Jane Kesner Ardmore, journalist, novelist and ghost biographer for such stars as Eddie Cantor and Joan Crawford, has died at age 88.
Ardmore, who also wrote under the name Jane Morris, died Wednesday in Los Angeles of complications after hip surgery.
At the time of her death, according to her friend Jan Brown, Ardmore was editing her most recent manuscript, “Help! Help!” a book about living with housekeepers. Ardmore had recently donated her 50 years of research materials to the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The author of celebrity articles and books wrote her way through the University of Chicago as managing editor of the campus newspaper the Daily Maroon, and then went to work on the community newspaper the Woodlawn Booster.
“I’ve always been a writer,” she told The Times in 1957 on the eve of publication of “Take My Life,” the book she wrote with and about Cantor. “I wrote my first story when I was 10, my first triumph. It was titled ‘A Queer Thing I Used to Believe’ and told of a little man who sat up in his sky house grinding out the weather.”
Her other major biographies were “The Dress Doctor,” in 1959 with Hollywood costume designer Edith Head; “The Self Enchanted: Mae Murray, Image of an Era,” also in 1959, and Crawford’s 1962 autobiography “Portrait of Joan,” which earned the 1963 nonfiction prize from the National Federation of Press Women.
Ardmore also produced a steady stream of articles on Hollywood’s most popular stars--Michael Landon, Ingrid Bergman and daughter Isabella Rossellini, Jack Webb, Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Marlon Brando, Loretta Young and Rock Hudson among them. Her work was published by top magazines of her era such as the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, McCalls, Coronet, Parents’ Magazine, Readers Digest and Photoplay and the Los Angeles Times. She also wrote for The Times’ now defunct magazine, West, about the development of Palm Springs.
The prolific writer also penned novels. Her first book, “Women Inc.” in 1946, won the fiction prize from the Indiana University Writers Conference. She also wrote “Julie,” published in 1952, which was a Literary Guild selection as was “The Dress Doctor.”
Ardmore’s third novel, “To Love Is to Listen” in 1967, set in a home for senior citizens, was judged “refreshing” by a Times reviewer.
“Even though this realistic novel deals with old age and death,” the reviewer wrote, “it manages to have that most unusual bonus of a happy ending which avoids being sentimental and sticky. This is a distinguished novel of strength and beauty which speaks of love and integrity.”
Widowed in 1946 by the death of her first husband, film promotion man Ted Morris, she married public relations executive Albert Ardmore in 1951. He died in 1993.
Ardmore is survived by her daughter from her second marriage, Ellen, and a sister.
The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the American Red Cross.