Jean Joyce & Her Heartbreaking Suicide

Jean Joyce

 Jean Joyce was a promising young starlet who committed suicide at age twenty-three.

She was born Eleanor Jeanne Shookey on September 27, 1916 in Denver, Colorado. Her father walked out and her mother, Florence Shookey, worked as a secretary in an oil company. Jean and her mother later moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She attended Roosevelt Junior high where she played in the school band. At the age of seventeen she joined the Adkar Associated Players theater troupe in Tulsa. In January of 1934 she married George L. Goodale, a newspaper writer. Soon after they went to Hollywood and she got a job dancing in a nightclub. The beautiful brunette made her film debut in the 1934 musical College Rhythm. Jean landed bit parts in numerous movies including Rhumba, The Girl Friend, and The Great Ziegfeld. Then she was chosen to be a dancer in the musical Swing Time starring Ginger Rogers. During filming choreographer Hermes Pan held a contest and she was named the "champion chorus girl of the 1936."

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In an interview she said "Like myself the majority of screen dancers do no limit their lives to dancing or doing bit parts in musical films. We hope to prove we have a talent for acting too." By 1937 her marriage to George had ended in divorce. She was signed by Republic Pictures and appeared in the Westerns Outlaws Of Sonora and Riders Of The Frontier. When she wasn't working she enjoyed swimming and sleeping late. Jean married director Abby Berlin in Las Vegas on June 27, 1939. The couple appeared happy but on November 6, 1939 they had an argument. That evening she committed suicide by swallowing arsenic laced ant paste. She was only twenty-three year old. Jean was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Her final film, Overland Mail,was released ten days after her death.

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