Gloria Jean is probably best remembered today for her appearance with W C Fields in the film Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.
31 Facts About Gloria Jean
Gloria Jean was born Gloria Jean Schoonover in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Ferman and Eleanor Schoonover; her ancestry was Pennsylvania Dutch.
The family moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Gloria Jean sang with Paul Whiteman's orchestra on radio broadcasts.
Gloria Jean was being trained as a coloratura soprano when her voice teacher, Leah Russel, took her to an audition held by Universal Pictures movie producer Joe Pasternak in 1938.
Gloria Jean held auditions for a film called The Under-Pup.
Gloria Jean told Pasternak she could not sing as the piano was out of tune.
Up against hundreds of others, Gloria Jean won the audition.
The film did well and Gloria Jean became instantly popular with moviegoers.
Gloria Jean co-starred with Bing Crosby in If I Had My Way which was written, produced and directed by David Butler.
Gloria Jean then starred in the well-received A Little Bit of Heaven, which reunited her with many from the Under-Pup cast, including Nan Grey; the male lead was Robert Stack who appeared opposite Durbin several times.
Universal recognized the need for musical entertainment during wartime, and Gloria Jean became one of the studio's most prolific performers; during the war years she made 14 feature films.
Gloria Jean supported The Andrews Sisters in What's Cookin' then appeared with Donald O'Connor, Jane Frazee, Robert Paige and Peggy Ryan in Get Hep to Love.
Gloria Jean was in Moonlight in Vermont with Ray Malone.
Gloria Jean was cast, in her first dramatic performance, as a blind girl in one of four vignettes for Julien Duvivier's Flesh and Fantasy.
Gloria Jean's performance won raves at the film's advance preview, and her segment was the best-received of the four.
Gloria Jean was then considered as the singing ingenue in a concurrent Abbott and Costello comedy, It Ain't Hay but was considered too old.
Gloria Jean resumed her movie career as a freelance performer appearing in United Artists, Columbia Pictures, and Allied Artists productions, the best-known being Copacabana with Groucho Marx.
Gloria Jean began appearing on TV shows like Hollywood Theatre Time, Rebound, Death Valley Days, Hallmark Hall of Fame, The Colgate Comedy Hour, Your Favorite Story, Annie Oakley, and Lux Video Theatre.
Gloria Jean has appeared in feature films, albeit low-budget ones.
Wonder Valley, produced on location in Arkansas, was Gloria Jean's first color movie and is a lost film.
Gloria Jean enjoyed the experience and occasionally ran the restaurant in her employer's absence.
Veteran Hollywood producer Edward Finney, himself a Gloria Jean fan, saw one of these reports and hired her to star in the lightweight comedy Laffing Time.
Jerry Lewis read that Gloria Jean was working in a restaurant, and signed her for a singing role in his latest production, The Ladies Man.
Newspaper columnist Bob Thomas reported that Gloria Jean was engaged to a pilot, but he was killed in the Korean War.
In December 1991, Gloria Jean was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award, recognizing her achievements within the film industry as a juvenile performer.
Gloria Jean participated in various nostalgia and autograph shows, meeting fans and displaying memorabilia.
Gloria Jean had always retained her fan following, and corresponded steadily with friends and admirers for the rest of her life.
Gloria Jean's films are beginning to receive new exposure: If I Had My Way has been restored to its original length and issued on DVD, followed by the DVD release of Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.
Gloria Jean died of heart failure and pneumonia on August 31,2018 in a hospital near her home in Mountain View, Hawaii.
Gloria Jean is survived by her daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.
Gloria Jean's authorized biography, Gloria Jean: A Little Bit of Heaven, was published in 2005.