Who is Jill St. John?
Jill St. John is an American actress best known for her roles in a variety of films and television shows. She gained fame for her performance as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever”, in addition to many other roles she’s had in her career.
Jill St. John Wiki: Age, Childhood, and Education
Jill St. John, whose birth name was Jill Arlyn Oppenheim, was born on 19 August 1940, in Los Angeles, California, USA. Her parents, Edward Oppenheim, a restaurateur from New York, and Betty (née Goldberg), a philanthropist from Philadelphia, tied the knot in 1934. Jill didn’t have any siblings but grew up with many cousins, as her mother was one of eight surviving children. Her maternal grandparents had Russian ancestry and partial Jewish descent, while her paternal great-great-grandparents had immigrated from Hessen, Germany.
During her upbringing in Encino, Jill’s passion for the performing arts was evident. She became a member of the Children’s Ballet Company, where she shared the stage with future acclaimed actresses Natalie Wood and Stefanie Powers.
At 13, her mother Betty, decided to change Jill’s last name to the more marketable “St. John”. This change marked the beginning of Jill St. John’s remarkable journey as an actress, leaving a lasting impact on Hollywood.
Beginnings as a Child Actress
Jill started acting at age six on the radio, and made her screen debut at nine in “The Christmas Carol”, her first full-length TV movie. She appeared in various TV shows and a film, and at 14, she matriculated from Hollywood Professional School, and with an IQ of 162, she enrolled at UCLA’s Extension School at 15. St. John also had notable roles in radio shows, including “One Man’s Family”; these early achievements set the stage for her future success in the entertainment industry.
At 16, Jill landed a significant opportunity when Universal Pictures signed her to a seven-year contract starting at $200 a week, marking her entry into the major studio film industry, in which her debut came in the film “Summer Love” (1958), in which she starred alongside John Saxon.
Alongside her film ventures, she also made appearances in various TV shows, including “Schlitz Playhouse” and “The DuPont Show of the Month” among others.
Transition to Adult Roles
In 1959, Jill St. John signed a contract with 20th Century Fox, aiming to build her into a star, and she starred in two films. In “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker”, she portrayed Kate Pennypacker, the daughter of Clifton Webb’s character. The film follows Mr. Pennypacker, a wealthy man with two families who must keep his secret hidden. In the romantic comedy “Holiday for Lovers”, St. John played the role of Meg Dean, in the story revolving around a married couple traveling to South America, where their daughter Meg gets entangled in a romantic relationship, leading to comedic complications.
Besides these projects, in 1961 Jill was also borrowed by Warner Bros. for the film “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone”, appearing in the drama alongside Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty, playing the role of Barbara Bingham, a young woman involved in a complex relationship with a wealthy older woman.
In 1962, Jill starred as Rosemary Hoyt in “Tender Is the Night” alongside co-stars Jason Robards and Jennifer Jones. The film follows the complicated relationship between a psychiatrist and his mentally unstable wife during the 1920s on the French Riviera.
The following year, she appeared as Peggy John in “Come Blow Your Horn” alongside co-stars Frank Sinatra and Lee J. Cobb. This comedy film, based on a Neil Simon play, revolves around the life of a young man living with his playboy brother; her outstanding performance earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, solidifying her status as a talented and recognized actress in the industry.
Rise to Stardom
In subsequent years, Jill St. John continued to showcase her acting prowess in various films. During the 1960s, Jill St. John’s career continued to flourish as she starred in several films alongside notable co-stars. In 1963, she portrayed Barbara Tuttle in “Who’s Minding the Store?” alongside the comedy genius Jerry Lewis, in the film revolving around a bumbling young man causing chaos at the department store where he works.
The same year, as Toby Tobler she shared the screen with Dean Martin in “Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?”, a comedy which follows a television actor whose life becomes complicated when his ex-wife writes a best-selling tell-all book about their marriage.
In 1964, Jill St. John starred as Sherry Nugent in “Honeymoon Hotel” alongside Robert Morse. The film revolves around a hotel manager’s scheme to boost business by offering honeymoon suites to unmarried couples.
The following year, in “The Liquidator”, she appeared as Iris MacIntosh, starring opposite Rod Taylor. The film follows a British secret agent on a mission to take down a group of international assassins.
Continuing her successful run, she portrayed Laurel Scott in “The Oscar” (1966) alongside Stephen Boyd – the movie delves into the ruthless competition among actors for the prestigious Academy Award.
In 1967, Jill St. John showcased her comedic talent alongside Bob Hope in “Eight on the Lam”, in which she played Monica. The film involves a bank teller caught in a series of misadventures after discovering his estranged daughter is held by criminals.
Additionally, she starred as Angela Barr in “Banning” alongside Robert Wagner, in which a woman attempts to prevent her sister from marrying a fortune hunter.
The same year, she displayed her adventurous side as Mistress Jessica Stephens in “The King’s Pirate”, co-starring with Doug McClure in a swashbuckling tale of pirates and buried treasure. Moreover, Jill starred as Ann Archer in the detective drama film “Tony Rome” starring Frank Sinatra, which follows a private investigator hired to find a missing diamond pin.
St. John’s dedication and talent in the entertainment industry eventually led to a significant milestone in her career. In 1971, her hard work paid off when she was chosen to play the iconic Bond girl role of Tiffany Case in the film “Diamonds Are Forever”. Opposite Sean Connery’s James Bond, St. John’s portrayal of Tiffany further solidified her status as a prominent actress, and cemented her place in the legendary James Bond franchise.
During the 1970s, Jill St. John shifted her focus to television, taking on a variety of roles. In 1971, she appeared in “The Red Skelton Hour” as Freida, and starred as Andrea Winters in the TV movie “Decisions! Decisions!”
In 1973, she played Miss Roberts in “Old Faithful” and portrayed Molly in “Saga of Sonora”.
Continuing her television work, Jill St. John starred in the title role “Brenda Starr” in 1976, and played Fran Sullivan in “Telethon” in 1977.
In 1979, she took on the role of Sylvia Maxwell in the popular TV series “Hart to Hart”. Additionally, from 1979 to 1982, St. John made guest appearances in various roles in “The Love Boat”, including Laura, Sandy Wilson, Claire Dalrymple and Mitzi De Risi.
Jill St. John’s acting career continued to thrive throughout the ’80s and ’90s, remaining very active until the early 2000s, securing a number of notable roles in the process.
In 1980, she appeared as Mavis Graham in “Vega$”, while in 1982, St. John guest-starred as Jan Kona in an episode of “Magnum, P.I.” and played Miss Demandt in the TV movie “Two Guys from Muck”. The same year, she also starred as Joanna Van Eegan in “Rooster”, and portrayed Karen Ann Douglas in an episode of “Matt Houston” entitled “X-22”.
From 1983 to 1984, Jill St. John had the recurring role of Deanna Kincaid in “Emerald Point N.A.S.”, appearing in 19 episodes, then in 1986, she portrayed Mara Giardino in two episodes of “Dempsey and Makepeace”.
In 1988, she appeared as Rachel Capstone in an episode of “J.J. Starbucks” entitled “A Song from the Sequel”, and the following year she took on the role of a Woman mistaken for Princess Aouda in the miniseries “Around the World in 80 Days”.
Continuing her television work, St. John starred as Bunny Wells in the TV movie “Out There” in 1995 and made a memorable guest appearance as Mrs Abbott in an episode of “Seinfeld” in 1997.
Her first role in five years was when she played Mary Oakley in “The Trip”. She returned briefly in 2014 to make a delightful appearance as Mrs Claus in the TV movie “Northpole”, co-starring Robert Wagner as Santa, as they try to spread happiness around the world.
According to authoritative sources, Jill St. John’s net worth is estimated at $20 million, as of mid-2023.
Personal Life, Marriages, Husbands, Children
Jill St. John’s love life has seen its share of ups and downs, marked by four marriages to prominent figures. At the tender age of 16, she eloped with Neil Dubin, heir to a linen fortune, but the marriage ended in divorce the following year amid allegations of harassment and ridicule. Her second marriage, 1960-’63, to Lance Reventlow, son of Barbara Hutton and heir to the F. W. Woolworth fortune, also faced a similar fate, resulting in a settlement; despite the divorce and subsequent remarriages, St. John still refers to Reventlow as “my late husband” in interviews, indicating the significance of their bond. Her marriage to singer Jack Jones (1967-’69) faced challenges due to the demands of his career and extensive travel. However, her enduring and most cherished relationship has been with Robert Wagner, whom she met in 1959 while both were contract players at 20th Century Fox. They finally tied the knot in 1990 and are still together.
In addition to her marriages, Jill St. John has dated a number of prominent figures, from sportsmen to businessmen and actors. Some of the names include Gianni Bulgari, Robert Evans, Peter Lawford, George Lazenby, Roman Polanski, Tom Selleck, Frank Sinatra, Adam West, Jack Nicholson, Jack Haley Jr., among many others.
Appearance and Body Measurements
Jill St. John has red hair and hazel eyes. She stands at a height of 5ft 6ins (1.68m), weighs approximately 120lbs (54kgs), with vital statistics of 39-19-36, bra size 36C.