Jan Sterling (April 3, 1921 - March 6, 2004) was an American actress. She was born Jane Sterling Adriance on April 3, 1921, in New York City, into a prosperous family. Sterling was educated in private schools before heading to Europe with her family. She was schooled by private tutors in London and Paris, and was enrolled in Fay Compton's dramatic school in London.
As a teenager she returned to Manhattan, and, billed as Jane Sterling, made her first Broadway appearance in Bachelor Born and went on to appear in such major stage offerings as Panama Hattie, Over 21 and Present Laughter. In 1947, she made her movies debut in Tycoon , now billed as Jane Darian. Seldom cast in passive roles, Sterling was at her best in parts calling for hard-bitten, sometimes hard-boiled determination. Actress Ruth Gordon insisted she change her stage name and the two hit upon "Jan Sterling".
In 1948 she broke into films supporting the Academy Award winner Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda, in a key, emotional role. Shuttling between films and television, she showed up in nearly all the major live anthologies of the 1950s, playing in "bad girl" film roles in Caged (1950), The Big Carnival (1951), Flesh and Fury (1952), The Human Jungle (1954), and Female on the Beach (1955), while making a more sympathetic impression in Sky Full of Moon (1952).
In 1954 Sterling was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in The High and the Mighty. Also the same year, she travelled to England to play the role of Julia in the first film version of George Orwell's 1984, despite being several months pregnant at the time. During the following years, she appeared regularly in movies like Slaughter on Tenth Avenue , Kathy O , and The Female Animal . She retired from films in favor of the stage in 1969 and returned before the cameras in 1976 to portray Mrs. Herbert Hoover in the TV miniseries Backstairs at the White House .
Married and divorced to actor John Merivale in the 40s, Sterling's career slipped down after the death of her second husband, actor Paul Douglas, in 1959. In the 70s she entered into a longlasting strong personal relationship with actor Sam Wanamaker. They never married. Inactive for nearly two decades, she made an appearance at the Cinecon Film Festival in Los Angeles in the fall of 2001.
After a long bout with diabetes, a broken hip, and a number of strokes, Sterling died in Los Angeles, California, a few days before her 84th birthday. She is interred in the Garden of Actors Churchyard Cemetery in London, England.