Jan Sterling was a blond beauty featured in film noir movies of the 1940s, '50s and '60s.
She appeared in more than 40 motion pictures from 1948 to 1980, sometimes in starring roles but more often as a significant supporting character.
Her appearance as a terrified airline passenger in the 1954 film "The High and the Mighty" won her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.
In "The High and the Mighty," the airline passenger she played was a call girl.
"I was the original 'happy hooker,' " Sterling said decades later. "I've played her in 10 of my 42 movies, and I've played her on television and on the stage."
She also appeared in dozens of television shows, including multiple appearances on "The Guiding Light" in 1969 and 1970.
One of her most memorable roles was that of the wife of a spelunker trapped in a cave in the 1951 Billy Wilder film "Ace in the Hole," which was re-released later as "The Big Carnival." Sterling's character helped an unscrupulous reporter, played by Kirk Douglas, milk the story by proclaiming her heartbreak to the news media.
Her first important Hollywood role was as the wife of a man who rapes a deaf mute in the critically acclaimed 1948 film "Johnny Belinda."
Films that followed included "Union Station" with William Holden in 1950; "The Mating Season" with Gene Tierney in 1951; "Pony Express" with Rhonda Fleming and Charlton Heston in 1953; "Man With the Gun" with Robert Mitchum in 1955; George Orwell's "1984" with Edmond O'Brien in 1956; and "The Incident" with Martin Sheen in 1967.
In 1968, she received the first annual achievement award of the Century Club, composed of members of the American Jewish Congress.
The award recognized her service in radio and television programs produced for the women's conference of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.
Her last film appearance was in "First Monday in October" with Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh in 1981.
Sterling was married twice: to actor John Merrivale from 1941 to 1948 and to actor Paul Douglas from 1950 until his death in 1959.
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