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HOUSE OF DRACULA Actress Jane Adams Dies

Actress Jane Adams, best known for her role as the sympathetic hunchbacked nurse, Nina, in “House of Dracula” has died. Born Betty Jean Bierce on August 7, 1921 in San Antonio, Texas, Jane was a model before she appeared in films.

Jane earned a full scholarship to Juilliard to study violin. Instead, she turned it down to study acting at the famous Pasadena Playhouse. Her career didn’t begin in movies, but on radio. She played small roles on Lux Radio Theatre and on the old “Whistler” radio series. She signed with the Harry Conover Modeling Agency before her path led her to the silver screen. 

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Picked up by Universal Pictures using the name “Poni” Adams, it was said she earned the unusual name because of her horseback riding abilities, but in truth she was given the name while working at the Conover Modeling Agency just because it was different. In 1945, her acting moniker permanently changed to Jane Adams when she co-starred in the classic horror film “House of Dracula” with Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, Martha O’Driscoll, Lionel Atwill, Onslow Stevens, Ludwig Stössel and Glenn Strange. For audiences, the role she played would be her most memorable. As Nina, the hunchback nurse, she portrayed a beautiful, yet tragically sympathetic character who connected with fans. 

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Her personal life started tragically when she was briefly married to a Navy pilot, who in turn was killed in action during World War II on his first mission. She eventually married Army Major General Thomas Turnage, who earned the Distinguished Service Medal and Bronze Star. Shortly after marrying Turnage, Adams retired from acting. When her husband was sent to Korea, she briefly came out of retirement to appear in various early 50s television roles. 

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Adams has the distinction of playing roles in both a Batman serial and the Superman television series. In 1949, she portrayed Vicki Vale in “Batman and Robin” alongside Robert Lowery (Bruce Wayne/Batman) and John Duncan (Dick Grayson/Robin.) For her last role, in 1953, she played Babette DuLoque in the “Ghost Wolf” episode of the “Adventures of Superman” with George Reeves (Clark Kent/Superman.)

Adams’ husband retired Army Major General Thomas Turnage preceded her in death in December of 2000.

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Friend and artist Robert Aragon put together a loving tribute to the beautiful actress entitled, “In Memory of Jane Adams.” You can check it out below!

(Special thanks to Red Dot Studio and photographer Don C. Gates for his stunning final portrait.)

Sources: Robert Aragon, westernclippings, IMDb