Veteran TV actress -- no, better make that TV, Movie and Stage actress -- the classy and beautiful Anne Jeffreys celebrates her 92nd birthday today. She was born on January 26, 1923 in North Carolina. From her early days as a teenage model in New York to her illustrious musical stage career including frequent forays into grand opera, Anne captivated audiences with her graceful versatility. Her stage career brought her to Hollywood in the early 1940s where she was signed by RKO Studios and starred in a long list of movie role for them. Soon she added the burgeoning medium of TV to her resume and began her long and successful status as one of television's most popular leading ladies. Anne Jeffreys epitomizes the kind of talented professional that's a rare thing today.
Always glamorous on the red carpet when she frequently still takes in theater or other special events in Hollywood, Anne Jeffreys has always had an air of intelligent sophistication about her. This quality was never better captured than in her starring role in the TV situation comedy Topper which began in 1953. One of early TV's popular skeins, Topper featured Anne appearing opposite her real-life husband, the equally sophisticated and suavely handsome actor Robert Sterling, as they played George and Marion Kerby, fun-loving ghosts with plenty of partying left in them. The Jeffreys-Sterling match was a romance born of the profession; both were starring in plays at neighboring Broadway theaters when they met and fell in love. Topper also featured veteran actor Leo G. Carroll as Cosmo Topper, the very proper gentleman who was haunted by the Kerbys, with Lee Patrick as his wife Henrietta who couldn't see the ghosts, leading to much merriment.
Here is the pilot episode of Topper:
Here's another episode, one of several which are available on YouTube -- no official DVD release has been made yet of the series:
Topper lasted two seasons for a total of 78 half-hour episodes. Those of us who've been watching TV for a long time remember it as a favorite in syndication for many years. After the end of Topper, Anne continued her busy stage and TV career; she and Robert teamed up again in 1958 for a go at another sitcom, this one entitled Love That Jill which debuted in January 1958 but only lasted for thirteen episodes.
In addition to all her guest-starring roles on many of the most successful TV series of the past fifty years, Anne also co-starred in recurring roles on several shows, including Falcon Crest, Finder of Lost Loves, The Delphi Bureau, General Hospital and Baywatch.
Here are a few Anne Jeffreys appearances to enjoy -- first, the opening credits for her 1984 series Finder of Lost Loves:
Anne and Robert were the mystery stars on What's My Line? in 1957:
Anne played a saloon singer in this Bonanza episode which also starred a young Wayne Newton:
Anne made a guest appearance on the show Hotel, here is a brief clip:
For a look at some of her interesting earlier movie roles -- let's start with this trailer for her 1945 film Dillinger starring the uniquely intense actor Lawrence Tierney:
How about Anne as Tess Trueheart in 1945's Dick Tracy, Detective?
How about a clip from her silly but scary movie Zombies on Broadway from 1945?
How about another Tess Trueheart portrayal in 1946's Dick Tracy vs. Cueball?
Anne singing a number from 1945's Sing Your Way Home:
Anne in a rare "soundie" jukebox video from 1941:
Anne and Frank Sinatra from 1944's Step Lively:
Be sure to check out YouTube for a slew of Anne Jeffreys appearances at various events around Hollywood, such as these:
Anne Jeffreys has been a widow since her beloved husband Robert passed away in May of 2006, but her continued joie de vivre is testament to the love they shared. She is truly one of Hollywood's Great Ladies.
We wish her a very Happy Birthday today!