Statuesque, beautiful Jane Randolph is most fondly remembered for her run-ins with Cat People, Dracula and Abbott and Costello when they met Frankenstein.
In between those pictures, she appeared in her solo western, “Fool’s Gold,” with Hopalong Cassidy. “That was after I was under contract to RKO. I’d gone to New York and returned to California, so it was a freelance job. We went way up to Lone Pine, where it was very hot! The cast was just great. Andy Clyde was a real comic who’d been around forever. I wish I could tell you some interesting anecdotes about Bill Boyd or Rand Brooks. I do remember they were both very simpatico to work with. Rand Brooks is so handsome—I wish we could have done more things together!”
Regarding the scene where the mad doctor has Hoppy tied up in a shack and releases deadly spiders, Jane winces, “I am terrified of spiders, I hate them! I didn’t have to be there when they shot that…those things give me the creeps. I know it seems odd, being afraid of little bugs when I worked with Cat People, Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster!” (“Cat People” ‘42; “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” ’48.)
Commenting on other actors who might not have been so easy to work with, Jane recalls her RKO Falcon pictures with George Sanders and his brother Tom Conway (“Falcon’s Brother”, “Falcon Strikes Back”). “I have vivid memories. Tom was great to work with. He always looked up to George. But I can’t say the same for George, who at every chance tried to steal the scene from Tom—if he could. After doing our first stills together before the picture started—Tom said to him, which I overheard, ‘Leave this girl alone; she’s a nice girl.’ After that, in every closeup I had, George would play with his suspenders or look at the floor or some distraction, which I did not appreciate, but didn’t let it bother me. All in all, I would say he wasn’t a great person to work with, but was a very good actor. I did enjoy being in the Falcon series.”
Jane studied acting under Max Reinhardt, “He was such a good teacher that I was able to star in my first picture when I went to RKO where I never had to do smaller parts and work my way up. He was so magnificent that I started out in leading roles! That’s not to say I never did bits. Earlier, before I finished at Max Reinhardt’s and landed a contract at RKO, I did have some tiny parts in pictures like ‘Manpower’ (‘41) with George Raft. Although I was unaware of it, gangster Bugsy Siegel’s mistress, Virginia Hill, was an extra in ‘Manpower’. I played the hat check girl. Yet, when they made the film ‘Bugsy’ (‘91), they upped her status by having Virginia play the hat check girl in that film. When ‘20/20’ did a special on Bugsy and Virginia, they lifted my footage out of ‘Manpower’ and called me Virginia Hill! (Laughs) They were soon notified by phone about their error, but they never ran a retraction.”
Born Jane Roermer October 30, 1915, in Youngstown, OH, after leaving films Jane spent part of her time in Europe, in particular Switzerland. “I’m very interested in painting. I just returned from a wonderful two weeks painting in Northern England. I never knew how beautiful it was. I go interesting places every year with watercolor workshops. I guess it takes the place of acting in a way.”
Jane Randolph died May 4, 2009, in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Jane’s Western Filmography
Movies: Fool’s Gold (‘46 U.A.)—Hopalong Cassidy. Serials: Mysterious Mr. M (‘45 Universal)—Dennis Moore.