Jayne Meadows, actress and TV personality, dies at 95

Associated Press

Los Angeles – — Jayne Meadows, the Emmy-nominated actress and TV personality who often teamed with her husband, Steve Allen, has died. She was 95.

Meadows died of natural causes Sunday at her home in the Encino, California, area, spokesman Kevin Sasaki said Monday. Her son, Bill Allen, and other family members were with her.

"She was not only an extraordinarily gifted actress who could move audiences from laughter to tears and back again all in one scene, but she was the greatest storyteller I have ever known…." said her son.

Though best known as the wife of the beloved TV host — and the sister of "Honeymooners" star Audrey Meadows — Jayne Meadows had a solid career in her own right. She appeared on Broadway and in movies, gained three prime-time Emmy nominations as a TV actress and was a staple of talk shows and game shows.

Steve Allen, who died in 2000, summed up her appeal in a 1977 Los Angeles Times interview.

"She's an old-fashioned woman, old-fashioned in terms of her attitudes, her manner, her demeanor, her voice," he said. "She has a dignity that is rare these days. But she also has a lightness, an airiness, a girlishness and a certain degree of social innocence."

The red-haired Meadows appeared in several Broadway shows and films before she first became known to a wider audience as a panelist on the prime-time game show, "I've Got a Secret."

She was on the popular show from its first year, 1952, until the late 1950s. In the midst of this, she met and married Allen, tying the knot in 1954, just as he was starting his run as the first host of "The Tonight Show."

"The thing that made me a name on television was not acting — it was (the game show)," Meadows told the Los Angeles Times.