Jill St. John
Jill St. John
St. John in 1958
Jill Arlyn Oppenheim
August 19, 1940
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Education||Hollywood Professional School|
|Years active||1949–2002, 2014–present|
St. John was born Jill Arlyn Oppenheim in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Edward (1912–1986), a prosperous restaurant owner, and Betty Oppenheim (née Goldberg, 1912–1998), who became her stage mother. St John is of the Jewish faith.
As a young girl, St. John was a member of the Children's Ballet Company with Natalie Wood and Stefanie Powers. Her mother Betty changed Jill's last name to the more 'Hollywood-sounding' St. John during her adolescence.
St. John began acting on radio at age six, and she made her screen debut in December 1949, at age 9, in the first full-length made-for-TV movie, a production of A Christmas Carol. She was in the TV show Sandy Dreams in 1949.
At age 11, she appeared in two episodes of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. She had a small role in the film Thunder in the East (1951) and was in episodes of Sky King, Fireside Theatre, and Cavalcade of America.
She attended Powers Professional School and received her high school diploma from Hollywood Professional School in the spring of 1955 at age 14. At age 15, St. John enrolled at UCLA's Extension School.
In May 1957, St. John was 16 when Universal Pictures signed her to a contract for seven years starting at $200 a week. Her major studio film debut was in Summer Love (1958) starring John Saxon. She also appeared on TV in episodes of The Christophers, Schlitz Playhouse, and The DuPont Show of the Month (an adaptation of Junior Miss). She said her idol was Kay Kendall.
20th Century Fox
St John then signed a contract with 20th Century Fox who tried to build her into a star. She played the daughter of Clifton Webb in The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959) and Holiday for Lovers (1959), then was put in an adventure movie, The Lost World (1960).
St John had a key role in Come Blow Your Horn (1963), where she starred opposite Frank Sinatra. She received a Golden Globe Award nomination as Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance in the film.
She guest starred on shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Burke's Law, The Rogues, and Theatre of Stars. In 1964, she guest-starred in the episode "Take a Walk Through the Cemetery" of the drama series Mr. Broadway. She also appeared in some comedies with Bob Hope.
In 1966 she said her goal "was to be at a point where I have so proved myself as an actress that I can be more discriminating in the roles I choose. I want to be able to choose the parts I know I can do next."
She was reunited with Sinatra in Tony Rome (1967) and did a TV movie The Spy Killer (1968) which was popular enough for a sequel, Foreign Exchange (1970). She guested on The Name of the Game. Decisions! Decisions! (1971) was a TV movie St John did with Bob Newhart and Jean Simmons.
St. John's best known role was as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971), where she starred opposite Sean Connery. She was the first American to play a Bond girl.
St. John and Wagner were in Around the World in 80 Days (1989); Something to Believe In (1998); and The Calling (2002). They made brief cameo appearances as themselves in Robert Altman's Hollywood satire The Player (1992).
In 1996 they started appearing together on stage in Love Letters.
St John appeared without Wagner in Out There (1995) and The Trip (2002).
In 2014, St. John played Mrs. Claus in the made-for-TV movie Northpole alongside Wagner, who played the part of Santa Claus. The film marked her first acting role after a twelve-year absence from the screen.
She eventually developed her interest in cooking into becoming a culinary personality, appearing in monthly cooking segments on ABC-TV's Good Morning America and with a column in USA Weekend magazine through the 1980s. This culminated in authoring The Jill St. John Cookbook (1987), a healthy, but not health food, collection of recipes and some anecdotes.
St. John also developed a handmade Angora sweater business, and became interested in orchid growing, skiing, hiking, river rafting, camping, and gardening. In 1987, she said "I'm a mountain gal now. I love the outdoors and I love harvesting and using fresh vegetables and herbs."
St. John has been married four times:
- Neil Dubin (May 12, 1957 – July 3, 1958; divorced) St. John was 16 years old when they eloped in Yuma, Arizona. Dubin was heir to a linen fortune. St. John complained that he harassed and ridiculed her.
- Lance Reventlow (March 24, 1960 – October 30, 1963; divorced) Reventlow was the son of Barbara Hutton, heir to the F. W. Woolworth fortune. St. John received a settlement of $86,000. Despite their divorce and subsequent remarriages, she refers to Reventlow as "my late husband" in interviews.
- Jack Jones (October 14, 1967 – February 28, 1969; divorced) Jones said demands on his singing career and the traveling involved contributed to the breakup.
- Robert Wagner (May 26, 1990 – present) The couple first met in 1959 when they were contract players at 20th Century Fox, and have been together since Valentine's Day 1982.
In between marriages, St. John dated entertainment, sports, and political personalities including Gianni Bulgari, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, David Frost, Bill Hudson, Henry Kissinger, Sidney Korshak, Sandy Koufax, Peter Lawford, George Lazenby, Trini López, Jack Nicholson, Roman Polanski, Alejandro Rey, Frank Sinatra and Adam West. She was also romantically linked with criminal court judge Jerome M. Becker, Texas lieutenant governor Benjamin Barnes, ski instructor Ricky Head, Olympic ski champion Brownie Barnes and plastic surgeon Steven Zax.
She has three stepdaughters:
- Katie Wagner: Born in 1964, she is Wagner's eldest child, from his marriage to Marion Marshall.
- Natasha Gregson: Born in 1970, she is the daughter of Richard Gregson and Natalie Wood, but was raised by Wagner and St. John after Wood died in 1981.
- Courtney Wagner: Born in 1974, she is Wagner's only child with Wood.
- Thunder in the East (1951) – English Girl (uncredited)
- Summer Love (1957) – Erica Landis
- The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959) – Kate Pennypacker
- Holiday for Lovers (1959) – Meg Dean
- The Lost World (1960) – Jennifer Holmes
- The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) – Barbara Bingham
- Tender Is the Night (1962) – Rosemary Hoyt
- Come Blow Your Horn (1963) – Peggy John
- Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963) – Toby Tobler
- Who's Minding the Store? (1963) – Barbara Tuttle
- Honeymoon Hotel (1964) – Sherry Nugent
- The Liquidator (1965) – Iris
- Batman TV series episodes 1–2 (1966) – Molly
- The Oscar (1966) – Laurel Scott
- Fame Is the Name of the Game (1966) – Leona Purdy
- Eight on the Lam (1967) – Monica
- Banning (1967) – Angela Barr
- The King's Pirate (1967) – Mistress Jessica Stephens
- Tony Rome (1967) – Ann Archer
- The Spy Killer (1969) – Mary Harper
- Foreign Exchange (1970) – Mary Harper
- Decisions! Decisions! (1971) – Andrea Winters
- Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – Tiffany Case
- Sitting Target (1972) – Pat Lomart
- Brenda Starr (1976) – Brenda Starr
- Hart to Hart. Pilot (1979) – Sylvia Maxwell
- Rooster (1982) – Joanna Van Eegan
- The Concrete Jungle (1982) – Warden Fletcher
- The Act (1984) – Elise
- Around the World in 80 Days (1989) – Woman Mistaken for Princess Aouda
- The Player (1992) – Jill St. John
- Out There (1995) – Bunny Wells
- Something to Believe In (1998) – Dr. Joanne Anderson
- The Trip (2002) – Mary Oakley
- The Calling (2002) – Elegant lady
- Northpole (2014) – Mrs. Claus
- Canby, Vincent (December 18, 1971). "Diamonds Are Forever (1971) A Benign Bond:007 Stars in 'Diamonds Are Forever'". The New York Times.
- "The Private Life and Times of Jill St. John".
- "Betty Lou Oppenheim, dead at 85". Variety. April 16, 1998.
- Too Many Jacks for Jill: Hollywood's most irrepressible redhead says she likes the idea of marriage, but... Goldberg, Hyman. Los Angeles Times January 5, 1964: B12.
- Film Beauty, 16, to Save; Her Husband Pays Bills: Jill St. John Explains How She Can Put Away Salary; Court Approves Contract Los Angeles Times May 30, 1957: 2.
- Lovely Jill Goes Up the Hill to Stardom: JILL ST. JOHN 'High-Q' No Problem Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times September 28, 1958: E1.
- Just Call Her Joyous Fill: And Why Shouldn't She Be Joyous? She Has Beauty, Charm, a Burgeoning Career, and Lance Reventlow for a Husband Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune April 9, 1961: b17.
- Prefty, Bright, Rich Jill St. John Has Fun Smith, Jack. Los Angeles Times October 7, 1963: A1.
- Delicate Balance of TV Censorship Los Angeles Times November 23, 1966: C12.
- Jill's Ready for Better Roles NORMA LEE BROWNING. Chicago Tribune November 1, 1966: b1.
- Brown, Brigid (November 2012). "The Early Bond Girls: Where Are They Now?". BBC America. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- Lucky in life and in love: Robert wagner and Jill St. John star together in Love letters: The Record24 Oct 1996: C10.
- William Rice (December 10, 1987). "Actress Jill St. John Plays Up Cooking Career". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
- ACTRESS BLAMES HIVES ON NAGGING: Jill St. John, 17, Wins Divorce After Telling How Mate Impeded Her Career Los Angeles Times July 4, 1958: 2.
- Jill St. John Is Divorced New York Times October 31, 1963: 27.
- The Paul O'Grady Show, March 17, 2009.
- Field, Matthew; Chowdhury, Ajay (2015). Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films. The History Press. p. 254. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- Reventlow: Do Riches Affect Romantic Life?: Do Reventlow's Riches Affect Romantic Life? Callan, Mary Ann. Los Angeles Times July 15, 1958: A1.