February 17, 2004 by

Jan Miner


Categories: Actors

jminer.jpgJanice Miner was known all over the world for her portrayal of Madge, the wisecracking manicurist in Palmolive commercials. For 27 years, the ads featured Miner praising the gentleness of the dish detergent: “It softens hands while you do the dishes.”
Miner studied at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston and trained for the stage with acting coach Lee Strasberg. She made her stage debut in 1945 in the Boston performance of “Street Scene.” Three years later, she moved to New York City, and began a four-decade career acting on- and off-Broadway. She frequently shared the stage with her husband, actor/screenwriter Richard Merrell, who died in 1988.
During the late 1940s, Miner appeared on several radio programs, including the popular, syndicated series, “Boston Blackie.” In film, she acted with Dustin Hoffman in “Lenny,” and in “Mermaids” with Cher. She also made numerous guest appearances on television, including a recent performance on the NBC drama, “Law and Order.”
Miner died on Feb. 15. Cause of death was not released. She was 86.
Watch Miner in a Classic Palmolive Commercial

16 Responses to Jan Miner

  1. Valerie

    Another link to special TV programming/commercials from simpler times. I remember Madge and we still use Palmolive dish detergent ~ I wonder what she thought of all the variations in fragrance and color from that original emerald green liquid that filled her finger bowl. RIP

  2. Jackie

    Okay, I guess this will be my site to keep up with “celebrity” deaths!!! Yes, I am old enough to remember Madge exclaiming “You’re Soaking In It!!!!” on commercials for Palmolive. Yes, I can also remember my mom buying Palmolive simply because she thought that we would believe that we were getting “manicures” while doing the dishes! Thanks for leaving a good imprint on my life!

  3. Angel

    I came across this site because I was conducting research for one of my doctorial projects. The subject was target advertising. I remember the commercials Madge did when I was a young girl. “It softens hands while you do the dishes.” My mother would always tell me go soften your hands. (it was my time to do the dishes.) These were good memories.
    From my eyes, the target advertising group was women who took care of their hands and Madge helped them because she was smarter than her customers. I am sad to of her death. I shall pray for her family.

  4. Hugh Conklin

    A tribute too late but my 91 year old memory pictures a dinner at Jan’s NYC apartment with her husband in the mid 50’s. My late wife and I were close friends of Jan’s brother, Don, when we lived in Hingham, MA in late 40’s. A lovely lady of class No. 1 and a perfect purveyor of humor and good will.

  5. terry

    Ive always enjoyed watching this woman (along with many others like bette davis, tululla bankhead,amanda blake to name a few)because of her/their low gutter mannish voice. It breaks my heart (and a lot of other men like myself out here) to see her go. She’s one of my favourites. Iv’e been imitating her for years.

  6. reagan riley

    jan was an important part of my childhood. i loved her portrayal of julie in the late 40ties on the radio soap called hilltop house. i often imagined i was one of those orphans and that she adopted me. later on i too enjoyed her as madge. it appears from the comments of those who knew her that she was in real life much like the neat lady i imagined her to be.

  7. CAROL


  8. Franklin

    I just watched Mrs. Miner on an episode of “ONE STEP BEYOND” an anthology series trying to smash the success of “Twilight Zone”…and with her sterling performance as the maid to a Countess who inherits a choking necklace(and gets snuffed by the thing!)her skill-craft was real artistry..I remember her as madge…but looking at her alone you could tell Jan…was an indescribably loving, caring,nurturing and gracious woman! How FORTUNATE to have been her husband, children and friends…Total Class!

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