This standout Wagon Train guest star was an early proponent of plastic surgery

Jan Sterling openly discussed her nose job in public. She also stole scenes as ''Annie Griffith'' on the hit Western.

Flint McCullough (Robert Horton) is scouting in Shoshone country when he is shot. A mysterious woman in the wild drags him to shelter and nurses him back to health. But she has motivation — she wants to barter Flint with the Native Americans for safe passage through the territory. Oh, and there is the little matter of Flint having just killed her husband.

Jan Sterling dazzles in the title role of Annie Griffith (that's Annie, not Andy) in "The Annie Griffith Story," a steller season-two episode of Wagon Train. True West Magazine said of this installment, "Possibly the best episode in the season is the one that stars the criminally underappreciated Jan Sterling." We won't argue. Sterling is, well, sterling.

The actress was a starlet on the silver screen. Perhaps her most lasting movie role had hit theaters three years before her Wagon Train turn, in the 1956 adaption of 1984, the dystopian George Orwell tale. She played Julia of the Outer Party, the female lead.

But Sterling had many other scene-stealing roles in the Fifties. Her breakout came in the 1950 film noir Appointment with Danger, a notable crime drama that cast Jack Webb and Harry Morgan — future Dragnet cops and costars — as bad guys! A year later, she volleyed sharp dialogue with Kirk Douglas in Billy Wilder's wonderful Ace in the HoleThe High and the Mighty (1954) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination.

So, in short, Sterling was a major movie star of the Fifties.

Which is what made it so rare and refreshing to hear her talk openly about plastic surgery. It's no secret Hollywood actors have work done — but they rarely admit it.

On the other hand, in 1959, a few months after her Wagon Train appearance, Sterling discussed plastic surgery with newspaper writer Lydia Lane for her "Hollywood Beauty" column.

"I remember after her nose bob [sic] how courageously she appeared on TV and encouraged other women to take advantage of plastic surgery," Lane wrote. You can see the before and after in the images above.

"If you want to be beautiful you can," Sterling said. "I happen to have been blessed with good teeth, but those who aren't can take advantage of the wonderful things dentists can do today."

We don't necessarily agree with her takes or advocate all she advocated, but we do find her frankness fascinating. 

She went on to talk about her bleeding gums and how she dealt with her gingival troubles. She admitted to having a "complex" about her younger sister being "prettier" and getting more attention at sock hops in high school. "I get massages four or five times a week and love it," she boasted. "I can lose five pounds in two days."

Much of what she went on to say about beauty standards and societal roles was, well, very 1950s. Yet, her willingness to speak openly to columnists was rather unique. She may have been a product of her time, but Sterling would have loved social media.

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Sooner 30 months ago
She luckily had a good surgeon. Most plastic surgery leaves women looking deformed and unlike themselves, which is ironic since they are trying to retain their youthful look. My pet peeve is the collagen in the lips. What a freakish look it gives women, young and old.
Tornado Sooner 29 months ago
There are people who confuse plastic & reconstructive surgery with cosmetic surgery and aesthetic surgery. The latter 2 require no residency training where as Plastic & Reconstructive surgery require its own 3 year residency and a 3 year surgical residency (3 years training to become a surgeon) and 3 years to become a plastic surgeon. any doctor can Open up shop as an aesthetic surgeon, or cosmetic surgeon, there are NO state medical board requirements to be either. but each state has requirements for plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Filmnoirfan 31 months ago
Thought she was very good in several Alfred Hitchcock episodes
Tornado 32 months ago
This story is even more current;. A lady who was about to take college classes, sociology, signed up for mine in Austin Texas she was very cute and I did not know who she was as I'd never seen her movies. she had already starred in a movie with Patrick Swayze, Red Dawn. just a short time after she signed up for my classes she cancelled them. I asked why and she says she's going to do a movie, which turned out to be Dirty Dancing. She could not tell me the name of the movie at that time I still did not recognize her when she gave me her name, Jennifer Grey.
I still think she was cuter before her nose job. What was even more ironic I had just finished a three-year relationship with a captain in the Air Force finishing her residency in plastic surgery. the Captain moved on to Dayton Ohio and I moved to Austin Texas.
Even more ironic the man Grey married had a last name like my first GREGG.
37 months ago
Was it Marilyn Monroe who observed "You have to be pretty smart to play a dumb blonde?" Jan "Sterling" was not up to the job. Her performance in "Caged" was an embarrassment.
LH 37 months ago
Is it just me or does anybody else think she looked better before? She had a nice nose.
Dina LH 35 months ago
It was a great nose, it just didn't look pert, I suppose. To me, her post-surgery picture looks like she had an injury to her nose. But, she was clearly pleased with it and as far as we know, it helped her career so it all worked out.
Xsquid LH 20 months ago
I agree, I like the before best.
Laramiewashisname1958 37 months ago
I remember that episode. I thought Jan was so beautiful. She played the part very well.
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F5Twitster 37 months ago
"'I remember after her nose bob [sic] how courageously she appeared on TV and encouraged other women to take advantage of plastic surgery,' Lane wrote."

No,Sterling didn't mean to say "nose JOB," SHE MEANT BOB, i.e. the shortening of something, in this case someone's nose via surgery.
Andybandit 37 months ago
Nice story. Even though I don't know she is. Wagon train is not one of my favorite western. Sorry about that.
LH Andybandit 37 months ago
I never saw one episode of wagon train.
MrsPhilHarris 37 months ago
Looks like one of those dreadful, super narrow, 1950s nose jobs with the triangle nostrils. There always seems to be a witness with this nose on the stand on Perry Mason.
LH MrsPhilHarris 37 months ago
I agree… I commented earlier that I actually think she looked better with her first nose! So sad… But people have to do what they feel like looks best on them I guess
MrsPhilHarris 37 months ago
It was always the actresses on Perry Mason who sported the dreadful nose jobs you described. The male actors seemed not whit embarrassed by their schnozzes and Brooklynese accents. I love that show!
MrsPhilHarris Pilaf 37 months ago
I do too! Love the whole look from the auto courts and lunch counters, to the swanky parties and chic clothing, to Paul Drake saying “Hello beautiful”.
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MichaelSkaggs 37 months ago
I believe some comments have been removed.
birddog 37 months ago
Thanks Metv knew and watched the episode but had no real clue who she was! Enjoyed the read:)
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