Jean Peters’ Cause of Death: The Tragic End of a Hollywood Star

Jean Peters was a beautiful and talented actress who rose to fame in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a star of 20th Century Fox. She was known for her roles in films such as Captain from Castile, Pickup on South Street, and Apache. She was also the second wife of the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, whom she married in 1957 and divorced in 1971. However, her life was not as glamorous as it seemed. She suffered from leukemia, a type of blood cancer, and died at the age of 73 in 2000. Here is a brief overview of her life, career, and death.

Early Life and Career

Jean Peters was born Elizabeth Jean Peters on October 15, 1926, in East Canton, Ohio. She was the eldest daughter of Elizabeth and Gerald Peters, a laundry manager. She had a younger sister, Shirley. She grew up on a small farm and attended East Canton High School. She was a Methodist and a tomboy who loved sports and animals. She went to college at the University of Michigan and later Ohio State University, where she studied to become a teacher and majored in literature.

While studying at Ohio State, she entered and won the Miss Ohio State Pageant in the fall of 1945, besting 11 other finalists. Sponsored by photographer Paul Robinson, she was awarded the grand prize of a screen test with 20th Century-Fox. As her agent, Robinson accompanied Peters to Hollywood, and helped her secure a seven-year contract with Fox. She dropped out of college to become an actress, a decision she later regretted.

She made her film debut in 1947 as the female lead in Captain from Castile opposite Tyrone Power. The film was a hit and launched her career as a star. She received star treatment during the filming and came to the attention of Howard Hughes, who started dating her discreetly. She continued to live an unpretentious lifestyle, rarely seen in public and eschewing the Hollywood nightlife and parties.

She appeared in several films for Fox in the next few years, playing mostly unglamorous, down-to-earth women who were often involved in action or adventure. Some of her notable films include Deep Waters (1948), Anne of the Indies (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), Niagara (1953), Broken Lance (1954), and A Man Called Peter (1955). She was praised for her acting skills, versatility, and natural beauty.

Marriage to Howard Hughes

In 1957, after dating for almost a decade, Jean Peters married Howard Hughes, one of the richest and most powerful men in America. Hughes was an aviator, inventor, businessman, film producer, and philanthropist who owned several companies and properties. He was also notoriously reclusive, eccentric, paranoid, and obsessive-compulsive.

The marriage was kept secret from the public and even from some of their friends and family members. Peters retired from acting after her marriage and devoted herself to Hughes. She lived with him in various locations around the world, often isolated from society and under tight security. She tried to cope with his erratic behavior and health problems, but their relationship became strained over time.

In 1971, after 14 years of marriage, Peters divorced Hughes. The divorce was also kept secret until 1976, when Hughes died. Peters received a settlement of $70 million from Hughes’ estate. She later married Stan Hough, a 20th Century Fox executive whom she had known since her acting days. They remained married until his death in 1990.

Death from Leukemia

In the late 1990s, Jean Peters was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of cancer that affects the blood cells. She underwent chemotherapy and other treatments, but her condition worsened over time. She died on October 13, 2000, at her home in Carlsbad, California. She was 73 years old.

She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Her grave is marked with a simple headstone that reads “Jean Hough”. Her death was not widely reported by the media until several months later.

Jean Peters was a talented actress who left behind a legacy of memorable films. She was also a loyal wife who endured a difficult marriage with Howard Hughes. She lived a private life away from the spotlight and died quietly from leukemia. She was a Hollywood star who shone brightly but briefly on the screen.

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