June Allyson

(Ella Geisman)

(1917–2006), b. Bronx, New York

Trained as a dancer, she was a chorus girl while still at school, and went on to play in Broadway musicals. Her film debut was in Best Foot Forward (43, Edward Buzzell), which repeated a stage role. She was put under contract by MGM—as the sort of girl men overseas might like to come home to—for Girl Crazy (43, Norman Taurog); Thousands Cheer (43, George Sidney); Two Girls and a Sailor (44, Richard Thorpe); and Music for Millions (44, Henry Koster). Her petite, sore-throated charm was perfected in Till the Clouds Roll By (46, Richard Whorf); Good News (47, Charles Walters); Words and Music (48, Taurog); as Jo in Little Women (49, Mervyn Le Roy); with her husband, Dick Powell, in The Reformer and the Redhead (50, Melvin Frank and Norman Panama); and Too Young to Know (51, Robert Z. Leonard). Her image of cheerful wholesomeness found its apotheosis in the wife and, supremely, the widow in The Glenn Miller Story (53, Anthony Mann). With that experience of tears, she took on more dramatic roles, with little success: Battle Circus (53, Richard Brooks), incredibly as the object of Bogart’s affections; Executive Suite (54, Robert Wise); was surprisingly good (and nasty) in The Shrike (55, José Ferrer) and Strategic Air Command (55, Mann), in which she was forever looking for James Stewart in the sky. Thereafter she dwindled into romances and tame comedies: You Can’t Run Away From It (56), produced and directed by Dick Powell and allegedly a remake of It Happened One Night; The Opposite Sex (56, David Miller), legally a remake of The Women; My Man Godfrey (57, Koster), so removed in tone and effect that it made the term “remake” null; Interlude (57, Douglas Sirk); and A Stranger in My Arms (58, Helmut Kautner). She moved briefly into TV, but retired when Powell died in 1963. More recently, she was the murderess in They Only Kill Their Masters (72, James Goldstone).