Jean Porter, the petite dancer and supporting actress known for roles in Bathing Beauty, The Youngest Profession, and Abbott and Costello in Hollywood, died January 13 of natural causes in Canoga Park, Calif. She was 95.
Porter was a child entertainer in her native Cisco, Texas, when her parents brought her to Hollywood for a vacation and dance lessons. She was discovered at the dance studio and signed for a small role in a picture at Fox. Extra work and bit parts followed, and she was signed by MGM. She starred alongside Mickey Rooney in Andy Hardy’s Blonde Trouble and Humphrey Bogart in The Left Hand of God.
Jean enjoyed working with Bud and Lou. She recalled in the book Abbott and Costello in Hollywood, “I had worked with a lot of comedians, and I thought it had to be fun. Well, I didn’t know how much fun it was going to be!” She only had one complaint. “We spent weeks rehearsing a musical number that was cut out of the picture, the ‘Cocabola Tree.’ Lou was in a tux and I was in an evening dress, and we were dancing all over the place. It was terrific!”
Jean worked with the boys again in 1953 on their TV series in the episode “South of Dixie.”
In 1946 she replaced Shirley Temple in Till the End of Time and met her future husband, director Edward Dmytryk. In 1947 he was named as one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of blacklisted film professionals who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). They all served time in prison for contempt of Congress.
In 1951, however, Dmytryk did testify to HUAC and rehabilitated his career. The couple were together until his death in 1999, and wrote a book together about film acting. She also wrote books about the family members of blacklisted Hollywood stars and jazz pianist Jess Stacy.
Porter is survived by two daughters and a stepson.•