Obituary: Janis Carter

Janis Dremann (Janis Carter), actress: born Cleveland, Ohio 10 October 1913; married first Carl Prager (marriage dissolved 1951), 1956 Julius Stulman; died Durham, North Carolina 30 July 1994.

A TALL, blonde beauty who could be glacially haughty or stylishly witty, Janis Carter was a welcome presence in films of the Forties, whether starring as duplicitous seductresses in 'B' thrillers or vamping the hero as the 'other woman' of major melodramas and comedies.

Her cool, high-toned composure, suggesting darker passions under the surface, made her an ideal film noir actress, and among her finer roles were those in William Castle's Mark of the Whistler (1945), a doom-laden tale based on a Cornell Woolrich story, and Richard Wallace's Framed (1947, called Paula in Britain), in which she used her seductive charms in a plot to have the innocent drifter Glenn Ford take the blame for murder and larceny. In Douglas Sirk's Slightly French (1949), an amusing comedy which starred Dorothy Lamour as a honky-tonk performer being passed off as a Parisian belle, Carter displayed such flair as a wise-cracking socialite that it is a pity this aspect of her talent remained under-used.

Born Janis Dremann in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1913, she studied opera in New York but after failing an audition at the Metropolitan turned to the musical stage. She was a showgirl in two Cole Porter musicals, Dubarry was a Lady (1939) and Panama Hattie (1940), both produced by the composer Buddy DeSylva, who became a constant escort during this period. She also became a successful model, and when John Robert Powers formed his agency she was one of the original 10 Powers Girls.

Signed by Twentieth Century- Fox, she took the professional name Carter and made her film debut in Cadet Girl (1941), followed by six other 'B' movies. In Secret Agent of Japan (1942), released just four months after Pearl Harbor and advertised as 'the first film to tell the inside story of the war', she made a brief but telling impact as a sleekly gowned spy in a Shanghai nightclub passing secrets in her cigarette case to her fellow conspirator Lynn Bari. But Fox were grooming several young actresses, including Bari, and at the end of a year let Carter go. After small roles in MGM's I Married an Angel (1942) and UA's Lady of Burlesque (1943), she was signed by Columbia, where she played in farces (Miss Grant Takes Richmond, 1949, A Woman of Distinction, 1950), musicals (Swing Out the Blues, 1944), swashbucklers (The Fighting Guardsman, 1945) and romantic comedies (Together Again, 1944, One Way To Love, 1945), but primarily thrillers, including episodes of the studio's Boston Blackie and Lone Wolf series. She also made notable appearances in two films in the superior, bleakly cynical 'Whistler' series, Henry Levin's Night Editor (1946), in which she was a socialite having an illicit affair with a married man when they witness a murder, and I Love Trouble (1948), as a glamorous suspects being investigated by the private eye Franchot Tone.

In 1949 Carter moved to RKO, where she had an effective role seducing John Agar into embracing Communism in Howard Hughes's contribution to the Cold War, I Married a Communist (later retitled Woman on Pier 13). She was a femme fatale again in My Forbidden Past (1951), but after colourless roles in a John Wayne war movie, Flying Leathernecks (1951), and two westerns, Santa Fe (1951) and The Half-Breed (1952), she gave up films. Ironically, it was in her last film that she sung solo for the only time in her film career. For two years she hosted a popular television quiz show, Feather Your Nest, and in 1955 was featured in a television version of Panama Hattie.

Her first marriage, to the composer-musician Carl Prager, had ended in 1951 and in 1956 she married the shipping and lumber tycoon Julius Stulman. The couple kept three homes - an apartment in North Carolina, a penthouse in New York, where Carter could be found during the opera season, and a magnificent condominium in Longboat Key, Florida, described by her friend the actress Ann Savage as 'lush outside and luxe within'. She was a director of the Ringling Brothers Museum in Florida and was active on the boards of theatre and opera houses in the state.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy