Author Sara Jordan-Heintz is back to talk about one of the subjects in her book Going Hollywood:Midwesterners In Movieland, actress Jean Seberg. Jean was from Sara’s hometown. Jean was discovered in a countrywide search to star in Otto Premingers Saint Joan. She was chosen a month before her eighteenth birthday. She had only acted in High School plays prior to her discovery. She got bad notices for her portrayal of Joan. She did another film Bonjour Tristesse where she got pretty bad notices. She really broke out when she was cast in Jean-Luc Godard‘s landmark film Breathless. It started new wave cinema in France.
Jean had a stormy life. Was married three time. She fell in love with Clint Eastwood while they were filming Paint Your Wagon. He dumped her when filming was over. For him it was just a film fling.
Jean caught the eye of J Edgar Hoover when she donated to The Black Panthers for feeding underprivileged children in a breakfast program. He then set out to destroy Jean. He tapped her phones, had huge files on her, and when she got pregnant he coordinated with some publishers to tell the masses Jean was having a Black Panthers baby. He advised waiting until Jean was showing, then L.A. times gossip columnist Joyce Haber published the article as did Newsweek. Soon after Jean lost the baby prematurely. She, feeling the pressure took her daughter in a glass casket to an Iowa church and had a showing for two days so people could see the baby was white. Jean tried to kill herself every year on the baby’s birthday. It’s a fascinating story and shows how much power J Edgar Hoover had in destroying lives. Jeans was truly tragic.
Thanks so much to Sara for coming on the show to discuss Jean.
Mostly thanks to you for tuning in.
Sara Jordan Heintz
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