Born Jane Sterling Adriance in New York on April 3, 1921, actress Jan Sterling's wealthy family afforded her a private education. In the late 1930s, Sterling went to England to study acting and quickly secured roles in the London theatre. Sterling married actor John Merivale (who can be seen in Circus of Horrors) in 1941, but by the time she began doing films, the marriage was over and the couple divorced in 1948. That same year, Sterling landed her first significant film role in the 1948 tearjerker Johnny Belinda, as the wife of the man who rapes deaf mute Belinda.

Jan SterlingJan Sterling

Beautiful cheesecake shots of Jan Sterling

Sterling's first film appearance of note came in the 1947 John Wayne film Tycoon, but she was not listed in the credits. After noting her excellent performance in the Warner Bros. film Johnny Belinda the following year, Paramount executives eventually signed Sterling to a long-term contract and began casting her in a string of film-noir thrillers. A woman of culture, ironically she was at her best playing 'B' girls. In 1950, with her film career assured, Sterling married character actor Paul Douglas.

the films of jan sterling

Union Station (1950)

Jan Sterling

Paramount promotional photo from the film-noir thriller Union Station

The Mating Season (1951)

Jan Sterling

Paramount promotional photo for The Mating Season, taken at Lake Gregory

Flesh and Fury (1952)

Jan SterlingJan SterlingJan SterlingTony Curtis and Jan SterlingTony Curtis and Jan SterlingTony Curtis and Jan Sterling

From the Universal film Flesh and Fury. The photos on the right also include Tony Curtis

The Vanquished (1953)

Coleen Gray, John Payne, and Jan Sterling

With Coleen Gray and John Payne in the Paramount western The Vanquished

Alaska Seas (1954)

Brian Keith and Jan Sterling

With Brian Keith in Alaska Seas

The Human Jungle (1954)

Jan Sterling and Chuck Connors

With Chuck Connors in the crime drama The Human Jungle

The Incident (1967)

Jan Sterling and Tony MusanteJan Sterling and Mike Kellin

Scenes from the crime drama The Incident. LEFT: Sterling is hassled by Tony Musante. RIGHT: With Mike Kellin

later years

In 1955, Jan Sterling won a Golden Globe for her performance in The High and the Mighty (1954; with John Wayne) and was also nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film. She and husband Paul Douglas welcomed the birth of their son during the same year, but Paul Douglas passed away suddenly in early 1959. Afterward, Sterling's film appearances became fewer and farther between as she concentrated on her stage career and television work.

In the early 1970s, Sterling abandoned films and television to act in the legitimate theater, but she returned to the screen again in the late 1970s, acting in a few films and TV movies. Her final theatrically released film was First Monday In October (1981; with Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh). Sterling retired from the screen in the mid 1980s and in her later years suffered failing health. She passed away at the age of 82 on March 26, 2004, after a series of strokes. She was preceded in death by her son, who passed away in 2003.

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Dangerous Company (1982) with Beau Bridges and Ralph Macchio
First Monday in October (1981) with Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh
My Kidnapper, My Love (1980) with Mickey Rooney, Glynnis O'Connor, and James Stacy
Sammy Somebody (1976)
Having Babies (1976) with Desi Arnaz Jr., Adrienne Barbeau, Ronny Cox, Richard Masur, Greg Mullavy, Linda Purl, Karen Valentine, Abe Vigoda, and Jessica Walter
The Minx (1969)
The Angry Breed (1968) with James MacArthur, Melody Patterson, Suzie Kaye, William Windom, and Jan Murray
The Incident (1967) with Martin Sheen, Thelma Ritter, Beau Bridges, Ruby Dee, Mike Kellin, Ed McMahon, Gary Merrill, Donna Mills, Tony Musante, Brock Peters, and Diana Van der Vlis
Love in a Goldfish Bowl (1961) with Fabian and Denny Miller
High School Confidential! (1958) with Russ Tamblyn, Mamie Van Doren, John Drew Barrymore, Ray Anthony, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackie Coogan, Lyle Talbot, William Wellman Jr., Michael Landon, Norman Grabowski, and William Smith
Kathy O' (1958) with Dan Duryea, Patty McCormack, and Mary Jane Croft
The Female Animal (1957) with George Nader, Hedy Lamarr, Jane Powell, Jerry Paris, Gregg Palmer, Mabel Albertson, Ann Doran, and Max Showalter
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) with Richard Egan, Julie Adams, Mickey Hargitay, Dan Duryea, Walter Matthau, and Charles McGraw
1984 (1956) with Edmund O'Brien, Michael Redgrave, and Donald Pleasence
The Harder They Fall (1956) with Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger
Man with the Gun (1955) with Robert Mitchum, Karen Sharpe, Henry Hull, John Lupton, and Barbara Lawrence
Female on the Beach (1955) with Joan Crawford, Jeff Chandler, and Charles Drake
Women's Prison (1955) with Cleo Moore, Ida Lupino, Audrey Totter, Phyllis Thaxter, Howard Duff, and Warren Stevens
Alaska Seas (1954) with Robert Ryan, Brian Keith, and Gene Barry
The Human Jungle (1954) with Gary Merrill, Paula Raymond, and Chuck Connors
Return From the Sea (1954) with Neville Brand, Lloyd Corrigan, Alvy Moore, and James Best
The High and the Mighty (1954) with John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Laraine Day, Robert Stack, Phil Harris, David Brian, Paul Kelly, Julie Bishop, John Howard, and William Campbell
Pony Express (1953) with Rhonda Fleming, Charlton Heston, and Forrest Tucker
The Vanquished (1953) with John Payne, Coleen Gray, and Lyle Bettger
Split Second (1953) with Keith Andes, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally, Alexis Smith, Arthur Hunnicutt, and Paul Kelly
Sky Full of Moon (1952) with Keenan Wynn, Carleton Carpenter, and Elaine Stewart
Flesh and Fury (1952) with Tony Curtis and Mona Freeman
Rhubarb (1951) with Ray Milland, Gene Lockhart, and William Frawley
Ace in the Hole (1951) with Kirk Douglas and Frank Cady
Appointment with Danger (1951) with Alan Ladd, Jack Webb, Phyllis Calvert, Stacy Harris, and Harry Morgan
The Mating Season (1951) with Gene Tierney, John Lund, Miriam Hopkins, Thelma Ritter, and Larry Keating
Caged (1950) with Agnes Moorehead, Eleanor Parker, Ellen Corby, Hope Emerson, Jane Darwell, and Sheila MacRae
The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950) with Robert Walker, Joan Leslie, Edward Arnold, Spring Byington, and Leon Ames
Union Station (1950) with William Holden, Nancy Olsen, Barry Fitzgerald, Lyle Bettger, and Parley Baer
Mystery Street (1950) with Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Bruce Bennett, Elsa Lanchester, and Marshall Thompson
Johnny Belinda (1948) with Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead, and Stephen McNally

Backstairs at the White House, 1979 TV miniseries. Sterling portrayed Lou Hoover
The Guiding Light, 1952-2009 CBS daytime TV series. Sterling portrayed Mildred Foss from 1969-1970

Baby Boom, episode Christmas '88, originally aired December 21, 1988
Riptide, episode Fuzzy Vision, originally aired March 19, 1985
CBS Afternoon Playhouse, episode Dangerous Company, originally aired February 9, 1982
The Incredible Hulk, episode Interview with the Hulk, originally aired April 3, 1981
Three's Company, episode And Justice for Jack, originally aired November 11, 1980
Little House on the Prairie, episode Journey in the Spring: Part 1, originally aired November 15, 1976
Kung Fu, episode This Valley of Terror, originally aired October 5, 1974
The Virginian, episode Jump-Up, originally aired March 24, 1971
Medical Center, episode Crossroads, originally aired March 10, 1971
Bracken's World, episode Money Men, originally aired January 9, 1970
The Name of the Game, episode Good-bye Harry, originally aired October 24, 1969
The Name of the Game, episode Love-In at Ground Zero, originally aired January 31, 1969
Mannix, episode The Falling Star, originally aired January 6, 1968
The Road West, episode Eleven Miles to Eden, originally aired March 13, 1967
Run for Your Life, episode The Cruel Fountain, originally aired April 4, 1966
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed the Jackpot?, originally aired April 21, 1965
The Doctors and the Nurses, episode Where Park Runs into Vreeland, originally aired June 1, 1964
Breaking Point, episode Millions of Faces, originally aired December 9, 1963
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed Alex Debbs?, originally aired October 25, 1963
The Dick Powell Theatre, episode Luxury Liner, originally aired February 12, 1963
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, episode The Tender Poisoner, originally aired December 20, 1962
Kraft Mystery Theater, episode In Close Pursuit, originally aired June 13, 1962
Naked City, episode The Tragic Success of Alfred Tiloff, originally aired November 8, 1961
King of Diamonds, episode Stop Johnny King!, originally aired November 7, 1961
The Dick Powell Theatre, episode Doyle Against the House, originally aired October 24, 1961
Wagon Train, episode The Selena Hartnell Story, originally aired October 18, 1961
Adventures in Paradise, episode Errand of Mercy, originally aired May 25, 1961
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode The Last Escape, originally aired January 31, 1961
Bonanza, episode The Blood Line, originally aired December 31, 1960
The Untouchables, episode Kiss of Death Girl, originally aired December 8, 1960
G.E. True Theater, episode At Your Service, originally aired May 22, 1960
Alcoa Theatre, episode Chinese Finale, originally aired March 7, 1960
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, episode In Close Pursuit, originally aired 1960
Riverboat, episode Strange Request, originally aired December 13, 1959
Lux Playhouse, episode Stand-In for Murder, originally aired March 6, 1959
Wagon Train, episode The Annie Griffith Story, originally aired February 25, 1959
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode On the Nose, originally aired February 16, 1958
Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, episode A Guilty Woman, originally aired January 30, 1958
Kraft Theatre, episode Run, Joe, Run, originally aired January 29, 1958
Suspicion, episode Comfort for the Grave, originally aired January 27, 1958
Pursuit, episode The House at Malibu, originally aired January 14, 1958
Climax!, episode Mask for the Devil, originally aired October 10, 1957
The Loretta Young Show, episode Rummage Sale, originally aired April 14, 1957
Playhouse 90, episode Clipper Ship, originally aired April 4, 1957
Lux Video Theatre, episode The Great Lie, originally aired March 21, 1957
The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, episode Whereabouts Unknown, originally aired February 26, 1957
Lux Video Theatre, episode Rebuke Me Not, originally aired August 9, 1956
Lux Video Theatre, episode She Married Her Boss, originally aired June 7, 1956
Climax!, episode The Shadow of Evil, originally aired May 24, 1956
Celebrity Playhouse, episode I'll Make the Arrest, originally aired May 22, 1956
Celebrity Playhouse, episode The Go-Between, originally aired March 13, 1956
Front Row Center, episode Hawk's Head, originally aired April 1, 1956
Lux Video Theatre, episode The Unfaithful, originally aired January 12, 1956
Chevron Hall of Stars, episode Reverse English, originally aired 1956
The Star and the Story, episode Desert Story, originally aired June 4, 1955
Stage 7, episode A Note of Fear, originally aired May 15, 1955
Lux Video Theatre, episode Remember the Night, originally aired May 5, 1955
The Star and the Story, episode Ferry to Fox Island, originally aired January 29, 1955
The Ford Television Theatre, episode Trip Around the Block, originally aired October 28, 1954
Pulitzer Prize Playhouse, episode The Just and the Unjust, originally aired March 20, 1951
The Marshal of Gunsight Pass, episode Shotgun Messenger, originally aired 1950

jan sterling film now showing

Watch Jan Sterling's 1955 noir thriller Women's Prison
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This page premiered March 19, 2002.
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