Janis Paige: Hollywood and Broadway actress who danced with Fred Astaire dies | Ents & Arts News

Janis Paige, a popular Hollywood and Broadway actress who danced with Fred Astaire, has died aged 101.

Paige also toured with US comedy giant Bob Hope during her career which continued into her 80s.

She died of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles on Sunday, her long-time friend Stuart Lampert said on Monday.

Paige made her Broadway debut opposite Jackie Cooper in mystery comedy Remains To Be Seen in 1951, and appeared with John Raitt in smash hit musical The Pajama Game three years later.

In 1957 she appeared opposite iconic dancer Astaire in the film Silk Stockings.

The movie is famous for her and Astaire spoofing new-fangled movie gimmicks in the Cole Porter number Stereophonic Sound, including swinging from a chandelier.

“I was one mass of bruises. I didn’t know how to fall. I didn’t know how to get down on a table – I didn’t know how to save myself because I was never a classic dancer,” she told the Miami Herald in 2016.

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Paige would go on to appear in a string of movies in the 1960s, including the Hope comedy Bachelor In Paradise, the Doris Day comedy Please Don’t Eat The Daisies and the Richard Thorpe-directed film Follow The Boys.

She also supplied glamour for Hope’s Christmas visits to US troops in Cuba and the Caribbean in 1960, Japan and South Korea in 1962, and Vietnam in 1964.

Paige also sang in clubs with Sammy Davis Jr, Alan King, Dinah Shore and Perry Como.

In 1968, she replaced Angela Lansbury in the New York production of Mame on Broadway and toured with the show in 1969. She also toured in Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, Born Yesterday and The Desk Set.

Her last time on Broadway was in 1984’s Alone Together.

In May 2003, Paige resumed entertaining after a long absence. She opened a show she called The Third Act at San Francisco’s Plush Room, telling stories about Astaire, Frank Sinatra and others and singing tunes from her films and stage musicals.

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Janis Paige with Bob Hope entertaining troops in Saigon, South Vietnam in 1964 Pic: AP
Janis Paige with Bob Hope entertaining troops in Saigon, South Vietnam in 1964 Pic: AP

In 2018, she added her voice to the MeToo movement, alleging an assault when she was 22 by the late department store heir Alfred Bloomingdale.

“I could feel his hands, not only on my breasts, but seemingly everywhere. He was big and strong, and I began to fight, kick, bite and scream,” she wrote. “At 95, time is not on my side, and neither is silence. I simply want to add my name and say, ‘Me too’.”

The actress, who grew up in Tacoma, Washington, was born Donna May Tjaden but adopted her grandfather’s name of Paige.

She took her first name from Elsie Janis, famed for entertaining troops in the First World War.

Paige had two brief marriages, to San Francisco restaurateur Frank Martinelli and writer-producer Arthur Stander.

In 1962 she married songwriter Ray Gilbert, who won an Oscar for the song Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da from Disney’s Song Of The South.

He died in 1976, and she assumed management of his music company.


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