Janis Paige, Broadway Baby and Movie & TV Star, Dies @ 101

June 3, 2024

Janis Paige, the leggy multi-talent known for her work in Broadway's The Pajama Game, films like Silk Stockings and as the sexy waitress who tempted Archie Bunker on All in the Family, died June 2, 2024.

Janis Paige (1922-2024) (Image via MGM)

She was 101.

Paige's passing was confirmed on her official Facebook page June 3 in a post that read, "We're very sad to report that Janis Paige died yesterday, peacefully at home in Los Angeles. She was 101 and lived a life fuller than she could have imagined. She was grateful for everything, which is why she said her memory was so good. Please keep her in your thoughts and watch her performances, read her book, tell her stories, for that is how she will live on in the minds and hearts of all, for generations to come. May her memory be for a blessing."

The dynamic performer, one of the last well-known names from Hollywood's Golden Age, was born September 16, 1922, in Tacoma, Washington, performed at the Hollywood Canteen in 1944, leading to a movie contract.

With Doris Day in Romance on the High Seas. Day later took Paige's The Pajama Game part when it was made into a movie. (Image via Warner Bros.)

She made her debut in the 1944 film Bathing Beauty, making just shy of 20 films in the early days, including Cheyenne (1947), Romance on the High Seas (1948) and Two Gals and a Guy (1951).

Paige also began what would wind up being a more than 50-year career on TV with The Plymouth Playhouse (1953).

Getting away from films, she made a stellar debut on Broadway in Remains to Be Seen (1951) and was sensational in The Pajama Game (1954).

Promoting The Pajama Game, Paige posed provocatively for Esquire's December 1954 issue wearing a fur coat, high heels and bikini bottoms — and bearing two large Christmas gifts in place of a top. The Ormond Gigli photo, printed as a foldout pinup, was an instant classic, but she lost the part she originated to Doris Day when it was made into a film later on.

The no-pajamas game (Image by Ormond Gigli)

Also during her break from films, Paige starred in her own sitcom, It's Always Jan (1955-1956), meaning she had been one of the oldest surviving TV leading ladies at the time of her death.

It's Always Jan lasted only one season. (Image via CBS)

She was called back to Hollywood for Silk Stockings (1957), Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960), Bachelor in Paradise (1961) and more, including The Caretakers (1963), which gave her a meaty role to play instead of calling only for singing-and-dancing sparkle.

Nobody puts one over on Goldie! (Image via NBC)

Paige settled into a busy career on the stage — she replaced Angela Lansbury in Mame in the late '60s, and toured with it — and in TV guest spots, such as her scene-stealing work as Goldie on a Season 1 episode of Columbo (1972).

She made three unforgettable appearances on All in the Family (1976 & 1978) and recurred on Trapper John, M.D. (1985-1986) and Santa Barbara (1990-1993).

From Bob Hope's Road to Hollywood (1983): Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), (1920-2005), Paige, Jill St. John (b. 1940), Martha Raye (1916-1994), Dorothy Lamour (1914-1996), Bob Hope (1903-2003), Lucille Ball (1911-1989), Dina Merrill (1923-2017), Jane Russell (1921-2011), Rhonda Fleming (1923-2020 & Martha Hyer (1924-2014) (Image via NBC)

She continued working on the stage, including cabaret, through the '80s, made her last film in 1994 and made one last TV appearance in 2001.

In 2017, Page joined the #MeToo movement with a dramatic story for The Hollywood Reporter, in which she accused late businessman Alfred Bloomingdale of attempted rape. "Even at 95, I remember everything," she said in the piece.

Paige was born to the stage. (Image courtesy of Pat Johnson)

Three years later, she published her memoir, Reading Between the Lines.

Paige was married three times. The first two ended in divorce, and the third ended when her husband Ray Gilbert — the 'Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" songwriter — died in 1976.

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