Back to prior page



Special thanks to Jan Tache, Jill Jackson Miller's daughter, for the biographical information on her Mother. And an additional thank you for the great photos which came from Jan and her sister Harley White who is a writer and lives in Spain.
There's more about the music of Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller at jan-leemusic.com: http://jan-leemusic.com. In September, 2009, jan-lee music released a new book and CD titled "Let There Be peace on Earth" which features the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth And Let It Begin With Me" and nine other songs written by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller: http://lettherebepeacecd.com



(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - Jill as a young child.



(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - studio portrait of Jill, possibly during her Term Players contract(s) at Republic Pictures in 1938 - 1939.
 

(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - a great portrait still of Jill.


Jill Jackson Miller was born Evelyn Merchant on August 25, 1913 in Lawrence, Missouri. Her mother died when she was three, and her subsequent childhood was difficult and traumatic. By the age of twelve she had become a ward of the court and the foster child, along with her older sister, of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Cowan.

Jill was the youngest of four children. She had twin brothers, one of whom, Cullie Merchant, became a teacher and principal in the Phoenix area. The other brother died as a child from an accident with fireworks. Jill's older sister, Eva Mae Merchant, lived most of her life in San Bernardino, California.

Jill attended high school at Northeast High in Kansas City, Missouri. After two years of junior college she moved to Hollywood to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress. She lived at the Studio Club, a well known home for young aspiring actresses that provided a haven for young women in a strange city.

Using the screen names of Jill Martin, Harley Wood and Harlene Wood, Jill starred in several westerns and a serial in the 1930s. In 1940 she married Felix Jackson, a German writer and director who had immigrated to California, and she ended her career in films at his request. They had two daughters and divorced in 1944.

My sister Harley and I have vivid memories of being glued to our black and white TV, with our neighborhood friends sometimes seated behind, shouting excitedly, "Here comes mommy!" as we watched her galloping on horseback to save the day in one of her heroine roles. Jill's only regret from those years was the film "Marihuana", a movie she felt had been a mistake. In those days, the film was considered "sensational". Today it seems quite preachy and tame.

After the divorce, Jill attempted suicide, and during her slow recovery she had experiences that led her to a strong belief in God and inspired her to write.

She began her writing career with magazine articles and children's stories. In 1946 Jill met the man who would become her second husband and the real love of her life, Sy (Seymour) Miller, a musician, composer and writer for Warner Brothers Music. They married in 1949, and Sy encouraged her to write songs with him. Together they formed Jan-Lee Music and wrote many songs together - Sy writing the music and Jill writing the lyrics. The song that they are most known for is "Let There Be Peace on Earth (and Let it Begin with Me)".

After writing "Let There Be Peace on Earth", the desire for world peace became a quest that filled much of Jill's life. Over the years, as the song spread around the globe, she was asked to give talks about the song and the power of each individual to help create peace. Jill was an inspiring speaker who believed that all of her varied experiences had contributed to her understanding. She was always ready to encourage people to keep searching for their meaning, their inspiration, their true beliefs, and to forgive themselves and others for mistakes made along the way. And Jill readily illustrated her thoughts with tales of her own misadventures, a quality which endeared her to many.

Sy and Jill's song about peace was performed and recorded by countless singers, and used by many groups and churches, including the United Nations. It won the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation's "George Washington Medal" and an award from The National Council of Christians and Jews.

Sy Miller passed away on August 17, 1971. Jill continued her work for peace until her death in Hawaii, where she passed away peacefully in her own home in April, 1995.

Jan Tache
October, 2009



(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - Jill doing heroine duty with Herman Brix (later known as Bruce Bennett) in the Republic serial HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS (1938). Brix was the shot-put Silver medalist in the 1928 Olympics.
 

(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - Buster Keaton and Jill circa 1939, in one of Jill's last film roles.



(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above from left to right are Jill and daughters Harley and Janet ... in their convertible ... on a warm and sunny day in California circa 1946 - 1947.



(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - Jill and her first husband Felix Jackson at a dinner party circa early 1940s.
 

(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - a crop/blowup of Jill and hubby Felix Jackson from the dinner party photo on the left.


The Internet Movie Database and Dartmouth College websites have info on movie screenwriter and producer Felix Jackson (1902 - 1992) who later became a TV producer and Vice President at NBC Television:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~germ43/resources/biographies/jackson-f.html
http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0413519/



(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - daughters Harley and Jan with Jill and Jill's first husband Felix Jackson.
 

(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - then Governor Jimmy Carter honoring Jill for the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth". Unidentified man in the center of the photo.



(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Above - Jill and her husband/partner Sy (Seymour) Miller at the piano.
 

(Image courtesy of Jill's daughters)

Four generations - from left to right are: Granddaughter Jeannie, Jill, daughter Jan and great granddaughter Emily in Hawaii, 1993. The original photo was done by Sarah Anderson Photography, Honoka'a, Hawaii.


You may wish to visit the website of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). ASCAP's ACE Database allows for queries. On the search webpage, check "writers" and in the search box, type in either "Seymour Miller" or "Jill Jackson Miller" and run the search. There you'll find dozens of songs attributed to them. The search page is at: https://www.ascap.com/ace-title-search/index.aspx



Back to prior page