Jean Phillips was a young ingénue at Paramount who aspired very briefly to stardom at the outset of the 1940s. Born in Sioux Falls, SD, Jean Phillips grew up in California; one day, near the end of her time in high school, on a whim, she entered a beauty contest in Culver City. As a prize, Phillips won a series of dancing lessons, and was in the class when the casting office at MGM called one day in 1934, asking for a particular girl who happened to be out sick. Instead, Phillips went on the audition and won a small role in the 1934 Jimmy Durante musical comedy Student Tour. After a few more uncredited performances, the studio pegged her as the stand-in for Jean Harlow, who was then MGM's resident bombshell. Phillips held the job until Harlow's sudden death in 1937, and after that she took any kind of movie-related work there was, including a job making personal appearances, posing with a boat as part of the publicity campaign for a Paramount film called Rulers of the Sea. The movie bombed but Paramount was impressed enough with the reaction to Phillips to sign her. From 1940 until 1942, she appeared in 15 movies, playing a manicurist in Preston Sturges' The Great McGinty, an uncredited part in Mitchell Leisen's melodrama Hold Back the Dawn, and a small role in Stuart Heisler's Among the Living. Despite being nearly 30, Phillips could look much younger, and played a cowgirl barely out of her teens in the Hopalong Cassidy movie Outlaws of the Desert. She briefly graduated to stardom in Anthony Mann's superb debut thriller, Dr. Broadway, but gave up acting that same year, following her appearance in William Clemens' Night in New Orleans (1942).