Jeannette Clift George’s life is best described in her own words. From her various platforms of life as Founder/Artistic Director of the A. D. Players, as award-winning stage and film actress, playwright, author, Bible teacher, radio personality, national speaker, close friend and beloved wife of Lorraine M. George, she challenged us “to be not merely receivers of God’s gifts but active conduits of their treasure.” Jeannette Clift George was most definitely an active conduit of God’s treasure.
In the 50th year as Artistic Director of the Houston-based A.D. Players, the Christian Theater Company, Jeannette Clift George took center stage, celebrating the remembrance of her prayer that “God would do something about the need for Christian theater,” adding with her signature giggle, “I never meant me, but on the wind of the Holy Spirit many of us find ourselves serving surprising assignments. Trust God’s assignments. He never assigns us to do what He has not already equipped us to do.” God richly equipped Jeannette Clift George for what He called her to do.
Recognized for her leadership, Jeannette received the Matrix Award for outstanding contribution to the community through her playwriting, the Delta Gamma Fraternity Shield Award for distinguished achievement, an honorary membership in Alpha Delta Kappa International Teacher’s Sorority, and the Rotary International’s Jean Harris Award. She received the 1998 Texas Baptist Communications Award, as well as the CITA (Christians in Theater Arts) organization’s Outstanding Achievement Award, and was honored by the Theresians of the United States. She held an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Dallas Baptist University and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Houston Baptist University.
As a child, Jeannette was enthralled with the stage from the moment the curtain opened, vowing to join the circus as a trapeze artist or sing as Madame Butterfly, carrying a Japanese parasol. “Never underestimate the dream of a child. Never sell your own dreams short. Turn them over to the Leading Actor, Who is the Christ. You are a beloved child whose dreams and hopes He holds as mysterious treasures considered carefully in His perfect plan.”
Following her dream, Jeannette Clift George won a scholarship to Stephens College, studying under the direction of William Inge, the major playwright, and Maude Adams, the most successful, highest-paid performer of her time starring as the original Peter Pan. Jeannette completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas. Her extensive background in professional theater included touring with the New York Shakespeare Company and many seasons with Houston’s Alley Theatre. She performed at the Playhouse in the Park in Philadelphia and the Arena Stage in Washington, as well as Houston’s Stages Repertory Theatre. Jeannette was voted Houston’s Best Actress, winning the drama critics’ Sidney Holmes Acting Award for her work as Sabina in SKIN OF OUR TEETH.
“I want to learn my craft, compete with the best of them, and serve my Lord with the excellence He gives me.” That desire to serve the Lord led Jeannette to build Grace Theater, home of the A.D. Players, where as an actress she starred in DRIVING MISS DAISY, LETTICE AND LOVAGE, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, and THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL.
A pivotal moment in Jeannette’s professional acting career came with a call from World Wide Pictures, the film ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, with the news she was chosen to play the part of “one of the greatest of God’s heroes,” Corrie ten Boom in THE HIDING PLACE, starring alongside Eileen Heckart, Julie Harris and Arthur O’Connell. THE HIDING PLACE, based on the autobiographical book of the same name, recounted Corrie ten Boom and her family’s sheltering of the Jews in Holland during the Holocaust and the family’s imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp. Jeannette said of that experience, “…this filming was more than a story, it was a life lived again with the hurts and heroes that had survived it, watching it unfolding…accounting its scars like fresh wounds.” For her work in THE HIDING PLACE, Jeannette Clift George was nominated for a Golden Globe Award by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a Golden Apple Award by the Hollywood Women’s Press Club, and as Most Promising Newcomer by the British Academy of Arts and Sciences.
During the time of filming THE HIDING PLACE, Billy and Ruth Graham and their family became Jeannette’s lifelong friends. Their daughter, Ruth Graham, said, “Jeannette Clift George was a treasure on and off the stage. She was a great friend to both of my parents, Billy and Ruth Bell Graham. But, especially for Mother.
My mother trusted their friendship perhaps as none other. Their friendship was a safe place for both – where confidences could be shared, silliness enjoyed and the scriptures explored. They shared their hearts. They were old-fashioned “girlfriends”. A lovely gift to both of them who so often had to be in the limelight.
Jeannette occupied a unique place in my mother’s heart – all our hearts.”
The vision of THE HIDING PLACE gave Jeannette eyes to see the future, “I look forward to a time when Christian film, Christian theater, Christian television, will have an accepted and honored place in the media. That time has been brought closer by the film THE HIDING PLACE and offerings of like craftsmanship.” This film, shown around the world, translated into foreign languages, continues to touch lives with the touch of God. “She [Corrie ten Boom] learned the reality of God’s love in the reality of Ravensbruck and presented God’s Good News reality to a world that desperately needed the Good News of Truth.” When Jeannette answered God’s call with “Here am I. Send me” she became an active conduit of God’s Good News.
As an author and Bible teacher, Jeannette Clift George reminds us that it may not be wise to tell God what we will not do. “I told the Lord I would give Him my life but would not give my public testimony or get involved in Bible classes or relate in any way in what was then called ‘religious drama.’” Of course, Jeannette traveled around the world giving her testimony, taught four Bible classes a week, taped the radio program, JEANNETTE CLIFT GEORGE FROM CENTER STAGE and led a Christian theater company. She authored many books including DAISY PETALS, TRAVEL TIPS FROM A RELUCTANT TRAVELER, SOME RUN WITH FEET OF CLAY, EVERYTHING HAS TO BE SOMEWHERE, THINK ME ON TO IT and BEHIND THE HIDING PLACE. Her book, TROUBLING DEAF HEAVEN, written after the death of her husband Lorraine, shares her hope in the time of great sorrow. “In the silence of God, hold to three words…God is able. In the lightning, in the fire, in the earthquake, in the rain—and most especially in the silence—God is able.” Jeannette describes her husband, Lorraine Malcolm George, as “a truly wonderful man. A builder of massive things like freeways and overpasses and new patternings for old riverbeds, he took the time and attention to build a football field in an impoverished neighborhood and transformed a meeting hall into a theater [A.D. Players’ Grace Theater].” The beautiful new A.D. Players home, honoring them both, bears their names, The Jeannette and L.M. George Theater.
Friends were important to Jeannette Clift George.
And if you met her, you too were her friend. A friend stops on her way to catch a plane to listen and pray for you, saying, “God has slipped into our schedules a paragraph of fellowship!” A friend looks you in the eye and says, “You, being who you are, are uniquely equipped to glorify God and help others by doing or saying what you, and only you, in all the world can say or do. That is true!”
We will miss our dear friend.
But we will remember what she said, “No matter how well we accept its eternal principles, the Christian’s death, be he a major martyr or one whose dearness is only privately known, the Christian’s death leaves an empty space and grief flows its sorrowing. What to do with grief?…Curl up in the lap of God and let Him love you.”
Jeannette told of the time when she was a child, lying feverish in her bed in the middle of the night when she heard her daddy calling her name. “He had driven all night from a distant field and until he saw me in the window, didn’t know whether he still had a daughter…I will never forget that moment when my daddy came from far away to call me by name. I think of that when I read in the Scripture that Jesus calls His sheep by name. I am not to Him a number. I’m a name, and a pet name at that.”
Jesus has called Jeannette by name. And heeding His call, she has curled up in the lap of God and giggled as He said, “I love you Jeannette.”
“Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:23
Jeannette Clift George is preceded in death by her husband, Lorraine Malcolm George, and her parents, Hubert E. Clift and Jeannette C. Clift.
Gifts in memory of Jeannette and Lorraine George may be sent to A. D. Players, 5420 Westheimer, Houston, Texas 77056.