In the landscape of entertainment, few stories are as compelling as the journey of Jean Bell. From the glossy pages of Playboy to the gritty scenes of blaxploitation cinema, Bell’s career has been as varied as it has been groundbreaking. But what has become of this pioneering figure in recent years?
Born Annie Lee Morgan on November 23, 1944, in St. Louis, Missouri, Jean Bell grew up in Houston, Texas. She attended Texas Southern University, majoring in business administration, and made history as the first African American woman to participate in the Miss Texas Pageant. Bell’s aspirations were split between professional bowling and acting, a duality that speaks to her multifaceted talents.
Modeling And Acting Career
Jean Bell’s modeling career took a significant leap when she appeared as the Playboy Playmate of the Month in October 1969, becoming one of the first African American women to be featured in this role. She later became the first black person to grace the magazine’s cover in January 1970, a few months before Darine Stern’s solo cover, which is often mistakenly cited as the first.
After her Playboy success, Bell transitioned to acting, securing roles in films like “Mean Streets” and “The Klansman.” However, it was the 1975 film “TNT Jackson” and the 1976 film "The Muthers," that cemented her status as an icon in the blaxploitation genre.
Life Beyond the Screen
Bell’s life took many turns after her stint in Hollywood. She dated Richard Burton, aiding him in his battle against alcoholism, which indirectly led to his reunion with Elizabeth Taylor. Bell later worked in Houston at Splendors Gentlemen’s Club under the name “Bunny.”
In 1986, she married Gary Judis, then-Chairman of the Board of the California Independent Mortgage Brokers Association, after an eight-year courtship. They shared 44 years together until his passing in 2022.
What is Jeanie Bell Doing Now?
At 78 years old, Jean Bell, who now goes by the name of Annie Jeanie Judis, is a beacon of vitality and inspiration. A few years ago, inspired by a dream, Jeanie took up rope skipping and has since broken her own Guinness World Record’s five times (oldest competitive rope skipper by jumping continuously for one minute), most recently at the American Jump Rope National Championship.
Despite personal challenges, including the loss of her husband of 44 years and health issues like a detached retina and a car accident, rope skipping has been a therapeutic and strengthening activity for her. She continues to train five days a week and leads a neighborhood walking group, advocating for an active lifestyle.
Jeanie is also working on a children’s book about rope skipping that will include a new rope, and she remains an inspiring figure, promoting the importance of staying active and enjoying life.
Futhermore, Jeanie actively engages with her followers on social media to share her fitness journey. With the same grace and strength that characterized her acting career, she now captures the attention of a new audience, demonstrating the transformative power of jump rope as a tool for health and wellness. Her posts not only showcase her remarkable physical agility but also encourage others to embrace a lifestyle of movement and joy.
Jeanie’s enduring energy and her commitment to fitness at 78 are as compelling as her film roles, proving that age is just a number and that passion for life doesn’t wane with time.