ANNE FRANCIS
 
Beautiful, curvaceous, mole-lipped Anne Francis got into show business quite early in life. At age 6, she became a John Robert Powers model and swiftly moved into radio soaps in New York. By 11, she was on Broadway with Gertrude Lawrence in Lady In The Dark. MGM put her under contract after WWII where she appeared in a couple of obscure starlet bits, both musical and dramatic, but nothing came of it. Trekking back to New York, she appeared to good notice during TV's "Golden Age" and was discovered by Darryl F. Zanuck as a juvenile delinquent in the lowbudget film So Young So Bad (1950), which led to a 20th-Century Fox contract.

She soon starred in a number of promising blonde ingenue roles, including Elopement (1951), Lydia Bailey (1952), and Dreamboat (1952), along with co-starring opposite some of Hollywood's finest leading man in some noteworthy 1950's classics: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955) opposite Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan, Blackboard Jungle (1955) starring Glenn Ford and a rising Sidney Poitier, and the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956) with a dead-serious Leslie Nielsen. But, for the most part, her roles emphasized her fetching looks than her acting ability and she soon refocused, finding a comfortable niche on 1960's television. She found a most appreciative audience as an Emma Peel-like detective in the short-lived cult series Honey West (1965), where she combined glamour and a sexy veneer with judo throws and karate chops.

She returned to films only on occasion after that, the most controversial being Funny Girl (1968), in which her co-starring role as Barbra Streisand's chorine pal was reduced to a glorified cameo. She also appeared gratuitously opposite top film comics in some of their worst vehicles: Hook, Line & Sinker (1969) starring Jerry Lewis, and The Love God? (1969) with Don Knotts, which did absolutely nothing to further her career. She remained, however, a bright, colorful, decorative, wise-cracking presence in a slew of TV-movies well into the 1990's. For such a promising start and with such amazing stamina and longevity, the girl with the sexy mole really deserved better.

Her health declined sharply in her final years. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, the actress sadly died on January 2, 2011 from complications of pancreatic cancer in a Santa Barbara, California retirement home.


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