LOS ANGELES (AP) - Janet Blair, the vivacious actress
who appeared in several 1940s musicals and comedies, then turned to television
and stars like Sid Caesar and Henry Fonda, has died. She was 85.
Blair died Monday from complications of pneumonia, her children Amanda and Andrew Mayo said.
"She was just a lot of fun and all about life," Amanda Mayo said. "She was an incredible talent and actress. They just don't make them like her anymore."
Blair languished in second-rate pictures until Rosalind Russell recommended her for the title role in the comedy "My Sister Eileen." She won praise from critics, and her roles quickly improved.
She appeared opposite George Raft in the gangster movie
"Broadway" and costarred with Cary Grant and a dancing caterpillar in the 1944 comedy-fantasy "Once Upon a Time." She was the love interest in "The Fabulous Dorseys," starring bandleaders Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, and appeared opposite Red Skelton in the 1946 sleeper hit "The Fuller Brush Man."
But after the 1948 swashbuckler "The Black Arrow," Columbia dropped her and she turned her back on Hollywood, moving on to theater and television.
"All I got were princess parts," she said then. "A girl gets tired of being a princess all of the time."
From the late 1940s through the mid-1950s, she appeared in such Golden Age of Television shows as The Ford Theatre Hour, the Philco Television Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre and The United States Steel Hour.
She returned to movies in 1957, starring opposite Skelton again, in "Public Pigeon No. 1."
She made only a handful of films after that, including "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band" opposite Fred MacMurray and Buddy Ebsen in 1968.
She joined television's landmark "Caesar's Hour" in 1956. She left after just one season, complaining she was "not given the opportunity I had been led to believe I'd get."
She returned to series television in 1972 as Fonda's wife in "The Smith Family."
She is survived by her two children.