Janine Turner was born into a lineage of Texans. Her father is from East Texas and her mother is from South Texas. Legend has it that her family on her paternal side traveled to Texas via the Trail of Tears through Tennessee. On her maternal side, legend has it that she is related to Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic of Texas. Janine is Texan to the core of her being. Janine’s career started in Texas -Dallas, Texas-at the ripe ‘ole age of three. She was spotted by Kim Dawson Modeling Agency and whisked into a fashion show. It has been said that she was a natural before the camera. Her childhood was normal in many ways sprinkled with the occasional magazine shoot, fashion show and commercial. She rode her bike to school, collected tadpoles with her brother in the creek behind their house and would swing and swing appraisin’ the single perfect puffy cloud in the blazin’ blue Texas sky.
Janine pursued academics with relish. She was a straight- A student and a cheerleader. After school she would ride her horse, visit their small farm outside of town, or dance. It was her passion for dance that led her to New York City. At the age of fifteen Janine went to New York City to dance for the summer and attend Broadway Musicals. Her favorite was A Chorus Line. She credits this musical as her inspiration to become an actress. While she was in New York City that summer she had a chance meeting with Wilhelmina Cooper the owner of the top New York City modeling agency. Wilhelmina asked Janine how quickly she could move to the city to sign with their agency. Janine said, “Give me one month.” Propelled by her pioneer spirit and sense of adventure Janine returned to New York City with her mother in tow at the age of fifteen. She was the youngest model to sign with the agency. Her parents instilled the values of work and money by insisting that she pay for her apartment and her private school with her modeling money that she had saved in Texas. They told her that when she was out of money she was to return home. She never ran out of money. She was busy with print ads and commercials. Her first commercial (after fifty auditions) was for Wyler’s lemonade, and her second was for Burger King. Janine loved New York City – though tough and gritty. She attended Professional Children’s School and found it to be intellectually stimulating. Her brother found her in the bathroom once at five in the morning studying French.
After a year, Janine’s mother wanted to return to Texas and Janine did miss her friends. God has a plan for everyone’s life and it was back in Texas that Janine got one of her first big acting breaks. She landed a role on the hit TV series, Dallas. She had a featured role in one of the highest rated TV shows ever- the season opener after JR was shot – Who Shot JR? Her line was to Lucy Ewing. She said, “I haven’t met your boyfriend yet?” Lucy retorted, “And you won’t.” Janine did a few more episodes of Dallas and it was the producer Leonard Katzman, combined with the Italian director Franco Zefferilli, (who screen tested her three times for the movie, Endless Love) that encouraged Janine to move to Hollywood.
Janine graduated from high school a year early and moved to Hollywood at the age of seventeen. Her first job was for the creator of Dallas, David Jacobs, in a late night soap opera, Behind the Screen, that aired on CBS. She was spotted on Behind the Screen by the casting director of General Hospital and was cast as Laura Templeton for a one year run. She was nineteen years old. As Laura Templeton, she walked around for a year in a trance due to that horrid David Grey. After a year, Janine yearned for more roles with depth, more respect; for both herself and her chosen profession; and more education. She attended Pepperdine University, making straight A’s, as she continued to do vacuous roles in what she calls, “the damsel in distress of the week.” Her college days were cut short, however, when she won the coveted role of Shavuan Tillman in the Dino De Laurentiis film, Tai-Pan , based on the James Clavell novel and co-starring Bryan Brown. At the age of twenty two, Janine traveled alone to communist China to film for three months.
Janine’s travels only fueled the flame to enhance her life. Upon her return from China, she decided to return to New York City, the city that had beckoned her as a young teenager. She cut her hair and found a wonderful acting coach, Marcia Haufrecht, who was a member of the Actor’s Studio when Lee Strasberg was at the helm, and Marilyn Monroe was a member. She began the journey of both self respect and respect for her profession. In between classes, Janine saw every art movie, strolled through museums, attended symphonies, operas, ballets and read voraciously. It was from New York City that Janine booked roles in the movies, Monkey Shines, Steel Magnolias and The Ambulance. (See: Filmography)
Though she worked, it was sporadic and in 1990 Janine was down to eight dollars and weary. She had been through twelve years of auditions and was beginning to feel like her big break in a truly worth while project was never going to manifest. Thankfully, in mid 1990, at the age of 27, she walked through the tunnel of turmoil and finally received her big break as Maggie O’Connell in CBS’ Northern Exposure. At last, a role of substance on a truly meaningful, truly special, truly intelligent show. Janine loved working on Northern Exposure. She lived in Seattle for five years filming six seasons. During this time she filmed Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone in the Italian Alps. She received three Golden Globe Best Actress nominations and one Emmy Nomination for best actress for her work on Northern Exposure. She was chosen as one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People and Ten Best Dressed, US magazine’s Ten Sexiest and Ten Most Beautiful and as one of Esquire magazine’s Women We Love. Janine treasured her years on Northern Exposure portraying the ground breaking character, Maggie O’Connell but when Rob Morrow left the show, she knew it would never be the same.
In 1995, Janine returned to her beloved Texas and started to cultivate her beloved ranch, Mockingbird Hill (See: Longhorns). Her post Northern Exposure years have taken her to Vancouver, Dublin, Venice, Toronto and Los Angeles. These travels have been for roles such as June Cleaver in the Universal film, Leave it to Beaver, movies of the week for CBS, ABC and TBS (See: Filmography), Robert Altman’s film Dr. T and the Women ( filmed in Texas) and two and a half years on Lifetime’s, Strong Medicine produced by Whoopie Goldberg and Tammy Ader. Her most cherished role of all, however, has been the role of mommy. Janine’s greatest joy in life, her greatest blessing has been the birth of her daughter, Juliette, in 1997.
Janine’s focus and devotion is on her daughter and all of her decisions are what she calls, “life decisions,” regarding her daughter’s well-being. Thus, she has made the conscious decision to raise her daughter in Texas so that Juliette may be near her family and friends. Upon their return in 2002 from Los Angeles, Janine has home schooled Juliette on her ranch but her creative fires are still burning. In 2002, Janine wrote and photographed a children’s book (See: Current Projects), she wrote, produced and made her directorial debut with her short film, Trip in a Summer Dress (See: Current Events), she starred in two independent movies, Birdie and Bogey, a Norris Family film directed by Mike Norris and No Regrets, www.noregretsmovie.com, a Curt Hahn film directed by Curt Hahn co-starring with Brad Johnson, Lari White and Robert Merrill, (See: Current Events) and she just wrote her first song with the talented songwriter, singer, musician, producer Phil Madeira as she prepares to launch her singing career. (She sang and danced in her church play this past Christmas). She, also, continues to cultivate her ranch and her passion for Longhorn cattle, (See: Longhorns). Janine’s main focus is her daughter and thus her newfound determination is to stay in Texas and manifest one of her next missions: produce, direct and act in projects in Texas – even if she has to create them all herself.
Copyright ©2003, Janine Turner