LOS ANGELES – Jean Parker, the lovely brunette star of “Sequoia,” “Little Women,” “The Ghost Goes West” and other hit films of the 1930s and ’40s, has died. She was 90.
Parker died Nov. 30 of complications from a stroke at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital, her son, Robert Hanks, said Friday. He said she had lived at the retirement home since 1998.
A the 5-foot-3-inch beauty from Butte, Mont., Parker, whose given name was Louise Stephanie Zelinska, made her debut in 1932 as the Duchess Maria in “Rasputin and the Empress,” a film that starred three members of acting’s Barrymore family, Ethel, Lionel and John.
She went on to play ingenues in such other MGM films as “The Secret of Madame Blanche” (with Irene Dunne), “Operator 13” (Marion Davies, Gary Cooper), and “Gabriel over the White House” with Walter Huston.
Her most prestigious films were: Frank Capra’s “Lady for a Day” in 1933, Rene Clair’s “The Ghost Goes West” with Robert Donat in 1935, and notably “Little Women” as Beth in 1933, opposite Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett and Francis Dee as the other sisters in the heralded film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s literary classic.
Some critics considered “Sequoia” in 1934 Parker’s finest accomplishment. As the solo star of that film, she played a girl living near a national park who raises an unlikely pair, an orphaned fawn and mountain lion who grow up as friends.