It can be argued that the world's most beautiful women come from England. Look around this site for a bit and you'll see much evidence in favor of that. My assertions on that subject were solidified long before this place even existed. Growing up with beauties like Jane Seymour splashing their radiance across our TV and movie screens, how could an impressionable youth come to any other conclusion? One of the most desired Bond girls in the history of the franchise and a beloved TV character several times over, Jane has also been the poster girl for graceful aging for decades. After almost 50 years in the business and over 100 productions, she's built herself a career and legacy of beauty few have ever had anything but good things to say about.
The ironic thing about this English rose is that she's not English at all. Born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg on Feb. 15, 1951 in Hayes, Middlesex, England, she is the daughter of Jewish obstetrician John Benjamin Frankenberg, who's family came to England from Poland, and Dutch nurse Mieke van Trigt. While not technically English, young Joyce had a very English upbringing in post war middle class England. She studied acting as part of her schooling at Arts Educational School in Tring, Hertfordshire, immediately drawing attention with her breathtaking looks. Her first uncredited part came with the 1969 film adaptation of the Charles Chilton play OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR. Barely 18 at the time, this modest beginning became the start of a long-lasting career, within which hardly a year has gone by where she isn't appearing in something.
It wasn't long after she appeared in her first film that the newly christened Jane Seymour (after the 3rd wife of King Henry VIII of England) married Michael Attenborough, the son of that film's famous director, Richard Attenborough. This proved to be a very short-lived union, the first of 3 marriages to follow. The next year brought Jane her first major film credit via the film THE ONLY WAY, a Danish production about a Jewish family trying to escape from Denmark before the German occupation. From there she became a regular in various UK film and television productions, reuniting with director Attenborough for his Winston Churchill biopic YOUNG WINSTON in 1972. By 1973, her marriage to the younger Attenborough had run its course, though bigger and better things were just around the bend for her.
Earlier, in 1972, Jane's exceptional beauty and talent caught the eye of producer Albert R. Broccoli, the patriarch of the movie-making family best known for the James Bond films. Looking for a bright young girl to star alongside his newly cast Bond, Roger Moore, Broccoli was quickly sold on young Jane for the role. Thus her entry onto the international scene via the 1973 film LIVE AND LET DIE. Cast as tarot card reader Solitaire, Jane's stunning beauty made her an instant hit with audiences and one of Bond's most beloved conquests.
The subsequent 007 boost to Jane's career brought her across the pond to Hollywood, where she parlayed her new fame into a mixture of movie and TV work on both sides of the Atlantic. Some of her first post-Bond American movie roles were in genre films, among them sci-fi adventures like the Ray Harryhausen cult classic SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER. Her first American TV roles came with shows like the original Battlestar Galactica, in which she played Serina, the doomed love interest of Richard Hatch's character Apollo. She soon became a common face in several US TV movies and miniseries, playing an undercover journalist in the 1979 TV movie Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. In 1980, she starred opposite Chevy Chase and canine phenom Benji in the family adventure OH HEAVENLY DOG. 1980 was also the year Jane starred with Christopher Reeve in the romantic fantasy SOMEWHERE IN TIME, in which Reeve's playwright character goes back in time and falls for an early-20th-Century actress played by Jane. The historical drama made good friends of Jane and Reeve. Although it initially did little business, the film became a cult hit years later. It's historical overtones proved to be a vanguard for many a similar role Jane went on to play in subsequent years.
By the early to mid 1980s, Jane's career had taken on that decidedly historical slant with a succession of TV movies based on famous works of fiction. She first played Kate Trask and Cathy Ames in a TV version of the John Steinbeck novel East of Eden. She had large roles in remakes of period classics like The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1982 and The Phantom of the Opera in 1983. Jayne played Brett Ashley in a TV adaptation of the Hemingway classic The Sun Also Rises in 1984 and starred opposite Michael Caine in the miniseries Jack the Ripper in 1988. The following year she starred as an American Jew trapped in Poland during the Nazi invasion in the WWII epic mini-series War and Remembrance. She was quite literally a walking, talking book store and history lesson throughout the 1980s.
By the early 1990s Jane had become the reigning monarch of the TV movie, gradually making the move from network TV into the ever growing ranks of cable TV networks. One of her first forays into this arena of TV work was her 1992 "woman in jeopardy" movie Sunstroke, which she also executive produced. Her producer role had her working closely with the movie's director, James Keach, actor-producer brother of actor Stacey Keach. Having just divorced her third husband earlier that year, Jane and Keach began a relationship which grew quickly. The two married in 1993, which was the same year Jane played the role that would become the most beloved and well remembered of her career thus far. And just like so many of the roles that came before, this one had a historical slant.
Jane's time as Doctor Michaela 'Mike" Quinn on the CBS hit Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman proved to be a career-defining role. The show beloved of everyone's mom back in the day, it achieved much of its success thanks to Jane's portrayal of the Boston born high society lady transplanted into old west Colorado. A heaping helping of hunk in the way of wild west rogue Byron Sully didn't hurt the show's popularity with female viewers. Nor did their characters' smoldering romance which lasted throughout the series' run. In between her time as Dr. Quinn, Jane somehow managed to birth twin boys, Johnny and Kristopher, the later named after her SOMEWHERE IN TIME co-star, who was tragically paralyzed that same year. She also authored several children's books with her husband and continued to star in other TV productions. Jane was awarded the status as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1999, making her officially Lady Jane Seymour, much like her royal predecessor 462 years before. Dr. Quinn's run began to wind down by the late 90s, wrapping production in 1998 after 6 seasons. Two Dr. Quinn TV movies followed before the show finally ended for good in 2001.
Jane has been just a prolific in the 21st century. Among her many TV roles was her role as a conniving mother on the inexplicably long-lasting teenage Superman drama Smallville in 2004, as well as guest star roles on several shows like How I Met Your Mother and Law & Order: SVU. Probably her best role from this time was her portrayal of a lusty cougar in 2005's WEDDING CRASHERS, pursuing a ridiculously reluctant Owen Wilson. Jane's extremely memorable disrobing scene and its failure to confound younger man Owen's resolve to avoid her advances, made their scene both the most memorable and probably the most unrealistic moment of that year, if not the whole decade. Recent years have seen Jane give much more love to moviegoers, however TV remains one of her most prolific genres, with several series, TV movies and guest appearances to her name in just the last few years.
Sadly, last year brought news that Jane and her husband James were ending their 20-year marriage. Truly the end of an era for the 62-year-old mother, actress and sex symbol. Yet by no means is it the end of her run in any of those capacities. With more movie roles, TV shows and other projects in the works, she's nowhere close to slowing down as an actress. And as her recent cover of Closer magazine attests, she's also not done with being a hottie. After all these years, it feels good to know Jane can still bring it as a babe. Kind of makes all of us with more than a few years behind us feel a little bit younger.