Jeannette Clift George, actress & theater founder, 1925-2017
Art Toalston, Baptist Press
January 10, 2018

Jeannette Clift George, actress & theater founder, 1925-2017

Jeannette Clift George, actress & theater founder, 1925-2017
Art Toalston, Baptist Press
January 10, 2018

Jeannette Clift George, whose acting career included the film portrayal of Corrie ten Boom, a legendary Dutch woman sent to a Nazi concentration camp for sheltering Jews during World War II, will be honored Friday, Jan. 12, in a memorial service following her death on Dec. 28 at age 92.

Jeannette Clift George

The service for George, whose theater career began with students at Houston Baptist University (HBU) (then-College) as actress-in-residence, will be at Second Baptist Church.

The college’s A.D. Players, formed by George in 1967, became a nonprofit theater company in 1969 which she led as founder/artistic director, yet she remained a supporter of HBU’s drama students throughout her career.

The 1975 film “The Hiding Place,” based on ten Boom’s autobiographical book with the same title, was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s World Wide Pictures division. George was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance.

Corrie ten Boom’s sister died in a Nazi concentration camp and she never saw her father again after he was arrested by Nazi troops in the Netherlands.

Last year, 50 years after the founding of the A.D. Players, George lived to see the opening of the Jeannette & L.M. George Theater (named in honor of her husband Lorraine M. George who died in 2004) in Houston’s Galleria-Uptown area. The modern theater, encompassing 35,000 square feet, can seat 450 people.

An online obituary noted that George’s life “is best described in her own words … [that] challenged us ‘to be not merely receivers of God’s gifts but active conduits of their treasure.’”

She had prayed that “God would do something about the need for Christian theater,” yet, “I never meant me, but on the wind of the Holy Spirit many of us find ourselves serving surprising assignments.

“Trust God’s assignments,” George counseled. “He never assigns us to do what He has not already equipped us to do.”

As a child, George wanted to be an actress, “vowing to join the circus as a trapeze artist or sing as Madame Butterfly, carrying a Japanese parasol,” the obituary recounted, quoting George as later saying, “Never underestimate the dream of a child. Never sell your own dreams short. Turn them over to the Leading Actor, Who is the Christ. You are a beloved child whose dreams and hopes He holds as mysterious treasures considered carefully in His perfect plan.”

Billy Graham’s daughter Ruth said in filming The Hiding Place, George was “a treasure on and off the stage. She was a great friend to both of my parents, Billy and Ruth Bell Graham. But especially for Mother. My mother trusted their friendship perhaps as none other. Their friendship was a safe place for both – where confidences could be shared, silliness enjoyed and the scriptures explored. They shared their hearts. They were old-fashioned girlfriends. A lovely gift to both of them who so often had to be in the limelight.”

In addition to The Hiding Place, George’s career included performances with the New York Shakespeare Company, Playhouse in the Park in Philadelphia and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Her first A.D. Players performance in 1968 was in “IBID” and her last was in 2012 in “Whatever Happened to the Villa Real,” both of which she wrote.

George authored a number of books, including Behind the Hiding Place, Travel Tips from a Reluctant Traveler, Some Run with Feet of Clay, Daisy Petals and Troubling Deaf Heaven: Assurance in the Silence of God after the death of her husband.

She was a graduate of the University of Texas and had received honorary doctorates from Houston Baptist University and Dallas Baptist University.

Susan Santangelo, chair of A.D. Players’ board of directors and lifelong friend, said George’s talents as an actress, playwright, speaker and teacher were prolific. “Her legacy will live in the hearts of those whose lives she touched with these gifts and in the ongoing work of A.D. Players, which she founded and led for nearly five decades,” Santangelo said. “Those of us who knew and loved Jeannette well will remember her laughter, her winsome teaching, her lifelong passion for theater and her steadfast love for her Lord Jesus Christ.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press.)