Jean Elizabeth Spangler was born on September 2, 1923, in Seattle, Washington. But she attended a Los Angeles high school and decided to pursue her Hollywood film dreams after graduating and getting gigs as a dancer.
Then, when Jean was just 19-years-old, she got married to a manufacturer named Dexter Benner. Six months later, though, Jean filed for divorce after the teen accused her husband of cruelty.
Nonetheless, the pair continued engaging in an on-again-off-again relationship for an additional four years. During that time, Jean and Dexter also welcomed a daughter into the world together.
By 1946, though, all of that changed. The pair were officially divorced, and they were forced to enter a long custody battle over their child. But two years later, in 1948, Jean was granted sole custody.
1948 was a significant period in Jean’s career, too. That year, she started to pick up small roles and appearances in Hollywood movies– pushing her dreams slowly toward fruition.
By that point, Jean and her daughter had also moved back into her mother’s house– which was located in Los Angeles’ Wilshire District– with her brother and sister-in-law.
Then, she earned another small role in a musical drama titled “Young Man With a Horn,” which was set to debut in 1950. The leading actor was Kirk Douglas, an iconic star at the time.
Before the film could hit theatres, though, the aspiring actress became well-known throughout the country. But unfortunately, it was not due to her acting.
Instead, on October 7, 1949, Jean told her sister-in-law that she was going to meet up with her ex-husband, Dexter, to discuss a late child support payment. So, she planned to leave home, meet Dexter, and go to work afterward for a night shoot.
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