Jo Van Fleet Overview:

Character actress, Jo Van Fleet, was born on Dec 30, 1914 in Oakland, CA. Van Fleet died at the age of 81 on Jun 10, 1996 in Queens, New York City .


Incisive and fiercely dominant, Jo Van Fleet made her name by playing women older than herself. Almost entirely a stage personality, she stopped off in Hollywood  just long enough to win an Academy Award for her first screen role as James Dean's mother (at 35) in "East of Eden".

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Illustrated Dictionary of Film Character Actors).



Jo Van Fleet was nominated for one Academy Award, winning for Best Supporting Actress for East of Eden (as Kate) in 1955.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1955Best Supporting ActressEast of Eden (1955)KateWon

She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures.

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Jo Van Fleet Quotes:

Arletta: Ya know, sometimes I wished people was like dogs, Luke.

[alcoholic Lillian is desperate for a drink - mother drops the glass bottle on the floor, shattering it]
Lillian Roth: OH! Look what ya did! And ya DID IT ON PURPOSE! You're still trying to make me do what you want, to be what you want! I can't be anything except what I am! Look, look what did you drop that bottle for? What are you trying to do, drive me crazy? Go on, GET THE BOTTLE! GET IT NOW!
Katie Roth: All right! All right! All right, it's my fault, huh? I made you become an actress, you didn't want to, all right. I've been a bad mother, you had to support me, all right! All right! ALL RIGHT, EVERYTHING! Just this, and for once in your life you're gonna hear it! Do you know at all why I did it, do you? No you don't! Do you know what kind of a life I had, do you know what it was like to live with your father, put up with his mistakes and afterwards to be left alone with nothing? No money, no career, not young anymore, nothing to fall back on? No you don't! You don't know at all what I tried to save you from, the kind of freedom I never had! I tried to give to you by making you LILLIAN ROTH!
Lillian Roth: So you admit it! You invented Lillian Roth! All right, now look at me. I said look at me, don't turn your face away! I'm the looking glass you created to see yourself in! All right, all right see yourself now in me! Look at this ugly picture! And then GET OUTTA HERE! But keep this picture before your face for as LONG AS YOU LIVE!
Katie Roth: It's true! Oh, God help me! I owe you this. Every single word of it is true.

Chuck Glover: [Referring to his drunkenness] I apologize for the other night.
Ella Garth: First and only time I ever liked you!
[Slams the door in his face]

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Best Supporting Actress Oscar 1955

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Jo Van Fleet on the
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Jo Van Fleet Facts
Played the role of the Stepmother in the 1965 television remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, but was replaced by another (uncredited) actress when the cast album was recorded.

Was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) in 1958 for "Look Homeward, Angel."

One son, Michael Bales.

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