Stage, Screen and TV Star Janet Blair Dies at 86

February 21
2:47 PM 2007

Theatre, film and TV actress Janet Blair has died at the age of 86.  She passed away of complications from pneumonia at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica on February 19th.

Blair was born Martha Jean Lafferty in Altoona, PA on April 23rd, 1921.  The actress, who began her career as a big band singer, signed with Columbia Pictures in the early '40s, where notable roles included Eileen in My Sister Eileen (opposite Rosalind Russell as Ruth) and Broadway.  Other film credits included Once Upon a Time (opposite Cary Grant), Something to Shout About, Tonight and Every Night (starring Rita Hayworth), The Fabulous Dorseys and The Black Arrow.

Blair played Nellie Forbush in a touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific; she starred in that musical for over 3 years, and claimed to never have missed a performance.  She was also seen in a national tour of Mame, with Bells Are Ringing and Follies among other theatre credits.

She also starred on Broadway in the 1953 play A Girl Can Tell, by F. Hugh Herbert.  It ran for 60 performances at the Royale Theatre.

Her TV credits included "The Ford Theatre Hour," "The United States Steel Hour," "A Connecticut Yankee," "One Touch of Venus" (in which she played the title role), "The Chevy Mystery Show," "The Outer Limits," "Destry," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat," and "Murder, She Wrote."  The latter marked her last TV appearance.

Her second husband was producer-director Nick Mayo.  She is survived by their two children, Amanda and Andrew Mayo.

Photo - Janet Blair at the Stork Club

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