Home » Unlabelled » Jan Miner Dies at 86
Monday, July 8, 2013
She had been in failing health for several years and died at the Bethel Health Care Facility, said her New York agent, Michael Thomas.
From the 1940′s to the 1980′s, Ms. Miner was never far from productions on and off Broadway or on out-of-town stages, from New Haven and Stratford, Conn., to St. Louis. She was also on radio programs, including the popular “Boston Blackie” series as Richard Kollmar’s leading lady in the late 1940′s, and appeared in films and in television plays and series.
The Palmolive commercials featured Ms. Miner as Madge, who praised the gentleness of its dish detergent to a customer surprised to find that her hands were soaking in it. She played the character for 27 years. Meanwhile she appeared in repertory productions at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford for six seasons.
She frequently shared the stage with her husband of 35 years, Richard Merrell, an actor and writer, who died in 1988. Among her later appearances on Broadway were roles in revivals of “The Women” in 1973, Lillian Hellman’s “Watch on the Rhine” in 1980 and “Heartbreak House” at the Circle in the Square Theater in 1983 and 1984.
Janice Miner was born on Oct. 15, 1917, in Boston, the daughter of a dentist and a painter. She studied at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston and trained for the stage with Lee Strasberg, among others. She made her stage debut in Boston in Elmer Rice’s “Street Scene” in 1945 and in New York as Maria Louvin in “Obligatoo” in 1948.
She was seen with Rex Harrison in “Heartbreak House” and with Jane Alexander in “The Heiress.” Other roles were in “Othello,” “Major Barbara” and Franco Zeffirelli’s productions of “Saturday, Sunday, Monday” and “Lady of the Camellias.”
With her husband she appeared in “The Gin Game” at the Missouri Repertory Theater. Her film credits included “Lenny,” with Dustin Hoffman, and “Mermaids,” with Cher. Her many roles as a guest star on television included a recent appearance on “Law and Order.”
Ms. Miner is survived by a brother, Donald Miner, of Concord, N.H.
She made the Palmolive commercials in French, German, Danish and Italian. The legendary actress Eva Le Gallienne coached her in French.
“I’d dip my hands in Palmolive the rest of my life,” Ms. Miner once said, because it left her free to pick and choose her theater roles.