Status: Never completed
Character: Jenny Royster
Character Summary: A former prostitute, turned friendly Georgian landlord to the small town's "down and outers."
A description of the character and story from a March 5, 1961 newspaper book review:
"Jenny Royster is a middle aged boardinghouse keeper in a small Georgia town, who is not too particular about the sort of guests she takes in, having been none too particular about her own morals in the earlier years of her life. The town is run by Dade Womack, a shrewd business man with strict segregationist ideas, and the crisis comes when Jenny gives shelter to a girl who is part Indian, or says she is. Womack decides, without bothering to determine the facts, that the girl is a mulatto, and issues edicts. Jenny balks, and gets little help from lawyer Milo Raincy, whom the author has arranged a romantic attachment to Jenny."
Description from the book:
"Retired from the oldest profession and now more or less respectable, Jenny Royster holds sway over a colorful household in the cold shadow of the Rugged Cross Church.
'I'm Jenny by name, and Jenny by nature, and won't be changed even by legislature,' says the buxom, big-hearted landlady and fills her house with the town's lame ducks. Star-boarders at the moment are Veasy Goodwillie, a midget on winter vacation from the circus, who keeps Jenny warm on cold nights, and Betty Woodruff, who has become a town scandal because of her frequent and indiscriminate visits to the less respectable motels. One of Jenny's 'best weaknesses' is doing nice, kind, personal things for Judge Milo Rainey, her slow-moving, middle-aged suitor. In return he helps when the Rugged Cross community persecute Jenny for harboring immoral lodgers. Unfortunately his hands are tied when a third lodger, a beautiful, dark-skinned girl from Palmetto County, incites the town to raise the black flag."
Joan's involvement in the production:
Based on the novel of the same title (published in 1961) by author Erskine Caldwell, the script for "Jenny By Nature" was written by screenwriter Francis Swann, with filming scheduled to begin in August 1970.
The project was being financed by producer Alex Gottlieb, with Robert Gist directing. Gist had previously directed Joan in "Royal Bay" (A.K.A. "Della") in October 1963, and Joan's episode on the television show "The Virginian," which aired in January 1970.
In early summer 1970, Joan signed on for the film to portray "Jenny Royster," a former prostitute, turned warm-hearted landlord to those down on their luck.
Shortly after, actor Lex Barker (best known for his role as "Tarzan") signed on as Joan's leading man.
In June 1970, producer Alex Gottlieb traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi to scout filming locations for the film.
Unfortunately, by August 1970, the production began to fall apart and was ultimately shelved.