Vivi Janiss

Vivi Janiss (born Vivian Audrey Jacobsen; May 29, 1911 – September 7, 1988) was an American actress, known for such films as The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955), Man on the Prowl (1957), and First, You Cry (1978).

Vivi Janiss
Vivian Audrey Jacobsen

(1911-05-29)May 29, 1911
DiedSeptember 7, 1988(1988-09-07) (aged 77)
ResidenceLos Angeles, California


A native of Nebraska, she was the second wife of actor and comedian Bob Cummings, to whom she was wed from 1935 to 1943. The couple met while performing in 1934 in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway.[1] She was also the voice of Walt Disney's Daisy Duck and appeared on both the Gunsmoke radio and television series.

From 1952 to 1955, Janiss appeared in five episodes of Jack Webb's original version of the Dragnet police drama television series. From 1953 to 1957, she was cast in four episodes of the Schlitz Playhouse of Stars anthology series. From 1954 to 1959, Janiss appeared as Myrtle Davis in 11 episodes of Robert Young's Father Knows Best situation comedy series, which aired on NBC and then CBS. From 1959 to 1962, she was cast in six episodes, none in the starring role, of the NBC Western series Wagon Train with Ward Bond and John McIntire.[2]

In 1955, she played the historical Mary Todd Lincoln in "How Chance Made Lincoln President" in the anthology series TV Reader's Digest. Richard Gaines was cast as Abraham Lincoln; Ken Hardison as Robert Todd Lincoln.[2]

In 1957, Janiss joined Frank Ferguson as guest stars in the roles of Mabel and Frank Cliff in the episode "No Blaze of Glory" of Rod Cameron's syndicated series State Trooper, a story of a presumed arson case with a surprise ending set in Goldfield, Nevada.[3] In 1959, Janiss was cast the role of Ella Westover in a second State Trooper episode, "Excitement at Milltown," along with Dayton Lummis and Suzanne Lloyd, a story about mysterious accidents at a remote lumber mill.[4] On December 4, 1959, Janiss was cast in the CBS anthology series Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, hosted by Desi Arnaz in the episode "The Hanging Judge" in which James Whitmore portrays a judge intent on bringing about vengeance of the killer of the judge's daughter. Others cast in the episode were John McIntire, as Janiss' husband, Jean Hagen, Buddy Ebsen, and Warren Berlinger.[5]

In its first season on the air, Janiss was cast with Everett Sloane in Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone episode "The Fever".[2] Then on October 7, 1960, cast as Edna Castle, she joined Luther Adler in the role of her husband, pawnbroker Arthur Castle, in "The Man in the Bottle" episode of The Twilight Zone. In the story line, a genie grants four wishes to the couple, which fail to allow them to escape their humble lifestyle, but allow them to appreciate it.[2] Years later in 1977, Janiss played a minor role as a pawnshop proprietor in the episode "Second Chance" of James Garner's NBC detective series The Rockford Files.[6]

Janiss appeared in many other series, too, three times on The F.B.I., starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and twice each on The Virginian and Ben Casey. She was cast once on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, Lawman, Trackdown, Cimarron City, Route 66, Have Gun – Will Travel, Follow the Sun, Hennesey, Outlaws, Laramie, 87th Precinct, Perry Mason, Mannix, and The Streets of San Francisco.[2]

After Cummings and she divorced, Janiss wed the actor John Larch, who was cast as the police chief in 1971 in the first of Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry films. She was married to Larch until her death. The couple appeared together on four television series, including the series premiere, "No Fat Cops", on October 3, 1961, of ABC's The New Breed, starring Leslie Nielson. In this episode, Larch and Janiss were cast as John and Mary Clark. Earlier, the two had co-starred on November 23, 1959, as Johnny and Elsie in the episode "End of an Era" of NBC's Western seriesTales of Wells Fargo, starring Dale Robertson, and on May 23, 1960, as Isaiah and Rebecca Macabee in the episode "The Proud Earth" of the half-hour NBC anthology series Goodyear Theatre. On November 9, 1960, Larch and Janiss appeared as Ben and Sarah Harness in the episode "The Cathy Eckhart Story" of Wagon Train, with Susan Oliver in the starring role. Later, on December 19, 1968, the couple appeared again together in the 10th episode "Yesterday Died and Tomorrow Won't Be Born" of Jack Lord's CBS crime drama Hawaii Five-O.[2]

Janiss' last roles were in the 1978 CBS television film First, You Cry, a story about breast cancer starring Mary Tyler Moore, and in two 1979 CBS series appearances on Barnaby Jones with Buddy Ebsen (Janiss and Bob Cummings had appeared together with Ebsen 45 years earlier in the Ziegfeld Follies), and House Calls, starring Wayne Rogers.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
1952Kansas City ConfidentialMrs. RogersUncredited
195399 River StreetEdna - Taxi DispatcherUncredited
1955The Phantom from 10,000 LeaguesEthel Hall, Dr. King's Secretary
1956The Fastest Gun AliveMabel BrownUncredited
1957Spring ReunionGrace
1957Man on the ProwlMrs. Gerhardt
1978First, You CryMarthaTV movie


  1. "Vivi Janiss Biography". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  2. "How Chance Made Lincoln President". Internet Movie Data Base. February 7, 1955. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  3. "No Blaze of Glory on State Trooper". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  4. "Excitement at Milltown on State Trooper". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  5. "The Hanging Judge on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  6. "Second Chance on The Rockford Files". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
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