newspaper. She had married a printer named Thomas Leddy. Her death at the Kaiser Hospital in Richmond, California, in 1963 of complications resulting from cirrhosis marked a sad ending for a stylish and talented performer who didn't get the breaks she deserved, both personally and professionally.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: jims@crusaid.org.uk

Spouse (3)

William Douglas Lansford (1946 - 1956) ( divorced)
Richard Brooks (1941 - 1944) ( divorced)
Thomas H. Leddy (195? - 25 November 1963) ( her death)

Trivia (5)

Bore a striking resemblance to Carolyn Jones, who played Morticia in the TV series The Addams Family (1964).
Appeared in eight films with Tom Conway.
She died on the same day that President John F. Kennedy's funeral was held. Newspaper and television coverage that day focused almost entirely on Kennedy's funeral, so her death received little notice at the time.
In the last 15 years of her life, Jean suffered from an eating disorder and in the last 5 years from Laennec's cirrhosis caused by alcoholism. Brooks died on November 25, 1963 in Richmond at the age of 47. In 1964 she was cremated and her ashes scattered over the sea.
Born Ruby Kelly and wanting to avoid confusion with actress Ruby Keeler, she began her acting career under the name Jeanne Kelly. In Spanish-language films, she was known as Robina Duarte. When dancer Gene Kelly began acting in 1942, she changed her name once again and became Jean Brooks, using the name from her recent marriage to writer Richard Brooks.

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