Jane Randolph

Jane Randolph
Jane Randolph

Jane Randolph was born in 1915 in Youngstown, Ohio.   In 1942 she was given a contract with RKO Studios and made “Highways by Night”.   She is best known for her roles ih the classics’ “Cat People” and “Curse of the Cat People” both which starred Simone Simon.   She died in Switzerland in 2009.

“Guardian” obituary by Ronald Bergan:

Hollywood film star known for her role as Alice in Cat People

Ronald Bergan

Late at night, an attractive woman is walking home alone. The sound of her high heels echoes down the deserted, shadowy streets. She hears footsteps behind her. Terrified, she quickens her pace. A tree sways menacingly in the breeze. There is a sudden hissing noise. It is the sound of doors opening on a bus. The relieved woman hops on to it. This eerie sequence is from Jacques Tourneur’s classic noir Cat People (1942), and the woman was played by Jane Randolph, who has died aged 93.

Later in the film, Randolph goes for a swim in the indoor pool at her club. Again, she is alone. She hears what seems like the growling of some feline beast. She quickly dives into the pool and treads water. The light reflected from the surface of the pool causes unsettling patterns to creep along the walls. She screams for help. When she gets out of the pool, she discovers that her dressing gown has been torn to threads.   What made these scenes so effective was the suggestion of horror rather than its depiction (a speciality of the producer Val Lewton), and the fact that Alice, played superbly by Randolph, is not a timid person, but an intelligent, level-headed, liberated woman. She is the audience’s surrogate – her screams are our screams. The blonde Randolph is the representative of normality, the antithesis of her nemesis, the mysterious, dark-haired cat-woman (Simone Simon).   Inevitably, out of the 20 films Randolph made between 1941 and 1948, Cat People stands out. This was further stressed by her appearance in the Lewton-produced The Curse of the Cat People (1944), the quasi-sequel in which Randolph played the same character, now married and the mother of a young girl who has an invisible friend, the “ghost” of the cat-woman.

Born Jane Roemer in Youngstown, Ohio, to a steel-mill designer and his wife, she went to Hollywood in 1939 to study at the director Max Reinhardt’s school of acting. Two years later, aged 26, she was given a contract by Warner Bros, which sent her to its talent-grooming school, but gave her only bit parts in four movies. Randolph’s film career proper began in 1942 at RKO, for which she made five films, including Cat People.

In her first film for the studio, she landed the female lead as Marcia Brooks, the intrepid fashion reporter on the scent of a crime in The Falcon’s Brother (1942). The fourth in the enjoyable Falcon series, it was the last starring George Sanders, who was then replaced by his real-life lookalike, soundalike brother, Tom Conway. It was followed by The Falcon Strikes Back (1943), with Randolph as the same character but this time as Conway’s girlfriend, proving she could hold her own with both brothers.   Around the same time, Randolph became the first pin-up for Yank, the weekly magazine of the US Army, and posed for one of two humans used for the ice-skating sequence in Bambi (1942).   After leaving RKO, Randolph, as a freelance, found herself in several B pictures: supporting the Bowery Boys in In Fast Company (1946), Hopalong Cassidy in Fool’s Gold (1947), and Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). The best of the bunch was Anthony Mann’s Railroaded! (1947), in which Randolph plays a sultry femme fatale, who gets caught up in a fight with pure Sheila Ryan.   In 1948, Randolph retired from show business when she married the business- man Jaime del Amo. The couple spent much of their time in Spain. After her husband’s death, Randolph returned to Los Angeles and kept a home in Switzerland, where she died.

She is survived by her daughter, Cristina.

The above “Guardian” obituary can also be accessed online here.


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