Dorothy Jordan (American actress)

Dorothy Jordan (August 9, 1906 December 7, 1988) was an American movie actress who had a short but successful career beginning in talking pictures in 1929.

Dorothy Jordan
Dorothy Jordan in bathing-suit (1932)
Born(1906-08-09)August 9, 1906
DiedDecember 7, 1988(1988-12-07) (aged 82)
Years active1929-1933;1953-1957
Spouse(s)Paul J. Barnes (?)
Merian C. Cooper (19331973) (his death) 3 children
ChildrenCol. Richard M. Cooper
Dr. Eherasa Henderson
Mary Carolyn Cooper[1]

Early career

Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, Jordan studied at what is now Rhodes College and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She performed in Broadway musicals, including Garrick Gaieties.[2]

Jordan made her screen debut in the 1929 film The Taming of the Shrew.[3] She went on to make twenty-two more films in the next four years including Min and Bill (1930) with Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler and The Cabin in the Cotton (1932) with Bette Davis. During that time, she appeared in films with Ramon Novarro, Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Huston and Jimmy Durante.[3]

Film retirement and return

In 1933, Jordan left films and married filmmaker, screenwriter and later World War II U.S. Army Air Forces Brigadier General Merian C. Cooper, who co-wrote, produced and directed the 1933 film King Kong. The couple had three children, a son and two daughters.

In 1937, Jordan came out of retirement to try for the role of Melanie Hamilton in Gone With The Wind.[4] Cooper was a good friend of and frequent collaborator with Western director John Ford, forming Argosy Productions in 1947. It was for Argosy's The Sun Shines Bright, directed by Ford in 1953, that Jordan again came out of retirement, for a small role. She later had another small role as the sister-in-law of John Wayne's character, Ethan Edwards, who seeks Jordan's daughter, played by Natalie Wood, in the epic 1956 Argosy film The Searchers. Jordan appeared once more, in a small role in the John Ford film The Wings of Eagles in 1957 before retiring permanently.

Later years

Jordan and Cooper lived in Coronado, California and remained married until his death of cancer on April 21, 1973. Jordan died of congestive heart failure on December 7, 1988 in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.[3] Her body was cremated at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles, California, and her ashes scattered at sea.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1929 Black Magic Ann Bradbroke
Words and Music Song and dance principal
The Taming of the Shrew Bianca
Devil-May-Care Leonie de Beaufort
1930 In Gay Madrid Carmiña Rivas
Call of the Flesh Maria Consuelo Vargas
Love in the Rough Marilyn Crawford
Min and Bill Nancy Smith
1931 A Tailor Made Man Tanya
Shipmates Kit Corbin
Young Sinners Constance Sinclair
The Beloved Bachelor Mitzi Stressman
Hell Divers Ann Mitchell
1932 The Lost Squadron 'Pest' Curwood
The Wet Parade Maggie May 'Persimmon' Chilcote
The Roadhouse Murder Mary Agnew
Down to Earth Julia Pearson
70,000 Witnesses Dorothy Clark
The Cabin in the Cotton Betty Wright
That's My Boy Dorothy Whitney
1933 Strictly Personal Mary O'Conner
Bondage Judy Peters
One Man's Journey Letty McGinnis
1953 The Sun Shines Bright Lucy Lee's mother
1956 The Searchers Martha Edwards
1957 The Wings of Eagles Rose Brentmann (final film role)


  1. "Dorothy Jordan, 82; Entered Movies in '29". 13 December 1988 via
  2. Folkart, Burt A. (1988-12-14). "Dorothy Jordan, Dancer and Film Actress in '30s". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
  3. "Dorothy Jordan, 82; Entered Movies in '29". The New York Times. 1988-12-13. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
  4. LisaLaLisa92 (20 August 2008). "Gone With The Wind (1939) - Screen Tests" via YouTube.
  5. Wilson, Scott (16 September 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland via Google Books.
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