Janis Paige

Star of Broadway and Hollywood from the 1940s, still performing into the 21st Century.
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Artist Biography

b. Donna Mae Tjaden, 16 September 1922, Tacoma, Washington, USA. Singing from early childhood, as soon as she left school Paige headed for Hollywood where she eventually found work at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II. Spotted and signed by Warner Bros., she made several films during the next few years, among them Bathing Beauty (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944), Of Human Bondage, Two Guys From Milwaukee and The Time, The Place And The Girl (all 1946), Romance On The High Seas (1948, UK title: It’s Magic), The House Across The Street (1949), and Two Gals And A Guy (1951). Dissatisfied with her film career, which was hampered by the studio favouring Doris Day for films that would have suited Paige, she went east and was a hit in the Broadway play Remains To Be Seen (1951), co-starring Jackie Cooper. She resumed her singing career, performing in cabaret. In 1954 she was cast as Babe in Broadway’s The Pajama Game, co-starring with John Raitt.

Back in Hollywood, she appeared in small but worthy roles in Silk Stockings (1957, with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse), and Please Don’t Eat The Daisies (1960), with Day, who took the role of Babe in the screen version of The Pajama Game. Paige continued in the theatre, mostly playing leads in summer stock productions of shows such as Annie Get Your Gun, Applause, Gypsy and Guys And Dolls. She was often on television, appearing in The Bob Hope Show in the 50s, and she played Jan Stewart in It’s Always Jan (1955). In the 60s and 70s she was in Wagon Train (1961), Burke’s Law and The Fugitive (both 1964), Columbo (1972), Lanigan’s Rabbi (1976/7), All In The Family (1976-78), Eight Is Enough (1977/8), Charlie’s Angels and The Rockford Files (both 1978), and Trapper John, M.D. (1979). In the 80s and 90s and beyond she was in Happy Days and Bret Maverick (both 1981), St. Elsewhere (1983), Capitol (1987), General Hospital and Mission: Impossible (both 1989), Santa Barbara (1990), Natural Causes (1994), Caroline In The City (1997) and Family Law (2001). Paige, who took her stage surname from her maternal grandmother and her first name after singing star Elsie Janis, was one of many stars interviewed for the 2003 documentary film, Broadway: The Golden Age, By The Legends Who Were There.