Star of Film, Television and Stage passed away peacefully Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 after a long illness. She fought the good fight for a few years and is now happily released from pain and struggle. Surviving her is her son George Brown, daughter-in-law Lauren Shpall and many dear friends and family. Janet is pre deceased by her son Tom Brown (1978) and her parents George and Hilda Thiese (2010)
Janet began her stage career right out of high school at the legendary Kansas City Starlight Theatre, appearing in numerous productions there as well as in local Chicago theatres. She appeared in: Mame, Hello Dolly, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, Pajama Game, Carousel, Gypsy and many others before moving to California and continuing her stage work there. Other notable productions include: Lady Windemere's Fan with Lynn Redgrave and John Lithgow, A Couple of White Chicks co-starring Cloris Leachman, and Electra, for which she received the coveted Los Angeles Drama Logue Critics' Award. She made her Broadway debut starring alongside Sutton Foster and Maureen McGovern in the original musical Little Women.
Janet's big film break came when she was cast as Tom Cruise's mother in Risky Business. From that point on she stayed an extremely busy film actress. Film credits include: Memories of Me, Destiny Turns on the Radio, Family Business, Talent for the Game, Enough, The Killing Time, Forces of Nature and My Guaranteed Student Loan. She had recurring or starring roles in the following television series: Married With Children, Murphy Brown, Melrose Place, The Bronx Zoo and The Bonnie Hunt Show among others. She also appeared on such shows as: Brothers and Sisters, Mary, Designing Women, Matlock, Third Rock from the Sun, Law & Order SVU, and Scrubs.
Her list of co-stars reads like a Who's Who of Hollywood: Sean Connery, Celeste Holm, Dustin Hoffman, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner and Edward James Olmos, to name but a few.
Janet was the Artistic Director of The Jazz Series at Simi Valley Cultural Center for eight years. She happily performed on tour with The Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band, recorded a few albums -- her latest being Lady Be Good which she released at Feinstein's in 2011. Janet was also the co founder of The Victory Ball in Westport, CT, annually benefiting ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and she served on the executive board of
directors for Ginny Mancini's Society of Singers as VP of Development. Along the way, Janet became an ordained minister and performed many wedding and funeral services, and never passed up an opportunity to sing in the church choir.
A memorial service will be held at Advent Lutheran Church, located at 93rd and Broadway in Manhattan this Saturday. Her ashes will be spread in the Edgebrook Lutheran Church Memorial Garden alongside her parents in Chicago, Illinois in a ceremony to take place on June 10th.