(From Old Corral collection)
Jean Carmen /
Real name: Jean Carmean, which was shortened to Jean Carmen. Her screen name became "Julia Thayer" while at Republic Pictures in 1937.
1913 - 1993
Left - Jean Carmen - billed as 'Julia Thayer' - as the rider of the paint horse in THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937) chapterplay.
Born in Portland, Oregon on April 7, 1913, this lady's film career spanned a half-dozen years during the 1930s. Existing biographies mention that as a youngster, Jean worked on the stage in Fanchon and Marco revues; she developed horse riding skills and performed in circuses; her mother was a ballet dancer; more. Perhaps some or all of that happened. However, in the census for 1910, 1920 and 1930, parents John Carmean (born Ohio) and wife Agnes (born Norway) appear to be just plain hard workin' folks. In all three census, father John is a "Salesman - Department Store" or "Salesman - Clothing Store" and no occupation is shown for wife Agnes. In addition to Jean, there was an older brother John L. (Jr.?) and a younger sister named Carol.
(Courtesy of Andy Southard)
Above - a publicity still of the blonde-tressed Jean, probably circa 1934 at the time of her selection as a WAMPAS Baby Star.
(Courtesy of Bill Sasser)
Jean Carmen at the 1987 Charlotte, North Carolina Film Fest. She also attended the 1983 and 1989 Charlotte Festivals.
Jean Carmean made it to Hollywood in the early 1930s ... and her last name was shortened to "Carmen". She was at RKO and one of the starlets selected as a 1934 WAMPAS Baby Star. That group of lovely ladies publicized two films, Paramount's KISS AND TELL and Mascot's YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL. (WAMPAS was an abbreviation for the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers and there's a section on the Old Corral with listings of all the WAMPAS winners).
Jean was mentioned in a July, 1933 issue of Movie Classic magazine: "Jean Carmen, a striking blonde, is also in the 'big money.' She makes as much as seventy-five dollars a week and works with fair regularity - but, ironically, her beauty has little or nothing to do with the demand for her services. She is a 'stunt-woman,' ready and willing to take the risks for Hollywood's high-salaried stars."
The March 27, 1934 issue of Variety noted that Jean had a supporting role in the comedy play "Let's Be Civilized" at the Pasadena Community Playhouse. The male lead was Robert Livingston, future member of Republic's Three Mesquiteers trio westerns.
She made a few cowboy films with Bob Steele, Tom Tyler, Fred Scott, James Newill (Renfrew series), and the Three Mesquiteers. When she signed with Republic to do THE PAINTED STALLION serial, her name was changed to "Julia Thayer". And she was billed as Thayer in the Mesquiteers adventure GUNSMOKE RANCH (Republic, 1937). According to Jack Mathis in his book Republic Confidential - Volume 2 - The Players (1992), Republic signed her to a (brief) term player contract which ran from January 4, 1937 to April 3, 1937.
THE PAINTED STALLION was William Witney's first directing job, and he wrote extensively about that cliffhanger in his book In a Door, Into a Fight, Out a Door, Into a Chase: Moviemaking Remembered by the Guy at the Door (McFarland & Company, 2005). Bill Witney remembered Jean Carmen:
"In her Indian buckskins and chief's feathered headdress, she was a beauty."
Bigger film roles were not in the cards for Carmen/Thayer. After THE PAINTED STALLION, she free-lanced, doing bit and minor supporting parts - an example is Jean as one of the three "singing sisters" in the Three Stooges western themed short, YES, WE HAVE NO BONANZA (Columbia, 1939). She was unbilled in this two-reeler which starred Moe, Larry and Curly vs. baddies Dick Curtis and Lynton Brent.
With few movie jobs being offered, Jean did stage work ... and began writing plays:
- Variety had a blurb in the April 19, 1939 issue: "Nils T. Granlund is en route to New York with 10 Hollywood recruits for his Garden of Girls at the World's Fair. Jean Carmen heads the troupe as Queen of the Garden."
- She appeared in the New York production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" which starred Monty Woolley. Written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, the play ran for about a year and a half on Broadway.
- Newspapers from Summer, 1940 note that Jean was in White Plains, New York co-starring with Ezra Stone (radio's "Henry Aldrich") in the Clifford Goldsmith comedy "What A Life" ... and that she had also appeared in the Chicago company of "The Man Who Came to Dinner".
- In 1945, Jean and Irish Owen authored the comedy "Last House on the Left" and there was a pre-Broadway tryout in Hartford, Connecticut. The leads were Jean ... and Gene Barry, best remembered as TV's Bat Masterson. The play was not successful and never made it to New York.
There were two marriages. Her first was in 1932 to insurance broker Walter Lohman who was twenty or more years older than Jean. Newspapers and the August 14, 1932 marriage license indicate their wedding ceremony was at the beach home of silent screen actress Constance Talmadge Netcher in Santa Monica, California. They divorced in 1937. June 8, 1938 and July 20, 1938 issues of Variety had news about Jean going to court and charging Lohman with deception in their property settlement. Found nothing further on their legal battles.
Circa 1949, she married Barrett Collyer Dillow who was about ten years younger than she. Born in Illinois circa 1922, Dillow attended East High School in Aurora, Illinois and received a marketing degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He was an Army Captain during World War II and worked in advertising after the war.
The Dillows settled in Greenwich, Connecticut. There's a dozen or so 1950s - early 1960s Greenwich City Directories on ancestry.com with Barrett C. and Jean Dillow, and his occupation was "Adv - NY" (meaning advertising in New York).
Dillow moved up the ranks at several major advertising agencies. Highlights: in 1952, he's with McCann-Erickson, New York, as account executive responsible for Congoleum-Nairn Inc.; in 1959, he's at the Warwick and Legler agency as an account executive on the Mennen account; in 1965, he was elected Vice President of Grey Advertising, New York; in 1966, Dillow was appointed account supervisor on Max Factor products for Carson/Roberts Inc., Los Angeles.
Unsure when Barrett and Jean split, but probably circa 1959-1960, and there's records indicating he married two more times and re-located to California due to a job change.
Son Guy H. Dillow, nicknamed "Buz", or "Buzzie" was born in 1951 and died in 1985. Guy was featured in Jean's movie "The Pawn", an early 1960s film which was shot in the U.S. and Italy. There's links below to many trips to England and France by Jean (and sometimes, son Guy was included).
Soon after Guy's 1985 death, Jean sold the Greenwich, Connecticut home and re-located to Charleston, South Carolina.
Jean guested at the 1983, 1987 and 1989 Charlotte, North Carolina Film Festivals.
80 year old Jean Carmen Dillow passed away on August 26, 1993 in Charleston, South Carolina.
In 2015, Frank Reighter and the Three Stooges research team connected with Jean's relatives. Jean had broken her leg but it had not set properly. She had surgery and passed away on August 26, 1993 at the hospital from heart failure. Jean was cremated in Charleston, South Carolina, and her cremains were spread in the Atlantic ocean. Executors of Jean's will were Carmean relatives and the majority of her art collection and movie memorabilia was retained by the family. Included was her original makeup kit for THE PAINTED STALLION serial. On November 6, 1993, Roumillat's Auctioneers in Charleston, South Carolina conducted an auction of Jean's property (link further down this webpage for that auction ad).
(From Old Corral collection)
Above - Ray Corrigan and Julia Thayer / Jean Carmen smile for the camera during the 1937 filming of Republic's THE PAINTED STALLION cliffhanger.
(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)
Ray Corrigan and Julia Thayer / Jean Carmen in a lobby card from THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937).
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Julia Thayer / Jean Carmen: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0138383/
YouTube has a video of Jean and the 1934 WAMPAS winners. Note that the opening title of this five minute short has "Nat Levine Presents" which indicates it was produced by Levine's Mascot company: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6ftjI3PPqI
Thayer/Carmen also did some plays, and the Internet Broadway Database (IBDb) has her listed as a replacement in the role of "June Stanley" in the Monty Woolley comedy "The Man That Came To Dinner", circa 1939-41 in New York City: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/jean-carmen-111095
Photo of Monty Woolley and Jean Carmen in the New York stage production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" at the Music Box Theatre: https://collections.mcny.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=24UAYW212K_1&SMLS=1&RW=1450&RH=892&VP3=SearchResult&VBID=24UAYW212K_1&SMLS=1&RW=1450&RH=892
Playbill from January 26, 1941 with Jean as "June Stanley" in "The Man Who Came to Dinner" at the Music Box Theatre: http://www.performingartsarchive.com/Broadway/Broadway-M/Man-Who-Came-To-Dinner_1941/Man-Who-Came-To-Dinner_1941.htm
Jacqueline T. Lynch has a blog on theater in New England. The "Last House on the Left" was a comedy written by Irish Owen and Jean Carmen and in 1945, there was a pre-Broadway tryout in Hartford, Connecticut. There's a handbill listing Carmen and Owen as the authors ... and Jean Carmen and Gene Barry (TV's BAT MASTERSON) as the stars. The play wasn't successful and never made it to Broadway: http://tragedyandcomedyinnewengland.blogspot.com/2009/12/out-of-town-tryouts-last-house-on-left.html
The Google newspaper archive has articles on the filming of THE PAWN (original title: TEARS ARE FOR TOMORROW):
The AFI Catalog of Feature Films has more on Jean's "The Pawn" film which was released in 1968. AFI includes the following notes: "Production begun in Dec 1961; location scenes filmed in Ipswich and Boston, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island; upstate New York; and Amalfi, Italy. The working title of this film is Tears Are for Tomorrow.": https://catalog.afi.com/Film/20989-THE-PAWN?sid=1c5642ac-2a03-4d22-ac4a-c6338d48647c&sr=7.0361514&cp=1&pos=0
Appears that Jean (and her husband) were wealthy. Real estate info shows their second home in Greenwich, Connecticut was at 353 North Street in the Gold Coast area. There were 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, 4500 square feet, and the home was purchased in 1959 and sold in 1986. Scroll down to the bottom of this real estate listing and Jean was the sole owner of the property: https://blockshopper.com/ct/greenwich/greenwich/property/11-1746/353-north-street
Google Streetview of their home at 353 North Street, Greenwich, Connecticut: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-73.6167619,3a,75y,245.17h,69.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sz27R3GwHmycnUSHJlRmLMQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en
Wikipedia article on the Gold Coast area of Greenwich, Connecticut: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_Coast_%28Connecticut%29
May, 1942 article in the Daily Illini newspaper about University of Illinois military/ROTC cadets and it includes Barrett Collyer Dillow. In the column on the left with a headline of "Army Presents Maneuvers Today": https://idnc.library.illinois.edu/cgi-bin/illinois?a=d&d=DIL19420515.2.2&e=-------en-20--1--img-txIN----------
On the trail of Jean Carmean / Jean Carmen / Julia Thayer.
There are some traces of Jean and the Carmean family at Family Search (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), and other sources:
- The State of Oregon Archives has a marriage record for Jean's parents - John L. Carmean and Agnes J. Okman were married on April 30, 1908 in Multnomah County, Oregon: https://genealogy.state.or.us/detail.php?id=430266
- 1910 census summary and census takers worksheet - 25 year old John L. Carmean (born Ohio) and 18 year old wife Agnes J. (born Norway) livec in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Father John L.'s occupation is "Salesman - Dept Store": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLYY-GXM
- 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - 37 year old John Carmean (born Ohio), his 27 year old wife Agnes (born Norway), 8 year old son John (born Oregon), 6 year old daughter Jean (born Oregon), and 3 year old daughter Carrol [sic] (born Oregon) are living in Pocatello, Bannock County, Idaho. Error here - Jean is listed as their son, not daughter. Father John L.'s occupation is "Salesman - Clothing Store": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDCF-5P2
- 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 47 year old John T. Carmean (born Ohio), his 36 year old wife Agnes (born Norway), 19 year old son John L. Jr. (born Oregon), 18 year old daughter Jean (born Oregon), and 13 year old daughter Carol (born Oregon) were living in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Father John L.'s occupation is "Salesman - Clothing Store". No occupation listed for Jean: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCSC-9XD
- August 14, 1932 marriage license at Santa Monica, California of 41 year old Walter Lohman (born Missouri; occupation "Insurance") and 21 year old Jean Carmen (born Oregon; no occupation listed). This was his 2nd marriage and first for Jean. Her parents were John L. Carmen (born Ohio) and Agnes O'kman (born Norway):
- The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and the Connecticut Death Index have records on Jean's son, 34 year old Guy H. Dillow. He was born November 6, 1951 in Connecticut, last place of residence was Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and he passed away November 15, 1985:
- The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a record for Jean C. Dillow, born April 7, 1913, passed away August, 1993, and her prior residence was Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VM93-RP2
- Advertisement for the November 6, 1993 auction of the estate of Jean Carmen Dillow in the October 31, 1993 The State newspaper, Columbia, South Carolina: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/108016240/auction-of-the-property-of-movie/
- Find A Grave confirms that Jean Carmen Dillow's cremains were scattered at sea: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/151103893/jean-dillow
More on Barrett Collyer Dillow ... including World War II service, two later marriages, and moving to California with his advertising job:
- 1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - renting in Evanston, Cook County, Illinois were 45 year old Guy Dillow (born Illinois; occupation Advertising), his 40 year old wife Edna (born New York), 17 year old daughter Shirley (born Tennessee) and 8 year old son Barrett (born Illinois): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XSRM-72X
- The Internet Archive has the 1942 Illio yearbook for the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and there's a photo and other mentions of Barrett Collyer Dillow: https://archive.org/stream/illio42univ#page/n5/mode/2up/search/dillow
- Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Captain Barrett C. Dillow for 1944 action with the 24th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron: https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/30766
- New York marriage license index for Barrett C. Dillow and Lee Joan Scheimann in Manhattan, New York City in 1960: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QLS5-NMKY
- Couple of Connecticut marriage indexes for Barrett Dillow and Georgina Claire Williscroft (with some obvious spelling issues / truncation of names):
Connecticut marriage index for 42 year old Barre [sic] Dillow (lives in New York) and 41 year old Georg [sic] C. Williscroft (lives in New York) in 1963 at New Milford, Litchfield County, Connecticut: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VWYK-SHJ
Connecticut marriage index for 43 year old Barre [sic] C. Dillow (lives in New York) and 42 year old Georg [sic] C. Williscroft (lives in New York) on October 2, 1964 in Westport, Fairfield County, Connecticut: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VWRN-CK7
- October 31, 1966 Broadcasting magazine: "Barrett C. Dillow, account supervisor on Revlon products for Grey Advertising, New York was appointed account supervisor on all Max Factor products for Carson/Roberts Inc., Los Angeles." Ancestry had Public Records Indexes as well as phone and address directories for years 1994-2002, and Barrett C. Dillow and Georgiana C. Dillow lived at 1750 Whittier Avenue, Costa Mesa, California.
Jean did lots of 1950s ocean voyages between New York and England and France:
- 1946 immigration card from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Jean Carmen, single, birth date and location of July 4, 1913 in Portland, Oregon. INCLUDES A PHOTO OF JEAN: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22418-28966-44?cc=1932363
- 1951 ship passenger listing has 37 year old Jean Carmen Dillow (born Oregon; living in Greenwich, Connecticut) returning to New York from France: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-33882-4154-36?cc=1923888
- 1953 ship passenger listing has 39 year old Jean Dillow (born Oregon; living in New York City) and one year old son Guy Dillow (born New York) returning to New York from England: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-34002-19836-74?cc=1923888
- 1954 ship passenger listing has Jean C. Dillow (born Portland, Oregon; living in Greenwich, Connecticut) and son Guy H. Dillow (born New York, New York) returning to New York from England: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-34000-19053-31?cc=1923888
- 1955 ship passenger listing has 41 year old Jean Dillow (born Oregon; living in Greenwich, Connecticut) returning to New York from France: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-34007-66376-68?cc=1923888
- 1956 ship passenger listing has 43 year old Jean Dillow (born Oregon; living in Greenwich, Connecticut) and 4 year old son Guy Dillow (born New York) returning to New York from France: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-34009-12672-70?cc=1923888
Screen capture of Jean Carmen - billed as 'Julia Thayer' - as the rider of the paint horse in THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937) cliffhanger. Jack Mathis' book Valley of the Cliffhangers (Jack Mathis Advertising, 1975) had more about this horse: "Played by a pinto named Minister, the painted stallion was insured for $1500 and brought owner Frank Yrigoyen $175 for its appearance, and the horse's trainer Leo Dupee also functioned as a utility player in the picture."
(From Old Corral collection)
Above - Julian Rivero is the Spanish-garbed gent on the far left. William Desmond and Earl Dwire are in the darkened doorway. Blackie Whiteford is restraining hero Tom Tyler, and burly Dick Alexander has the butt of his six-shooter aimed at Tom's head. Prone on the step is Hank Bell, minus his usual moustache. The heroine is Jean Carmen, and this was her first western. From Tyler's BORN TO BATTLE (Reliable, 1935).
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Back row from left to right are Max Terhune, Ray "Crash" Corrigan, the gagged baddie is Robert Walker, and Bob Livingston is on the far right. Jean Carmen (billed as Julia Thayer) and young Sammy McKim look on in this still from GUNSMOKE RANCH (Republic, 1937), one of the Three Mesquiteers adventures.
Jerry Murbach's Doctor Macro website has a great closeup of Jean and Ray Corrigan from GUNSMOKE RANCH: http://www.doctormacro.com/Images/Corrigan,%20Ray%20'Crash'/Annex/Annex%20-%20Corrigan,%20Ray%20'Crash'%20(Gunsmoke%20Ranch)_01.jpg
(From Old Corral collection)
Above - Jean has won negotiations on who does the clothes washin' in this scene with melodious Fred Scott from IN OLD MONTANA (Spectrum, 1939).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Jean Carmen, James Newill, Milburn Stone, and Roy Barcroft in a scene from CRASHING THROUGH (Monogram, 1939), one of the Renfrew of the Royal Mounted adventures. On the stairs, and about to deliver a crushin' blow to Newill's noggin, is Iron Eyes Cody. In later life, Milburn Stone became 'Doc' on TV's long running GUNSMOKE.
(Courtesy of the Robert Webb Family)
A pause in the action on the Bob Steele western SMOKY TRAILS (Metropolitan, 1939). Above are:
1. James Aubrey
2. producer/director Harry S. Webb
3. Eddie Saeta
4. Bob Steele
5. producer/director Bernard B. Ray (he directed SMOKY TRAILS)
6. Rose Gordon, wife of Harry S. Webb
7. Gordon Webb (first son of Harry and Rose)
8. Sammy Gordon.
The leading lady (center) is Jean Carmen and Bruce Dane is the tall cowboy on the right.