Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jeanna Michaels Dead at 62

Actress Jeanna Michaels passed away on May 23 after a brief battle with lymphoma. She was 62.

"My passion for make-believe, my crude theatrical talent, and my friends (imaginary and otherwise) were what started me in productions from Coast to Coast," Michael wrote in her bio on the Compass Players website. She was the founder and Producing Artistic Director. "My father moved us from Manchester, CT to the San Fernando Valley in California, and my living room productions led to award-winning high school and college productions." I was fortunate to be accepted as a Theater Arts major at UCLA. There, under the tutelage of Michael Gordon, I learned the craft and the business of theater. I was further blessed with other mentors like Stella Adler, Michael Shurtleff, and Ken McMillan. They transitioned me from a shy, gawky teenager to one of the million or so would-be-actors looking for a job—ALL of whom are talented, but only SOME of whom are lucky enough to work."

In the late 1970s Michaels looked for television work in Los Angeles and within 6 months received the “and introducing Jeanna Michaels” credit on Eight Is Enough. Soon after she was a recurring regular for the first three years of Dallas, playing Bobby Ewing’s secretary, Connie Brasher.

"The questionable ethics of Ewing Oil led me to look for other work (LOL)," Michaels joked.

She then landed a starring role in the mini-series, The Last Convertible, starring Perry King, Deborah Raffin, Michael Nouri, Kim Darby, Bruce Boxleitner and Sharon Gless.

After, she was typecast as a psychotic, suicidal nymphomaniac, Karen Richards, on The Young and the Restless for a year. She then moved on to General Hospital, playing the role of Constance Townley, an undercover spy who was under the covers with Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) while reporting to Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers). In the late '80s, she played Lydia Saunders on Santa Barbara. She also appeared as Madame Rosa on Generations.

For a number of years, she did guest spots on Who’s the Boss, Matlock, Hunter, Jake and the Fatman, CHiPs, Knightrider and Scene of the Crime with Orson Welles.

She then returned to her roots, building The Night Flight Theater in Hollywood and Burbank for Michael Shurtleff, and then helping to build The Road Theater in North Hollywood.

Compass Players, which performed at TheaterWorks at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, completed its second three-play season in March with the world premiere of Cynthia J. Cohen's romantic comedy, West Palm Prime. Michaels had been developing the schedule for the 2019 season when she became ill.

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