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Jane Del Amo

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DEL AMO, Jane Wife of deaceased Jaime del Amo, also known as Jane Randolph, Queen of the B movies until 1949 - best known for starring in the original "Cat People" October 30, 1915-May 4, 2009 She is survived by her only daughter, Cristina del Amo. My mother passed away in Switzerland on May 4, 2009. Up until the end, she led a full life socially, and strived to do as much as possible physically: although frail, she took her daily walks, did her exercises, and generally kept as active as possible. Her failing eye sight made it difficult at times for her to pursue three of her passions: reading the daily newspapers and painting her wonderful landscapes, not to mention writing her newsy letters. Luckily there was the phone! Recently, she fell and broke her hip, was operated on at the Saanen Hospital, and (as one person described to me) "held court looking beautiful for her many visitors from her bed there". Saanen is the village next to the village of Gstaad, where she lived part of the year in her Chalet Jacriamo, so named after herself (Jane), myself (Cristina) and our family name (del Amo). Characteristically, for those of us who knew her well, after her hip operation, she got up without calling the nurse, and fell, breaking her other hip. She did come out of the operation for a short while, and then passed on peacefully, having previously requested that no extreme measures for reanimation or life support be used. At the time, unfortunately, I was here in California, and for various reasons have had to remain here. The above description I received from her care giver Mr. Bryan Peters. He also described to me how the Saanen Hospital prepared my mother's body for him to view before taking to the mortuary: they had made her face look beautiful, he said radiant, and carefully combed her hair, putting flowers all around her face, and an orchid on her heart. I am forever thankful to him for sharing all of this with me. My mother was born in Youngstown, Ohio, daughter of Cora and George Roemer, a famous designer of steel mills, many of her lovely warm family initially also involved in various aspects of that industry. My mother soon showed the independent spirit which characterised her entire life, by learning to drive at an early age, (illegally sitting on her father's lap!), and as she often told me, daydreaming in class of being a pilot. However, she expressed this spirit in two other ways: first by becoming a famous actress, and then marrying one of the scions of Spain and California, Jaime del Amo, adopted son of Gregorio del Amo and his wife, Susana Dominguez, of the Rancho San Pedro, the first land grant in California by the King of Spain. She married my father, Jaime del Amo, in 1949. They moved to Spain, although they came back to the United States, and particularly to California, on a regular basis, for pleasure and business. Pleasure before business! Even if during those years my father did preside over the land sales of his share of the Dominguez Land Grant, which would set the basis for the building of the del Amo Shopping Center, at the time the first large shopping center in the world. This sale set the basis for us to move to Switzerland, which I consider my home of the heart. My mother lived an extraordinary life by any standards, going on Safari in the 1950's, and bringing back not only trophies of the many wild animals she shot, but an extraordinary film record she herself took. The most memorable piece, to me seeing it as a little girl, was the sequence showing the elephant she had shot being gutted and native men actually dissapearing inside the viscera! Fear not, the rest of the reels are magnificent color images of her in that wonderful African wilderness, definitely for the family archives, maybe even for other ones too. My mother also attended and/or hosted wondrous socialite parties, soirees, luncheons and other gatherings of the International Jet Set, be it in Badrutt's Palace Hotel in Saint Moritz, Switzerland, where she and I skied, or other places of equal stature all over the world. She also had many notables as guests in her various homes, such as Pricess Soraya at L'Oiseau Bleu, in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, in the South of France, in her early days after leaving Iran. I have wonderful pictures of the two of them, dressed in the formal Spanish dresses, during La Feria de Sevilla, in Spain. They remained close friends until Soraya's death. Despite this constant immersion in the International Jet Set, and also into the various high realms of various countries (for example, we were shown around Iran, she and I, circa 1963, by Ahmed Shafiq, husband of the Sha's twin sister Ashraff, and I did play with the children of the Duque de Alba, Carlos being now the current Duque de Alba!), my Mother also spent time in less socially lofty echelons, and was equally charming and at ease. Recounting her life will take various forms, one of them being my book. She was well loved and respected everywhere, and is missed by all. I had accompanied my mother a while back to choose the space at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park, the Mortuary, where she wished her ashes to be placed here in California, as well as to her Sunday service, at the Westwood Presbyterian Church, where she wished Reverend Orr to celebrate her memorial service within the Congregation she so loved and respected. Due to the fact that she died in Switzerland, this funeral and depositing of her ashes has not yet been able to occur, but is pending. This explains the tardiness of this obituary, and my decision, as her only daughter, to not only write this obituary, but to suggest the following: that wherever we may find ourselves, tomorrow, Monday May 25th, Memorial Day, we take some time, in each of our own special chosen way, to spiritually connect in remembering and honoring this wonderful woman, your friend, my mother. Jane del Amo. For anyone wishing to reach me, you may email me at [email protected], please writing JdACdA in Subject.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on May 24, 2009
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