Jean Howard, a Ziegfeld girl turned starlet who became known as a legendary Hollywood hostess and photographer, died March 21 in Beverly Hills. She was 89.
She died at the Coldwater Canyon Drive home where she entertained such luminaries as Greta Garbo, Tyrone Power, Laurence Olivier, Humphrey Bogart, Merle Oberon, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Bugsy Siegel and John F. Kennedy.
Howard arrived in 1930 from Longview, Texas, and won a role in the Ziegfeld Follies. She eventually came to Hollywood and became one of the first Goldwyn Girls. She was soon an MGM contract player with small roles in several features of the 1930s and 1940s, such as “Broadway to Hollywood,” “The Prizefighter and the Lady,” “Dancing Lady,” “Break of Hearts,” “We’re on the Jury,” “Claudia” and “The Bermuda Mystery.”
But she wasn’t interested in becoming a film star. Instead, she came to wield power as a favorite Hollywood hostess and photographer, turning her portraits into the books “Jean Howard’s Hollywood” in 1989 and “Travels With Cole Porter” in 1991.
In later life she graced the silver screen in several films including “Huckleberry Finn” (1975), “Traveller” (1997) and “Sparkle and Charm” (1999).