Janet Blair (April 23, 1921 – February 19, 2007) was a big band singer who went on to become a popular American film and television actress.
Born Martha Janet Lafferty in Altoona, Pennsylvania (she took her acting surname from Blair County, Pennsylvania), Blair was the daughter of musically oriented parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred B. Lafferty. Her father led the choir and sang solos in his church, and her mother played both piano and organ. She had a brother, Fred Jr., and a sister, Louise. Raised in the public school system, she sang in the church choir during her youth and adolescence. The inspiration and talent were evident enough for her to pursue singing as a career by the time she graduated.
At age 18, she was a lead vocalist with Hal Kemp's band at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. Whilst singing with Kemp's outfit, Janet met and, subsequently, married the band's pianist, Lou Busch, a respected musician, songwriter, and, later, ragtime recording artist.
Usually appearing in a frothy musical or light comedy, she was seeded second, however, to another redhead, Rita Hayworth, when it came to Columbia's dispensing out musical leads. Janet, nevertheless, continued promisingly paired up with George Raft in the mob-oriented tune-fest, Broadway (1942); alongside Don Ameche in the musical, Something to Shout About (1943); and opposite Cary Grant in the comedy-fantasy, Once Upon a Time (1944). She played second lead to Ms. Hayworth in Tonight and Every Night (1945) and was right in her element when asked to co-star with bandleaders Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey in their biopic, The Fabulous Dorseys (1947).
During World War II she appeared as the pin-up girl in the March 1944 issue of Yank Magazine. In the late 1940s, Blair had star billing in the crime drama I Love Trouble as well as in The Fuller Brush Man, a comedy with Red Skelton, but was dropped by Columbia and did not return to pictures for several years.
A new decade brought about a new career direction. Putting together a successful nightclub act, she was spotted by composer Richard Rodgers and made a sparkling name for herself within a short time. Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific", starring Mary Martin, was the hit of the Broadway season and Janet dutifully took on the lead role of "Ensign Nellie Forbush" when the show went on tour in 1950. She gave a yeoman performance -- over 1,200 in all -- within a three-year period.
Following this success, she made her Broadway debut in the musical, "A Girl Can Tell," in 1953. She went on for decades, appearing in such tuneful vehicles as "Anything Goes," "Bells Are Ringing," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Mame," and "Follies." Her career, however, took second place after marrying second husband, producer/director Nick Mayo in 1953, and raising their two children, Amanda and Andrew.
During 1959 Blair recorded an album of standards entitled Flame Out! for the Dico label. Here's "They Can't Take That Away From Me."
After her second divorce, Janet laid off touring in musicals and settled in Hollywood to raise her two teenage children while looking for TV work. She found a steady paycheck paired up with Henry Fonda on the sitcom, The Smith Family (1971), playing another of her patented loyal wives. She also found scattered work on such TV shows as Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969), Switch (1975), Fantasy Island (1977), and The Love Boat (1977). Her last guest showing was on the Murder, She Wrote (1984) episode, Murder, She Wrote: Who Killed J.B. Fletcher? (1991). Janet died at age 85 in Santa Monica, California, after developing pneumonia.
(Info edited from Wikipedia & IMDB bio)