Jean Arthur's wit and cracked husky child-woman voice made her one of Hollywood's most popular comedians of the 1930s and 1940s.
Propelled to stardom partially by Hollywood's 1933 Production Code, which prompted screenwriters to substitute quips for double entendres, Arthur cheerfully twitted the top leading men of the era—Gary Cooper in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" and "The Plainsman," Cary Grant in "Only Angels Have Wings" and James Stewart in perhaps her best-known film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," made in 1939.
Her only best actress nomination was for "The More the Merrier" in 1943. George Stevens, who directed the film, called Arthur "one of the greatest comediennes the screen has ever seen."
Asked why she dropped out of Hollywood after appearing in more than 70 films, Arthur said in 1966: "I hated the place—not the work, but the lack of privacy, those terrible, prying fan magazine writers and all the surrounding exploitation."
Her debut was a bit part in the 1923 film "Cameo Kirby," which was followed with several undistinguished roles in low-budget comedy shorts and westerns.
In her final film. "Shane," Arthur was the frontier mother playing opposite Alan Ladd and Van Heflin.
To the surprise of her close friends, Arthur interrupted her apparent retirement after a dozen years to make her first appearance on television, in a guest role on the long-running western series "Gunsmoke" in 1965.
Arthur enjoyed the television debut so much, however, that she agreed to do her own series in 1966, "The Jean Arthur Show," about an attorney. Despite her enthusiasm, the series was short-lived, and she returned to Carmel.
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