The happy couple(s)
As with virtually everything else about the life of Jean Shepherd, even the number and the details about his marriages are confused. Until now! Of course we know that Shep himself was mostly guilty of hiding and confusing the facts of his life.
The most mysterious and unknown aspect was about his first marriage–did it really exist–before he married Joan Warner, mother of his two children, Randall and Adrian? That mystery has been solved by Shep fan Steve Glazer, who recently emailed me and Jim Clavin with what seems to be definitive evidence. Shep’s first wife was Barbara Mattoon. of Hammond, IN.
Puzzle and enigma.
Let’s do the accounting backwards.
[From most recent and familiar to earliest and most mysterious.]
Leigh Brown (Nancy Prescott), married March 2, 1977 until her death July 16, 1998, she was his constant companion, his assistant, editor, producer, co-creator, steadfast support for some years before and then after their wedding in March, 1977 (just as he was about to end his WOR Radio career).
[The person charged with clearing out their Sanibel home
claimed he had the marriage license for Jean and Leigh.
He has disappeared with various important items
in the life and art of Shep.]
Lois Nettleton, married December 3, 1960 until the divorce papers sometime in 1967, “The Listener” to his “overnight” broadcasts in early 1956. She was an actress, most famous for her staring role in The Twilight Zone episode about the sun nearing the earth. She recorded many of Shep’s programs and they would discuss them when he returned after work.
[The New York Times, in its obit (by stating as fact what was obviously a
misunderstanding by whoever gave them the info),
erroneously states that Randall Shepherd “…was not aware of his father’s
second marriage to the actress Lois Nettleton….”
Randall was not aware of Lois having married Jean twice, because it is not true.]
Regarding more details about Leigh and Lois,
see my previous posts. (see my blog’s left column
and click on their names.)
Joan Warner, married September 9, 1950-1957. Shep, Joan, and son Randall moved to New Jersey when he began radio broadcasting for WOR in 1955. Without telling Lois Nettleton about his married state, Shep began seeing her, until Lois said she found out and stopped the relationship–until he produced his divorce papers.
Barbara Mattoon, married 29 March, 1947. When Shep got out of the army in late 1944, according to Steve Glazer, “Shep’s first professional broadcasting job as an adult was apparently also at WJOB, shortly after his discharge from the Army. Working at WJOB at the same time as Shep was a young and pretty Hammond resident named Barbara Mattoon, who helped maintain the radio station’s library.” During the war she had reportedly written to dozens of military personnel, in a way that could be described as “flirting.” At some point Shep moved to Cincinnati. (Jean and Barbara were married for about three years or less–until about 1950.) Then Jean married Joan Warner, who had graduated from the U. of Cincinnati in 1950.
Regarding Barbara, for many years, only Lois Nettleton and Randall Shepherd
seemed aware of this early marriage. Steve Glazer,
whom we thank for this information about Barbara and Jean,
believes that after their divorce, for whatever reason,
they both did what they could to make their marriage disappear.
They almost totally succeeded.