This standout Wagon Train guest star was an early proponent of plastic surgery

Jan Sterling openly discussed her nose job in public. She also stole scenes as ''Annie Griffith'' on the hit Western.

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Flint McCullough (Robert Horton) is scouting in Shoshone country when he is shot. A mysterious woman in the wild drags him to shelter and nurses him back to health. But she has motivation — she wants to barter Flint with the Native Americans for safe passage through the territory. Oh, and there is the little matter of Flint having just killed her husband.

Jan Sterling dazzles in the title role of Annie Griffith (that's Annie, not Andy) in "The Annie Griffith Story," a steller season-two episode of Wagon Train. True West Magazine said of this installment, "Possibly the best episode in the season is the one that stars the criminally underappreciated Jan Sterling." We won't argue. Sterling is, well, sterling.

The actress was a starlet on the silver screen. Perhaps her most lasting movie role had hit theaters three years before her Wagon Train turn, in the 1956 adaption of 1984, the dystopian George Orwell tale. She played Julia of the Outer Party, the female lead.

But Sterling had many other scene-stealing roles in the Fifties. Her breakout came in the 1950 film noir Appointment with Danger, a notable crime drama that cast Jack Webb and Harry Morgan — future Dragnet cops and costars — as bad guys! A year later, she volleyed sharp dialogue with Kirk Douglas in Billy Wilder's wonderful Ace in the HoleThe High and the Mighty (1954) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination.

So, in short, Sterling was a major movie star of the Fifties.

Which is what made it so rare and refreshing to hear her talk openly about plastic surgery. It's no secret Hollywood actors have work done — but they rarely admit it.

On the other hand, in 1959, a few months after her Wagon Train appearance, Sterling discussed plastic surgery with newspaper writer Lydia Lane for her "Hollywood Beauty" column.

"I remember after her nose bob [sic] how courageously she appeared on TV and encouraged other women to take advantage of plastic surgery," Lane wrote. You can see the before and after in the images above.

"If you want to be beautiful you can," Sterling said. "I happen to have been blessed with good teeth, but those who aren't can take advantage of the wonderful things dentists can do today."

We don't necessarily agree with her takes or advocate all she advocated, but we do find her frankness fascinating. 

She went on to talk about her bleeding gums and how she dealt with her gingival troubles. She admitted to having a "complex" about her younger sister being "prettier" and getting more attention at sock hops in high school. "I get massages four or five times a week and love it," she boasted. "I can lose five pounds in two days."

Much of what she went on to say about beauty standards and societal roles was, well, very 1950s. Yet, her willingness to speak openly to columnists was rather unique. She may have been a product of her time, but Sterling would have loved social media.

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3 months ago
Was it Marilyn Monroe who observed "You have to be pretty smart to play a dumb blonde?" Jan "Sterling" was not up to the job. Her performance in "Caged" was an embarrassment.
LH 4 months ago
Is it just me or does anybody else think she looked better before? She had a nice nose.
Dina LH 1 month ago
It was a great nose, it just didn't look pert, I suppose. To me, her post-surgery picture looks like she had an injury to her nose. But, she was clearly pleased with it and as far as we know, it helped her career so it all worked out.
Laramiewashisname1958 4 months ago
I remember that episode. I thought Jan was so beautiful. She played the part very well.
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F5Twitster 4 months ago
"'I remember after her nose bob [sic] how courageously she appeared on TV and encouraged other women to take advantage of plastic surgery,' Lane wrote."

No,Sterling didn't mean to say "nose JOB," SHE MEANT BOB, i.e. the shortening of something, in this case someone's nose via surgery.
Andybandit 4 months ago
Nice story. Even though I don't know she is. Wagon train is not one of my favorite western. Sorry about that.
LH Andybandit 4 months ago
I never saw one episode of wagon train.
MrsPhilHarris 4 months ago
Looks like one of those dreadful, super narrow, 1950s nose jobs with the triangle nostrils. There always seems to be a witness with this nose on the stand on Perry Mason.
LH MrsPhilHarris 4 months ago
I agree… I commented earlier that I actually think she looked better with her first nose! So sad… But people have to do what they feel like looks best on them I guess
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
It was always the actresses on Perry Mason who sported the dreadful nose jobs you described. The male actors seemed not whit embarrassed by their schnozzes and Brooklynese accents. I love that show!
MrsPhilHarris Pilaf 3 months ago
I do too! Love the whole look from the auto courts and lunch counters, to the swanky parties and chic clothing, to Paul Drake saying “Hello beautiful”.
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MichaelSkaggs 4 months ago
I believe some comments have been removed.
birddog 4 months ago
Thanks Metv knew and watched the episode but had no real clue who she was! Enjoyed the read:)
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