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JEAN ARTHUR, STAR OF `MR. SMITH,' OTHER HITS OF '30S AND '40S, DIES

Actress Jean Arthur, who portrayed a savvy political aide in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and starred in other Hollywood hits of the 1930s and 1940s, has died at age 90.

The actress died of heart failure at Carmel Convalescent Hospital on Wednesday, according to Ronald Siebe of the Paul Mortuary of Pacific Grove. She had lived in the Carmel area about 35 years.Arthur began her film career with small parts in silent films and went on to starring roles as an urbane, witty woman.

"Jean had a very rare and special talent," former co-star Jimmy Stewart said Wednesday. "My experience in working with her is something I will never forget."

The two starred in Frank Capra's 1939 classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Arthur played the political aide who befriends and eventually falls in love with the naive, newly appointed senator played by Stewart. Stewart and Arthur also co-starred in "You Can't Take it With You," in 1938.

Arthur, a husky-voiced blond, also played opposite such stars as Gary Cooper (in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" and "The Plainsman"), Cary Grant ("The Talk of the Town"), John Wayne ("A Lady Takes a Chance"), Charles Boyer and Ronald Colman.

She worked under several of Hollywood's greatest directors, including Capra, Howard Hawks, John Ford and George Stevens, and was once nominated for an Oscar, for her starring role in Stevens' 1943 film, "The More the Merrier." However, the best-actress award that year went to Jennifer Jones for her role in "The Song of Bernadette."

Arthur's final movie role, after a five-year absence from Hollywood, was in Stevens' 1953 Western classic "Shane," which co-starred Alan Ladd.

Arthur was born Gladys Georgianne Greene in Plattsburgh, N.Y. She began her film career under a one-year contract with Fox and worked nearly a dozen years before stardom struck.

She worked on Broadway early in her career, and in the 1950s she made stage appearances in productions of "Peter Pan" and "Saint Joan."

After a hiatus from Hollywood of more than a decade, she made a guest appearance in television's "Gunsmoke" in 1965 and returned in 1966 to star in the short-lived series "The Jean Arthur Show."