Jeanna Michaels Obituary – Following a brief and courageous fight against cancer, actress Jeanna Michaels passed away on May 23. It was the year 62. According to what Michael said in her bio on the Compass Players website, “My passion for make-believe, my crude theatrical talent, and my friends (imaginary and otherwise) were what started me in productions from Coast to Coast.” She was the pioneer of the organization and served as its Producing Artistic Director. My family relocated from Manchester, Connecticut to the San Fernando Valley in California when I was a little child.
After that, my living room shows developed to productions that won awards in both high school and college. It was a stroke of good luck that led to my admission to UCLA’s Theater Arts program. There, I was instructed by Michael Gordon in both the technical aspects of theatrical production and the financial side of the industry. Stella Adler, Michael Shurtleff, and Ken McMillan were among the many other influential people in my life who served as mentors to me.
They transformed me from a timid and awkward adolescent into one of the million or so aspiring actors vying for work, ALL of whom are brilliant, but ONLY SOME of whom are fortunate enough to get employment. Michaels moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s in search of work in the television industry. Within a period of six months, she was given the credit “and introducing Jeanna Michaels” on the show Eight Is Enough. Almost immediately after that, she became a recurrent regular on Dallas for the first three years, playing the role of Connie Brasher, Bobby Ewing’s secretary.
Michaels made light of the situation by saying, “The ethical issues at Ewing Oil drove me to look for other work” (LOL). After that, she was cast as the lead in an episode of the television miniseries The Last Convertible, which also starred Perry King, Deborah Raffin, Michael Nouri, Kim Darby, Bruce Boxleitner, and Sharon Gless.
After that, she was typecast for a whole year as the insane and suicidal nymphomaniac Karen Richards on the soap opera The Young and the Restless. After that, she went on to portray the part of Constance Townley on General Hospital. Townley was an undercover spy who was working covertly with Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) while reporting to Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers). Townley’s boss was Robert Scorpio. She had a recurring role as Lydia Saunders on Santa Barbara in the late 1980s. Additionally, she played Madame Rosa in the show Generations.
She appeared on Who’s the Boss, Matlock, Hunter, Jake and the Fatman, CHiPs, Knightrider, and Scene of the Crime with Orson Welles over the course of a number of years in guest starring roles. After that, she went back to her origins by assisting Michael Shurtleff in the construction of The Night Flight Theater in Hollywood and Burbank, and then she assisted in the construction of The Road Theater in North Hollywood.
In March, the romantic comedy “West Palm Prime,” written by Cynthia J. Cohen and presented by Compass Players at TheaterWorks at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, brought the company to the successful conclusion of its second three-play season, which had been staged there. Before becoming unwell, Michaels was working on the schedule for the 2019 season when she suddenly fell ill.