LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Private funeral services are pending for Jayne Meadows, who appeared in films such as “Lady in the Lake” and “Dark Delusion” and was married to comedian and original “Tonight Show” host Steve Allen for 46 years.
Meadows died Sunday of natural causes, surrounded by family at her home in Encino at age 95, her son, Bill Allen, CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., told City News Service.
“We were sitting, reminiscing in recent days, although she wasn’t too conscious on the last day,” Allen said. “She was talking about how grateful she was to be at home, knowing her time was coming.”
Allen told CNS his mother was a frequent volunteer and supporter of the Los Angeles Mission, and she reflected in recent days about the privilege of having a home and family — a privilege that patrons of the mission do not share.
“She thought of all those who don’t have that good fortune,” he said.
Born in China, Meadows was a successful actress on Broadway before turning to Hollywood. She appeared opposite Katherine Hepburn in “Undercurrent” and with Gregory Peck in “David and Bathsheba.” While her film career never took off, she became a regular on television game shows such as “What’s My Line?” and “Password.”
Meadows was a frequent guest star on a variety of television shows, including “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Medical Center,” “Love, American Style” and “The Red Skelton Hour.”
She was married for three years to screenwriter Milton Krims, but they divorced in 1952. She married Steve Allen in 1954, and the couple stayed together until his death in 2000.
She often shared the small screen with Allen, notably on PBS’ “Meeting of Minds.”
Meadows was also her husband’s biggest supporter. In 1989, she took the stage at a Los Angeles gala sponsored by the Museum of Television and Radio and loudly lashed out at organizers because a video montage they compiled of television history included “Tonight Show” clips of Johnny Carson and Jack Paar — but not Steve Allen. When she finished, Allen walked to the stage, smiled meekly and said, “Hell hath no fury like a woman whose husband has been scorned.”
“She was so fiercely protective” of her husband, Bill Allen told CNS. He said the head of the museum felt so bad about the slight that the museum organized a six-month retrospective of Allen’s career.
He said his famous parents both put their children ahead of their careers, giving up movie roles and personal appearances when they would conflict with family needs. He said his father coached his Little League team, and Jayne Meadows would cook hot dogs in the snack stand.
Meadows’ younger sister, Audrey, starred with Jackie Gleason on “The Honeymooners” and died in 1996.
Jayne Meadows is survived by her son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren, along with three stepsons.
In lieu of flowers, Bill Allen asked that donations be made to the Los Angeles Mission.