Farewell to another ‘Forbidden Planet’ star: Anne Francis

Mouse Guard - Available Now @ DriveThruComics.com
Current D&D Campaign Adventures - Mythic Odysseys of Theros
Current D&D Campaign Adventures - Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Huge Discounts on your Favorite RPGs @ DriveThruRPG.com
Springs Hosting
Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Springs Hosting

Late last year the world lost comic actor and Forbidden Planet star Leslie Nielsen; now his love interest in that seminal sci-fi film, Anne Francis, has passed away.

‘Forbidden Planet’ star Anne Francis dies at 80

BOB THOMAS, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actress Anne Francis, who was the love interest in the 1950s science-fiction classic “Forbidden Planet” and later was sexy private eye in “Honey West” on TV, has died at age 80.

Francis died Sunday at a Santa Barbara nursing home, said Bill Guntle, a funeral director McDermott-Crockett & Associates Mortuary in Santa Barbara.

Francis, who had surgery and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, died of complications of pancreatic cancer, her daughter, Jane Uemura, told the Los Angeles Times.

Francis, a stunningly beautiful blonde with a prominent beauty mark, appeared opposite such stars as Spencer Tracy, Paul Newman, Robert Taylor and Glenn Ford in some of the most popular films of the 1950s. But “Forbidden Planet” and “Honey West” made her reputation.

“Forbidden Planet” was hailed in Leonard Maltin’s “2006 Movie Guide” as “one of the most ambitious and intelligent films of its genre.”

A science-fiction retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” the 1956 film had Leslie Nielsen and other space travelers visiting a planet where expatriate scientist Walter Pidgeon, his daughter (Francis) and their helper, Robby the Robot, built a settlement.

Before filming began, the actors held a meeting and agreed “to be as serious about this film as we could be,” Francis said in a 1999 interview.

“We could have hammed it up, but we wanted to be as sincere as we could,” she said.

In “Honey West,” which aired from 1965 to 1966, Francis’ private detective character — who kept a pet ocelot, a wildcat — was a female James Bond: sexy, stylish and as good with martial arts as she was with a gun.

She was nominated for an Emmy for the role, which lasted 30 episodes.

“A lot of people speak to me about Honey West,” Francis recalled. “The character made young women think there was more they could reach for. It encouraged a lot of people.”

After a childhood career in New York radio and television and on the Broadway stage, Francis arrived in Hollywood when she landed a movie contract at MGM. She later went to 20th Century-Fox, then returned to MGM, and the two big studios afforded her the chance to act opposite the biggest male stars of the day.

In “Blackboard Jungle,” the landmark 1955 film about an idealistic teacher (Ford) in a violent city school, Francis played his pregnant wife who is targeted for harassment by one of his students.

Among her other films: “Bad Day at Black Rock” with Tracy and Robert Ryan, “Rogue Cop” with Taylor, “The Rack” with Newman, “A Lion Is in the Streets” with James Cagney, and “Hook, Line and Sinker” opposite Jerry Lewis.

When her movie career declined, Francis became active in television, appearing in dozens of series, including “Mission Impossible,” ”The Virginian,” ”My Three Sons,” ”Ironside,” ”Gunsmoke,” ”The Twilight Zone,” ”Charlie’s Angels,” ”The Golden Girls,” ”Home Improvement” and “Nash Bridges.”

Her name was Ann Marvak when she was born Sept. 16, 1930, in Ossining, N.Y.

By age 5 she was working as a model, and by 11 she was appearing on daytime radio serials, winning the nickname the Little Queen of Soap Operas. She also had some small roles on Broadway.

After her first MGM contract, during which she attended studio school with Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Powell and Natalie Wood, she returned to New York. There, she took part in television’s Golden Age, acting in such acclaimed dramatic series as “Studio One” and “U.S. Steel Hour” before returning to Hollywood.

Francis’ early marriage to actor Bam Price ended in divorce.

In addition to Jane, Francis and her second husband, Robert Abeloff, had another daughter, Maggie, before divorcing. She also is survived by a grandson.

___

Associated Press writer Jeff Wilson contributed to this report.

Photos: Associated Press file

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Subscribe for free updates!

Newsletters

View previous campaigns.

Powered by MailChimp

Nerdvana Media will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at news@nerdvanamedia.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

About the author

Avatar

Jayson Peters

Digital, social and print media pro. Nerdvana's founder, curator and editor.

Add Comment

Post a comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Samurai Comics