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Nan Grey; Left Acting Career After Marriage

July 27, 1993|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nan Grey, blonde leading lady of 1930s films and 1940s radio who abandoned her career when she married singer Frankie Laine in 1950, died on her 75th birthday.

Miss Grey died Sunday in the Laines' San Diego home of heart failure, said Joseph F. Laredo, co-author of Laine's autobiography.

Born Eschol Loleet Miller in Houston, she broke into films in 1934 as Nan Grey in "The Firebird." Over the next seven years, she appeared in two dozen films, including "Three Smart Girls" in 1936, which introduced Deanna Durbin; its 1939 sequel, "Three Smart Girls Grow Up," and "Tower of London" that same year with Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone.

Other films included "Babbitt" in 1934, "Dracula's Daughter" in 1936, "The Storm" and "Girls' School" in 1938, and "The House of the Seven Gables" and "Margie" in 1940. Her final film was "Under Age" in 1941.

Miss Grey began to phase out her film career after her marriage in 1939 to jockey Jack Westrope. The oft-engaged popular young actress eloped with Westrope. The marriage was considered an ideal one in Hollywood, but it ended in a Las Vegas divorce shortly before she married Laine.

In the 1940s, the actress switched to radio, for seven years playing the female lead Kathy Marshall in the popular soap opera "Those We Love."

She met Laine at Hollywood's Cocoanut Grove nightclub and largely retired from show business after their marriage on June 15, 1950. She made one guest appearance on television with him in 1960 in an episode of "Rawhide," the Western series for which he recorded the theme song.

In the mid-1960s, Miss Grey marketed a special cosmetic mirror for nearsighted women, and numbered among her customers Princess Grace of Monaco.

She and her husband moved to San Diego in 1968 to indulge in their passion of sportfishing. In 1971, they obtained a commercial fishing license for their 46-foot boat, "My Desire."

In addition to Laine, she is survived by two daughters from her marriage to Westrope, Jan Steiger of Los Angeles and Pam Donner of Beverly Hills, and four grandsons.

The family has said that flowers sent to El Camino Memorial Park and Mortuary in San Diego will be donated to a hospice after the private service. They asked that any memorial donations be made to the American Heart Fund.

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