Jennifer Jayne

Hedda in 'William Tell'


Jennifer Jones (Jennifer Jayne), actress: born 14 November 1931; married 1958 Peter Mullins; died 23 April 2006.

During the late Fifties and early Sixties, Jennifer Jayne was a popular star of lightweight films and television, particularly in her regular role as Tell's wife, Hedda, in the TV series William Tell (1958-59). She had reddish-brown hair and her small mouth sometimes seemed set in a permanent pout.

Her real name was Jennifer Jones, which she altered in order to avoid confusion with the Hollywood actress of the same name. She was born in Yorkshire to theatrical parents; "it never occurred to me to do anything else", she said, than act. Her film début was a minor walk-on in Once a Jolly Swagman (1948), followed by The Blue Lamp (1949). Both of these starred Dirk Bogarde and, coincidentally, the mystery Black Widow, in which she appeared in 1951, featured Anthony Forwood, Bogarde's lifelong partner.

After guest appearances in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1956), The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956) and Sword of Freedom (1957), Jayne made logical casting for the next historical adventure series from the film-making division of Lew Grade's ATV, William Tell.

Seen now, the series has a charming naivety. With her hair dyed blonde, as Hedda, wife of the Swiss hero (Conrad Phillips), Jayne got to take part in several swordfights, something denied to heroines in similar series of that time. Near its completion, she married the series's art director, Peter Mullins, whose credits would include Alfie and several of the Pink Panther series. When Mullins went to work on Whiplash (1960), a forgotten attempt by Grade to stimulate TV production in Australia, Jayne was hurriedly flown over to play a kidnapped actress in an episode written by the future Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Jayne was a romantic lead in Raising the Wind (1961), set in a music academy and a "Carry On" in all but name, with largely the same cast and crew. In the same vein, she was the leading lady in a Norman Wisdom vehicle, On the Beat (1962), but her film career is better characterised by her association with the outstanding cinematographer Freddie Francis.

When Francis turned director, he cast her as a caring nurse in Hysteria (1964) for Hammer. Then came the first of Amicus Productions' horror anthologies, Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1964), with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee joined by the unlikely additions of Roy Castle, Alan Freeman and a pre-Hollywood Donald Sutherland; Jayne was in its last story, as Sutherland's vampire bride. Francis next used her as a victim of alien mind control in the brightly coloured and extremely silly They Came From Beyond Space (1967).

Unsurprisingly, given her other work, she did two episodes of Ivanhoe (1958), starring Roger Moore; seven years later, Moore got to raise his eyebrows at her, in a Paris composed of back projections and obvious studio sets, as the Saint.

Jayne became a regular, this time early weekend-evening swashbuckling for the BBC, in Further Adventures of the Musketeers (1967), starring Joss Ackland and Brian Blessed. She was given better acting opportunities with Girl of My Dreams (1966) for BBC2's Theatre 625, written by Hugh Whitemore, with a young Edward Fox; Everyone's Rich Except Us (1967), a "Wednesday Play" satirising corrupt businessmen; and End of Story (1969, for YTV), about a hack TV writer of action dramas (Peter Barkworth) given the chance to create something more insightful.

In common with many actors, Jayne's own career dovetailed into writing scripts. Under the pseudonym Jay Fairbank, she wrote, and Francis directed, Witness Madness, a portmanteau in the Amicus tradition. However, the movie's producers insisted on, in Francis's words, "horrifying" it and retitling it Tales that Witness Madness (1973), due to Amicus's success with Francis's Tales from the Crypt.

Jayne and Francis then attempted to rescue Count Downe, a would-be horror-comedy vehicle for Ringo Starr (who also produced) and Harry Nilsson; according to Francis the production was utter chaos and, although retitled Son of Dracula (1974), it was never completed, or publicly shown, until released on video 10 years later in the United States only.

Jennifer Jayne's last work was again for Francis, as a barmaid in his The Doctor and the Devils (1985), a version of the Burke and Hare story deriving from a script written by Dylan Thomas 40 years earlier.

Gavin Gaughan

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before