Jane Greer was a film and television actress who was perhaps best known for her role as femme fatale Kathie Moffat in the 1947 film noir Out of the Past.
The five-foot five Greer began life as Bettejane Greer in Washington, D.C. In 1940, aged 15, Greer suffered from a facial palsy, which paralyzed the left side of her face. She recovered, but it is speculated that the condition contributed to her “patented look” and “a calm, quizzical gaze and an enigmatic expression that would later lead RKO to promote her as ‘the woman with the Mona Lisa smile’.” She claimed that the facial exercises used to overcome the paralysis taught her how to convey human emotion. A beauty-contest winner and professional model from her teens, Greer began her show business career as a big band singer.
Howard Hughes spotted Greer modeling on the cover of Life magazine of June 8, 1942 and sent her to Hollywood to become an actress. She married Rudy Vallee, her senior by 22 years, in 1943. Hughes lent out the actress to RKO to star in many films, including Dick Tracy, Out of the Past, They Won’t Believe Me, and the comedy/suspense film The Big Steal, alongside Out of the Past co-star Robert Mitchum. Hughes refused to let her work for a time; when she finally began film acting again, she appeared in You’re in the Navy Now, The Prisoner of Zenda, Run for the Sun, and The Man of a Thousand Faces. In 1984, she was cast in Against All Odds, a remake of Out of the Past, as the mother of the character she had played in 1947.
Noteworthy roles in television included guest appearances on episodes of numerous shows over the decades, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bonanza, Quincy, M.E., Murder, She Wrote, and a 1975 gig with Peter Falk and Robert Vaughn in an episode of Columbo titled Troubled Waters. She even got to make fun of Out of the Past in a parody with Robert Mitchum on TV’s Saturday Night Live in 1987. Greer joined the casts of Falcon Crest in 1984, and Twin Peaks in 1990, in recurring roles.