Jane Greer was the actress remembered as the brainy, beautiful bad girl who liked to murder people and who has often been called the queen of film noir.
Outstanding in such films as "Out of the Past" with Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, and "The Big Steal" opposite Mitchum, Greer made 24 pictures and is still lauded at genre retrospectives. In the late 1940s, she was rated by Time magazine along with Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner among Hollywood's six most promising actresses.
The icy Greer, something of a Hedy Lamarr look-alike, might have been a far bigger and more durable star but for a mentor turned obstacle named Howard Hughes.
It was the eccentric billionaire and onetime film producer Hughes who brought her to Hollywood and had her coached in acting—only to keep her shelved with no screen test and no movies to make. She sued and paid $7,572 to end the contract, then joined RKO with some success—only to have Hughes buy the studio.
However limited, that career became a classic, particularly in her role as Kathie Moffatt in "Out of the Past." Moffatt destroyed Mitchum the soiled hero, dealt well with Douglas the heavy, did dastardly deeds and then dutifully died in a car crash at the end.
Among Greer's other films were less memorable fare, including her 1945 debut, "Two O'Clock Courage," followed by "George White's Scandals," "Bamboo Blond" and "Sinbad the Sailor." More impressive films include "They Won't Believe Me," the 1952 version of "The Prisoner of Zenda" opposite Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, and as Lon Chaney's second wife opposite James Cagney in "Man of a Thousand Faces."
She also appeared sporadically on television, including such series as "Zane Grey Theater," "Bonanza," "Quincy," "Falcon Crest," "Murder, She Wrote," "Twin Peaks" and notably in Louis L'Amour's "The Shadow Riders."