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Ann Jillian (born Ann Jura Nauseda on January 29, 1950 in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker) is an American actress, who started acting at age 10. Her career reached its zenith in the 1980s, with her best-known role being that of waitress Cassie Cranston on the sitcom It's a Living.

Early life and career

Ann Jillian was born January 29 1950, although many sources say 1951 is her birth year. She was born to Roman Catholic Lithuanianmarker immigrant parents and speaks Lithuanian fluently.

Jillian has been acting since 1960 when she played Little Bo Peep in the Disney film Babes In Toyland. She appeared as Dainty June in the Rosalind Russell-Natalie Wood 1962 movie version of Gypsy. She had several television appearances in the 1960s and 1970s, notably becoming a regular on the 1960s sitcom Hazel and appearing in The Twilight Zone episode "Mute" as the mute telepathic Ilse Nielson in 1963. She also did voice acting, for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and Sealab 2020 in the early 1970s, but—told she was too tall to play youthful roles of the day and too young to play a leading lady—there was no more work for her in Hollywood. She took a department store job and studied psychology, but heeded the advice of casting director Hoyt Bowers and Walt Disney who had told her, "whatever you do, keep working at your craft."

Jillian married Andy Murcia, a Chicago police sergeant, in 1977 and shortly thereafter Murcia retired to manage his wife's career. Earlier in her career she had been managed by Joyce Selznick.

In the late 1970s she toured in musical comedies including Sammy Cahn's Words and Music. She was picked from that production to appear in the original company of Sugar Babies on Broadwaymarker with Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller in 1979.

1980s fame

Jillian appeared in more than 25 films, mostly for TV. Though she had nearly two decades' worth of film and television credits already, she first came to national prominence in the 1980s series It's a Living, a sitcom that elevated Jillian to sex symbol status in 1980. She was last to be signed onto this series and received last place billing. The show aired for two seasons on ABC before being cancelled due to low ratings and was sold into syndication for the burgeoning cable TV market.

Toward the end of her time on the series for the ABC run, she portrayed Mae West in a 1982 made-for-TV film. The supporting cast included James Brolin, Piper Laurie and Roddy McDowall. Jillian was nominated for a lead actress Emmy and Golden Globe for her performance.

In 1983 she appeared in the John Hughes movie Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton and Teri Garr. The same year she appeared in the mini-series Malibu, starring Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and James Coburn.

That fall she starred in her own sit-com, Jennifer Slept Here, in which she played a ghost in a variation on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. By this time It's a Living had become a surprise success in syndication.
in Philadelphia, 1984
Jennifer Slept Here ended in 1984, enabling her to take a role in the miniseries Ellis Island, co-starring opposite Richard Burton, Faye Dunaway, Ben Vereen and Liam Neeson. Dunaway and Vereen were nominated for Golden Globes and Jillian and Burton were nominated for Emmys.

In 1985 she played The Red Queen to Carol Channing's White Queen in an all-star television musical adaptation of Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland. The same year the producers of It's a Living made the relatively unheard-of decision to resume production of the series, by then a couple years off the air, for the USA cable network, and Jillian was contractually obligated to return to the series.

Just prior to that time, however, the then 35-year-old actress had made headlines when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she became a vocal advocate for cancer research and prevention. Leaving It's a Living after the 1985-1986 season, she focused on beating her cancer, with treatment including a double mastectomy. Her battle with the disease was chronicled in the top-rated 1988 made-for-TV film, The Ann Jillian Story, in which Jillian portrayed herself. Jillian received her third Emmy Award nomination, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, and won a 1989 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV.

The following year she starred in a series entitled, simply, Ann Jillian. The show aired 13 episodes in the 1989-1990 season.

Bob Hope selected her to appear in six of his TV specials, including two entertaining U.S. troops stationed in Beirut (1984) and Saudi Arabia (1991). She displayed her athletic abilities on three Battle of the Network Stars specials and a Circus of the Stars special and appeared in the charity extravaganza Night of 100 Stars. She guest starred in TV specials for Don Rickles (1986) and David Copperfield (1987) and was on the dais at the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast for Mr. T (1984).

Jillian had a son, Andrew Joseph, in 1992. She has continued to act, with ten TV movie roles throughout the 1990s, though her TV and film credits have been sporadic since the late 1990s, as she decided to devote herself to raising her son and to promoting breast cancer issues. Today, she mostly works as a motivational speaker and also performs as a singer in corporate and symphony "pops" circles. She is an occasional guest columnist for the website TheColumnists.com. The family resides in the San Fernando Valleymarker area of Los Angelesmarker.

Selected filmography



References

  1. Ann Jillian IMDB Awards & Nominations
  2. Ellis Island awards/nominations
  3. The Ann Jillian Story at IMDB.com


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