Friday, February 10, 2006

Will This Woman Bring Down the Sport of Hockey?

Janet Jones (Gretsky) Under a Hot Spotlight
(The Arizona Republic) As a cover girl, actress and sports wife, Janet Jones has generated her share of excitement.

Her rise from starlet to wife of hockey great Wayne Gretzky has taken her from ballet lessons in small-town Missouri to thousand-dollar shopping sprees in Scottsdale's most chichi shops.

This week, she found herself in a different kind of spotlight when multiple media sources reported that she placed bets with an illegal sports gambling ring.

She has not been charged with any crimes, but a representative said in a statement that she could be asked to testify before a grand jury.

Jones was born in Bridgeton, Mo. She grew up with five older siblings and enjoyed playing sports. Later, she studied ballet before switching to jazz dancing.

Her background landed her work hoofing it up in 1982's Annie and Staying Alive, a 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever.

She got her most noticeable role in 1984's The Flamingo Kid, a nostalgic comedy-drama that involves cheating at gambling.

Matt Dillon starred in the film, directed by Garry Marshall. She played Dillon's love interest and earned positive attention from critics, who noted her leggy 5-foot, 9-inch figure and head-turning blond looks.

She followed the movie with two high-profile roles. In the 1985 movie version of the stage musical A Chorus Line, she played one of the Broadway hopefuls. The film died at the box office, and the critics weren't kind.

The 1986 film American Anthem fared even worse. The drama was built around Olympian Mitch Gaylord and was filmed in Phoenix and Flagstaff, but the movie tanked at the box office and generated hideous reviews.

During this period, Jones was engaged to hard-partying tennis star Vitas Gerulaitis.

She was still involved with Gerulaitis when she met Gretzky. He was appearing on the Deney Terrio TV show Dance Fever as a celebrity judge while she was a dancer. They didn't begin dating until 1987, when they ran into each other at a Los Angeles Lakers game. (read more)

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