Karen Xander Gaylord was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the oldest of four daughters Edith, Anna and Martha of Werner C. Goerner and Marie Goerner. Her father was German, her mother was from Illinois. The family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The family moved around quite a bit during Jane’s childhood, going back to Milwaukee, settling permanently in Devils Lake, North Dakota, where Werner operated a chain of lumber yards. Jane attended schools in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Devils Lake.
The pretty girl became a fixture on the pageant scene in her late teens, and won the title of Miss Minnesota when she was about 18 years old. Harry Conover, the connoisseur of pretty girls, saw her in a Butte, Montana bank and signed her to become a model in New York City. Jane was quick to rise the ranks of models, appearing on covers of national magazines.
She was appointed as "Miss Minnesota of 1942" by the Chamber of Commerce of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the council even covered the cost of airfare to have her come visit her roots to accept the award.
As a Goldwyn girl, Karen appeared in small, uncredited roles in a string of high budget, distinguished movies. Most of the movies are well remembered today and most them featured at least one A class star. Her first movie appearance was in Cover Girl, a lovely Rita Hayworth musical, one of her best. Gene Kelly and Rita were a great dancing couple, and the breezy movie moves skillfully towards a stunning ending. Wonder Man is a hilarious Danny Kaye movie. The name itself is misleading, as Kaye does not play a superhero in any form, but a man haunted by the ghost of his dead twin brother who seeks justice for his murder. As always, Virginia Mayo is a great foil for Danny, and the finale, set during an opera performance, is one of the best scenes in comedic history.
In late May 1948, she met Don McGuire on a blind date. Frank Sinatra was the match maker. The whirlwind courtship lasted for only three months before their tied the knot on August 15, 1948. There were some bits and pieces about Karen in the paper after that, but she sank into obscurity after 1954. All I know is that she and McGuire did not have any children and divorced at some point. McGuire died in 1999.
At the time of her death she was known under the name Jane Goerner; she had her name legally changed following the end of her film career in an effort to give the next chapter of her life more of a 'fresh start'.
GAYLORD, Karen X. (Karen Xandra Gaylord)
Born: 1/4/1921, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Died: 8/1/2014, Olala, Florida, U.S.A.
Karen X. Gaylord’s western – actress:
In Old Oklahoma – 1943 (dance hall girl)