IRVINE, CA - Jeanne Carmen, the "little country girl" who became a 1950s pinup and actress and hobnobbed with Frank Sinatra and other stars, has died. She was 77.
Son Branden James says Carmen died of lymphoma Thursday at her Orange County home.
Born on August 4, 1930, in Paragould, Arkansas, Carmen picked cotton with her family before running away at 13.
Carmen was still a teenager when she came to New York and, despite having no show business experience, immediately became a dancer in a Broadway show called "Burlesque," with comic Burt Lahr.
She later went into modeling, gaining a measure of success with a series of cheesecake shots in men's magazines. One gig turned into a new career as a trick golfer. On tour with golfer Jack Redmond, she would perform stunts such as hitting a ball out of a man's mouth.
Carmen claimed that she later hustled golfers with Las Vegas mobster Johnny Roselli.
She came to Hollywood while still in her 20s, where she appeared in low-budget movies with such titles as "Guns Don't Argue" and "The Monster of Piedras Blancas."
Carmen also claimed to have had affairs with Sinatra and other celebrities.
In addition to her son, Carmen is survived by daughters Melinda Belli and Kellee Jade Campo, and three grandchildren.