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.
Read to Me
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 Hole. The 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.