Jeanne Bates (May 21, 1918 – November 28, 2007) was an American radio, film and television actress. She signed a contract withColumbia Pictures in 1942 which began her career in films both in bit parts and larger roles.
She began her acting career while attending San Mateo Junior College, with roles on radio soap operas produced in San Francisco. Bates had the lead role, and supplied the signature scream, on the radio mystery series Whodunit. In 1943, she married the writer of Whodunit, Lew X. Lansworth (1904-1981).
She also had her film debut in 1943, in a Boston Blackie mystery, The Chance of a Lifetime. She played Bela Lugosi's first victim in The Return of the Vampire (1943), Diana Palmer in The Phantom (1943), and she had a minor role in Death of a Salesman (1951).
Bates worked steadily in television beginning in the 1950s, including an appearance on the syndicated western series, The Range Rider, and thereafter on episodes of NBC'sBuckskin, Riverboat, and Peter Gunn, as well as the crime drama, Sheriff of Cochise, and the aviation adventure series, Sky King and Whirlybirds.
In the series premiere, "The Ferris Wheel" (September 23, 1958) of the syndicated television series, Rescue 8, starring Jim Davis and Lang Jeffries, Bates played a woman recently released from a mental institution who is trapped at the top of a Ferris wheel with her young daughter, portrayed by Gina Gillespie. Rand Brooks guest stars in the episode as Tom Hickey. That year she made three appearances on Perry Mason, most notably as Jean Strague in "The Case of the Buried Clock."
In 1960, she was cast as Mrs. Grandsoir in the episode "Mrs. Viner Vanishes" of the ABC/Warner Brothers crime drama, Bourbon Street Beat, starring Andrew Duggan. She is more remembered for having portrayed Nurse Wills on the ABC medical drama, Ben Casey, from 1961 to 1966. She appeared with John Payne in various roles in five episodes of his NBC western series, The Restless Gun, and also guest starred as Mrs. Wayne in the Rawhide episode "Incident of the Tinkers Dam".
Bates, who also taught acting, appeared in 1977 as Mrs. X in David Lynch's Eraserhead. Her last roles were small parts in Die Hard 2 (1992) and Mulholland Drive (2001).
She died of breast cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.