On This Day – January 12

Jane Novak

Jane Novak (Johana Barbara Novak) was born on this day in 1896 to Joseph and Barbara Novak. Her parents both immigrated to the United States from Bohemia, modern day Czech Republic. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri with her three sisters and two brothers. Her aunt was actress Anne Schaefer, who in 1915, invited Jane to come to California.

When she arrived in California, she met actor Frank Newburg. He took her to see her aunt who was performing in a Vitagraph production at the time. The director saw her and asked to her to be in a scene, she agreed and a star was born.  Her younger sister Eva soon joined her in California and she too began acting in films.

Jane and Frank  were married 1915. They had one daughter and divorced in 1920. The following year, she got engaged to the great western star William S. Hart, but that union never came to fruition. She never remarried.

In 1924 she and fellow actress Gertrude Ryan sailed for Europe, so that Jane could star in a British-German collaboration in Berlin called, The Blackguard (Die Prinzessin und der Geiger).  The film was written by Alfred Hitchcock and they became good friends.

Jane appeared in a few sound films, including a bit part in Alfred Hitchcock’s, Foreign Correspondent, in 1940.  In 1974, she published a cookbook comprised of her own recipes called, ‘Treasury of Chicken Cookery’.

She passed away in Woodland Hills, California on February 1, 1990 at the age of 94. Her sister Eva preceded her in death in 1988.

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