CAMARILLO, CA--Actress Adele Jergens, dubbed "The Eyeful" by a studio publicist, who often played floozies and burlesque dancers in her short but busy film career, died November 22, just 4 days short of her 85th birthday. MSTies will recall her co-starring role in the movie in episode 520- RADAR SECRET SERVICE, and that she also co-starred in Roger Corman's "The Day The World Ended," which was used for the Sci-Fi Channel's "MST3K: The Home Game" stunt in early 1997.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1917, Jergens was taking dancing lessons before she turned 10. As a young hopeful, one of her dancing teachers called her "the girl with the million-dollar legs." She soon began working in the chorus at the Brooklyn Fox Theater and as a model; later she became one of the famous Radio City Rockettes. Her first claim to fame was when she was named "Miss World's Fairest" at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. During the 1940s she was named the number-one showgirl in New York and was a popular pinup during World War II.
Her big break came in the manner so often depicted in Hollywood movies: In 1944 Jergens was the understudy for Gypsy Rose Lee in the Broadway show "Star and Garter," and filled in for the ailing Lee for two weeks. During the stint, a talent scout spotted her and signed to a contract with Columbia Studios.
The studio decreed that the brunette should be a blonde, and it was as a blonde that she spent most of acting days. She began in bit parts, but in 1945 was given the starring role in "A Thousand and One Nights," opposite Cornel Wilde.
A number of similar adventure films followed, including "Prince of Thieves" (1948), "The Mutineers" and "Treasure of Monte Cristo," both made in 1949. On the set of the latter film she met actor Glenn Langan. The two married in 1949, and their marriage lasted until his death in 1991. MSTies know Langan as Glenn Manning from the movie featured in episode 309- THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (he also appeared in the movie in episode 104- WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET).
Their only child, a son named Tracy, died last year.
In addition to the swashbucklers, Jergens demonstrated a flair for drama and comedy, and co-starred in films such as "The Corpse Came C.O.D." (1947), "The Fuller Brush Man" (1948) and 1948's "Ladies of the Chorus" in which she played Marilyn Monroe's mother, despite the fact that the two actresses were actually only 9 years apart in age. She also appeared in two films in the long-running "Blondie" series.
"Her image was always that of the tough chorus girl or gangster's moll or the best friend of the lead," Alex Gordon, a producer at American International Pictures in the 1950s, told the Los Angeles Times.
Jergens' contract with Columbia ended in 1950, and Jergens went to work for a number of different studios, often in film noir titles such as "Edge of Doom" (1950), "Fireman Save My Child" (1954) and "The Cobweb" (1955). Jergens retired from the screen in 1956 to pursue other interests.