Joi Lansing (Joi Lansing)

Joi Lansing

Joi Lansing was born Joy Brown in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1928 to Jack Glenn Brown, a shoe salesman, and Virginia Grace (née Shupe) Brown, a housewife. She would later be known as Joyce Wassmansdorff, which was the surname of her stepfather. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1940. She began modeling in her teens, and at age 14 was signed to a contract at MGM. She completed high school on the studio lot. A model and actress, Lansing often was cast in roles similar to those played by her contemporaries Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren. She frequently was clad in skimpy costumes and bikinis that accentuated her attractive figure, but she never posed nude. Lansing practiced yoga for relaxation, and as a devout Mormon, she did not drink or smoke. Lansing’s film career began in 1948, and in 1952 she played an uncredited role in MGM’s Singin’ in the Rain. She received top billing in Hot Cars (1956), a crime drama involving a stolen-car racket. In the opening sequence of Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958), she appeared as Zita, the dancer who dies at the end of the famous first tracking shot, during which her character exclaims to a border guard, “I keep hearing this ticking noise inside my head!” Lansing had a brief role as an astronaut’s girlfriend in the 1958 sci-fi classic Queen of Outer Space. She had fourth billing in another sci-fi story, 1959’s The Atomic Submarine. During the 1960s, she starred in short musical films for the Scopitone video-jukebox system. Her songs included “The Web of Love” and “The Silencer”. In 1964, producer Stanley Todd discussed a film project with Lansing, tentatively titled Project 22, with location shooting planned in Yugoslavia, and George Hamilton and Geraldine Chaplin named to the cast. The movie was never made.

Lansing played “Lola” in the romantic comedy Marriage on the Rocks (1965) with a cast that included Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr, and Dean Martin. She previously had appeared in Sinatra’s drama A Hole in the Head and in Martin’s comedy Who Was That Lady?. She turned down the chance to replace Jayne Mansfield in The Ice House (a horror film), and instead appeared opposite Basil Rathbone (in his last film appearance) and John Carradine in Hillbillys in a Haunted House, as Mamie Van Doren’s replacement. Her last film was Bigfoot (1970). Lansing appeared in The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, It’s a Great Life, I Love Lucy, Where’s Raymond?, Noah’s Ark, State Trooper, The People’s Choice, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Sugarfoot, Bat Masterson, This Man Dawson, Maverick, Petticoat Junction, The Mothers-in-Law, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and had a recurring role in The Beverly Hillbillies. She was among several glamorous actresses and models who screen-tested for the TV role of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle; others included Debra Paget, Anita Ekberg, Laurette Luez, and stripper Lilly Christine. The role eventually went to Irish McCalla. In 1957, she played Vera Payson in the Perry Mason episode, “The Case of the Crimson Kiss”. She is best known perhaps as Shirley Swanson in The Bob Cummings Show or Love That Bob (1956–1959). She appeared in several episodes as a busty model who was the foil for photographer Bob Collins, Cummings’ series name. The series ran for 173 episodes. She achieved some distinction as beating out Lois Lane (Noel Neill) to marry Superman (George Reeves) as the title character in “Superman’s Wife”, a 1958 episode of The Adventures of Superman.

What was possibly Lansing’s best role may ironically have been her least-seen as the leading lady in The Fountain of Youth, a Peabody Award-winning unsold television pilot directed by Orson Welles for Desilu in 1956 and broadcast on the Colgate Theatre two years later. The half-hour film remains available for public viewing at the Paley Center for Media in New York City and Los Angeles. In the 1960–1961 season of the NBC Western Klondike, Lansing appeared as Goldie with Ralph Taeger, James Coburn, and Mari Blanchard. In 1960, she appeared as Evelyn in the “Election Bet” episode of the Mr. Lucky TV series (season 1, episode 34). In May 1963, Lansing appeared in Falcon Frolics ’63. The broadcast honored the men stationed at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. By 1956, she had appeared in more than 200 television shows. She appeared in five episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies in the role of Gladys Flatt, the unlikely glamorous wife of bluegrass musician Lester Flatt. She named Ozzie Nelson as possessing the greatest sex appeal of any actor with whom she worked. The two played a love scene in a Fireside Theater drama. The show was hosted by Jane Wyman. Lansing was sometimes referred to as television’s Marilyn Monroe. Joi Lansing died from breast cancer August 7, 1972, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. She had been treated surgically for the disease in 1970, and also had severe anemia. While some press accounts gave her age as 37, she was actually 43 or 44 (depending on her actual birth year, which is disputed) at the time.

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Born

  • April, 06, 1928
  • USA
  • Salt Lake City, Utah

Died

  • August, 07, 1972
  • USA
  • Santa Monica, California

Cause of Death

  • breast cancer

Cemetery

  • Pierce Brothers Santa Paula Cemetery
  • Santa Paula, California
  • USA

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