Jean Chatburn (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 08, 2022

Jean Chatburn was a delicate child and, as a result, had to spend much of her time outdoors. She received the greater part of her education from tutors, and had completed her high school course when she was fifteen.

Born September 11, on a farm near Hanover, Michigan, not a great distance from Detroit, Jean moved to San Francisco when she was five years old. Soon she moved to Los Angeles. It was here that her early ambition to be a lawyer faded and she resolved to become an actress.

She joined an amateur dramatic club and appeared in numerous productions. While waiting to enter college, Jean got a job as stand-in for Barbara Stanwyck. Then she put in six months as a dancer and received a contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. There she studied in the studio training school.

“No More Ladies” First

Jean received her first real screen role in “No More Ladies.” After making a technicolor short, she played the role of Mary Lou in The Great ZiegfeldWilliam Powell took an interest in her and gave her much valuable advice, as well as confidence in herself.

Tennis, swimming and sailing are her favorite sports. She enjoys playing chess. She is five feet three and one-half inches tall, weighs 112 pounds and has blue grey eyes.

Jean’s hobbies are collecting poetry and gardening. She enjoys playing her piano and romping with her Cocker spaniel dog. She was once lost at sea in a thirty-foot sailboat for part of a day and night. She spends her spare time on her ranch, where she grows cotton, grapes and potatoes. For relaxation she reads historical novels.

Interested in Aviation

She married Frank Orsatti, an actor’s agent, in 1936, and they traveled through Europe on their honeymoon. She belongs to the Beverly Hills Athletic Club and her only business interest outside of pictures is the stock which she owns in an aviation project.

Her favorite play is “Romeo and Juliet” and her favorite picture is Lives of a Bengal LancerThe habit of outdoor exercise which she formed as a child has remained with her and she takes advantage of every opportunity when she isn’t working in pictures to get out into the open.

“Charity Begins at Home”

There is an amusing anecdote concerning Jean’s work in the short subject “Sometime Soon,” which she recently completed. When workmen on the set smelled the unmistakable odor of burning cloth, all other labor was suspended while they searched. It was Jean who traced the smoke to its source. A sport coat had fallen over a hot electric bulb and was ruined. She turned quickly to Director Sammy Lee, solicitious for some extra.

“Find out who owns it,” she pleaded. “I’ll buy a new one.”

Lee ordered a prop boy to hold up the smouldering coat for identification. No one claimed it. Jean looked closer and gasped.

“Why,” she exclaimed, “It’s mine!”

And now Jean is certain that charity begins at home.

For entertainment Jean enjoys dancing, bridge and the theatre. She plays the piano expertly. She listens to radio news broadcast as a means of keeping herself posted on current events.

Miss Chatburn’s most recent screen hit was in “Bad Guy,” with Virginia Gray, Bruce Cabot and Edward Norris. Cast as a modern young lady in a maelstrom of dramatic complications, Miss Chatburn met every test and was acclaimed as an emotional actress of power with a brilliant future.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937