Anne Francis

Anne Francis (also known as Anne Lloyd Francis; September 16, 1930 – January 2, 2011) was an American actress known for her ground-breaking roles in the science-fiction film Forbidden Planet (1956) and the television action-drama series Honey West (1965–1966). Forbidden Planet marked a first in color, big-budget, science-fiction-themed motion pictures. Nine years later, Francis shattered female stereotypes in Honey West, in which she played a perky blonde private investigator who was as quick with body slams as witty one-liners. It was the first weekly TV series that featured a woman in the lead role and was named after her character. She earned a Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award nomination for her performance.[1]

Anne Francis
Black and white, with metallic-looking, off-the-shoulder wrap dress, turned left, facing camera, arm draped on chair
Studio publicity photo from the 1950s
Born(1930-09-16)September 16, 1930
DiedJanuary 2, 2011(2011-01-02) (aged 80)
Other names
  • Anne Lloyd Francis
  • Ann Francis
Years active1936–2006
Known forForbidden Planet
TelevisionHoney West
  • Bamlet Lawrence Price, Jr.
    (m. 1952; div. 1955)
  • Robert Abeloff
    (m. 1960; div. 1964)
James Best, Laura Devon, and Anne Francis in "Jess-Belle", an episode of The Twilight Zone (1963)

Francis was well known for striking physical assets – long and shapely legs, flowing blonde hair, mesmerizing blue eyes, and a trademark mole just to the right of her lower lip. The beauty mark was even written into the script of one of her films.[2] In 2005, TV Guide ranked Francis at number 18 on its "50 Sexiest Stars of All Time" list.[3]

Yet far more existed in the preternaturally poised, immensely talented Francis than mere looks. "Her beauty cloaked her brains without obscuring them," Time magazine eulogized in 2011 shortly after her death. "In one sense, she was a blend of Hollywood's two most popular female types in the '50s: the bombshell blonds (Marilyn) Monroe and (Jayne) Mansfield — an adolescent's notion of squeaky-voiced sexuality — and smart, slim vixens like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly."

Early lifeEdit

Francis was born in Ossining, New York, on September 16, 1930.[4][5] Contrary to some sources, which erroneously claim she was born Ann Marvak (rather than Francis),[1][6] her parents' marriage registration and census records from 1925 and 1930 confirm that their names were Philip Ward Francis (1900–1974) and Edith (née Albertson) Francis (1901–1995).[7][8] She was their only child.

Francis entered show business as a child, working as a model at 5 years old to assist her family during the Great Depression. She made her Broadway debut at the age of 11.[9][2]


Motion pictureEdit

Francis made her first film appearance in This Time for Keeps (1947). She played supporting roles in the films So Young, So Bad (1950), Susan Slept Here (1954), and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955); her first leading role was in Blackboard Jungle (1955). Her best-known film role is that of Altaira in Forbidden Planet (1956), a science-fiction classic that was nominated for a best-effects Oscar

Francis was the star of a provocative 1960 movie about a high-priced call girl, Girl of the Night. In 1965, she had a leading role in the William Conrad film noir Brainstorm. In 1968, she played the role of Georgia James in the feature film Funny Girl, and in the following year, played Nancy Ingersoll (the wife of Jerry Lewis's character) in the comedy Hook, Line & Sinker. She also co-starred in Impasse, an adventure film starring Burt Reynolds.[citation needed]

Career turnaroundEdit

When motion picture opportunities became scarcer for Francis near the close of the 1950s, she found herself at the career crossroads. At that point, she made what many critics considered to be a risky move to television. It proved to be a fortuitous one, however, as hers became a familiar face in made-for-TV movies and numerous series over the next three decades.

Francis began her new challenge as a guest on The Untouchables and the title character in The Doreen Maney Story. She moved on to The Twilight Zone (in "The After Hours" and "Jess-Belle") episodes. In "The After Hours", Francis made one of her most widely acclaimed TV appearances. In the June 10, 1960, episode, she was cast as Marsha White, a young woman shopping in a department store for a gift (a golden thimble) to give to her mother. An elevator operator takes her to the store's ninth floor, deserted except for an insulting salesgirl and just one object in the showcases – her thimble. Locked in overnight, White comes to realize her strange destiny. A gloss on the Philip K. Dick theme of the android who dreams he is human, “The After Hours” focuses every scene on Francis, monitoring her face for clues. Bafflement escalates into rage and then settles into acceptance that she, like the others around her, is actually a mannequin that is allowed to stray into the real world only on rare occasions. By most accounts, the role proved to be a vivid portrayal of Francis's persona in real life – at once friendly and doll-like, human, and otherworldly.

Francis appeared in two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, "Hooked" and in "Keep Me Company", as well as three episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – "What Really Happened", "Blood Bargain", and "The Trap". In 1961, she appeared twice in Route 66, first in "Play it Glissando" and then "A Month of Sundays". Francis appeared in two episodes of the Western series The Virginian, two episodes of Columbo ("Short Fuse" and "A Stitch in Crime") and the episode "Incident of the Shambling Man" on the CBS Western Rawhide. She was cast in an episode of Gene Kelly's drama series, Going My Way, based on the 1944 film of the same name. During 1964, she guest-starred in "Hideout" and "Rachel's Mother" in The Reporter, as well as two successive appearances in The Man from U.N.C.L.E..[citation needed]

Honey WestEdit

Francis saw her career rise to another level in the 1965–66 season, when she played the star role in the Honey West action drama. Honey was a shrewd, high-energy private investigator (also known as "Private Eye-ful" to media) who collaborated with hunky assistant Sam Bolt (John Ericson) in a company that was inherited from her father. At home, she cared for her pet ocelot named Bruce, a frisky feline that was identified simply "as Himself" in the final credits. The main character was formally introduced in the April 21 episode of Burke's Law titled "Who Killed the Jackpot?", after which it was spun off as a series that lasted one season and 30 half-hour episodes.

Mixing clichés from private-eye and international-espionage stories, then flipping the gender, Honey was akin to a James Bond babe with all the gadgets – she wore earrings that could be tossed like darts to emit tear gas. Honey navigated hairpin turns on high-speed chases in her top-down Cobra sports car, and more significantly, she displayed the kind of business acumen that only men were supposed to possess in the era. All the while, Private Eye-ful captured the imagination of her many male fans with newly fluffed hair, flapping eyelashes, and omnipresent facial mole, which was featured so prominently in the opening credits that it competed with Bolt for co-star honors.

Another unique element of the series was the ability of Honey to best bad guys with an assortment of judo and karate moves, some of which she performed herself. Four months before production, Francis took up martial arts under the tutelage of Hawaiian martial arts guru Gordon Doversola at his Hollywood headquarters. While a double executed the more physical and complex maneuvers, she was proficient enough to appear in her element in the close-up shots.

Despite its pioneering main character, widespread sex appeal, frenetic pace, and slew of humorous one-liners, Honey West was cancelled largely because of budgetary considerations. ABC executives seemingly believed a similarly themed series called The Avengers could be imported from the United Kingdom at a more modest production cost, yet some critics contended that, if Honey West had been expanded to one hour and perhaps moved to another time slot, it would have had long-term impact. As it turned out, its renown lasted longer than the actual series, which would have a substantial cult following in subsequent years.

Late television careerEdit

Francis made a guest appearance in a 1967 episode of The Fugitive and one called "The Saucer", in The Invaders the same year. She guest-starred in a 1973 episode, "Murder in the Doll's House", of Barnaby Jones.[10]

At the start of the final season of My Three Sons in 1971, Francis played bowling-alley waitress Terri Dowling, who married character Laird Fergus McBain Douglas of Sithian Bridge, Scotland, and returned to his homeland as royalty. (Fred MacMurray played the dual-character roles of Steve Douglas and Fergus McBain Douglas in this four-part story arc.) She appeared twice as a guest star on Columbo, once as the manipulated lover of the murderer ("Short Fuse", 1972) and once as the murder victim ("A Stitch in Crime", 1973).[citation needed]

In 1974, Francis appeared as Ida, the madame of a bawdy house on the series Kung Fu in the episode "Night of the Owls, Day of the Doves". In 1975, she appeared as Abby in an episode of Movin' On titled "The Price of Loving". In 1976, she appeared as Lola Flynn in an episode of Wonder Woman, entitled "Beauty on Parade". In 1977, she appeared as Lieutenant Commander Gladys Hope, the head nurse in two episodes of the World War II series Baa Baa Black Sheep. She portrayed Melissa Osborne in the episode "How Do I Kill Thee?" of The Eddie Capra Mysteries in 1978.[citation needed]

During the 1980–81 season of Dallas, Francis had a recurring role as Arliss Cooper, the mother of Mitch and Afton Cooper. In 1982, she played the armored car-robbing mother in "In the Best of Families" episode of CHiPs. She later played Mama Jo in the first few episodes of the 1984 TV-detective series Riptide.[11] In that same year, she guest-starred in the premiere episode of Murder, She Wrote, credited as Anne Lloyd Francis; she went on to guest-star in two more episodes during the show's run. In December 1984 and again credited as Anne Lloyd Francis, she guest-starred in a Christmas-themed episode of The Love Boat playing the mother of Kim Lankford's character, Carol, in the storyline of "Noel's Christmas Carol". She appeared on episodes of Matlock and The Golden Girls.

In 1996, Francis appeared in the Wings episode "The Lady Vanishes", as Vera, a 1940s gun moll-type character. In 1997, in the Home Improvement episode "A Funny Valentine", she appeared as Liddy, Tim Allen's high-school classmate's mother. She guest-starred in 1998 on The Drew Carey Show as the mother of Drew's girlfriend Nicki in the episodes "Nicki's Parents" and "Nicki's Wedding". Francis' final television acting role was in "Shadows", a 2004 episode of Without a Trace.[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Francis was married to United States Air Force pilot Bamlet Lawrence Price, Jr.,[1] from May 1952 through April 1955, and to Robert Abeloff from 1960 through 1964; she never remarried after divorcing Abeloff.[12][13]

Francis was a Democrat and supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election.[14]

Francis and Abeloff had one daughter, Jane Elizabeth Abeloff (born March 21, 1962).[15] Francis later adopted Margaret "Maggie" West in 1970,[16][17] one of the first adoptions granted to an unmarried person in California.[1]

Francis studied flying toward the end of the 1960s, eventually earning her pilot's license.[18]

In 1982, Francis published an autobiography, Voices from Home, subtitled An Inner Journey.[19] On its cover, she wrote that the book "is my spiritual exposé. It is about our essence of being, the inner workings of mind and spirit which contribute to the growth of the invisible and most important part of us."[20]

A moderate-to-heavy smoker for much of her adult life, Francis said that she quit the habit in the mid-1980s. Concerned about appetite and weight loss in early 2006, friends implored her to take a medical examination that summer. Blood tests and a CAT scan revealed nonsmall-cell lung cancer a short time later. In 2005, TV Guide ranked Francis number 18 on its "50 Sexiest Stars of All Time" list.[3]

"I am scared – I'm not out of the woods yet," Francis confided to Globe magazine in an early 2007 interview. "I'm doing all I can to make this the year for full healing."[citation needed]

Francis immediately began grueling chemotherapy treatments. In September, the tumor shrank to the point that allowed for the removal of the upper lobe of her right lung. She resumed chemotherapy in December, only to encounter a setback. Despite her weakened condition, Francis continued to make appearances at TV nostalgia fan events. She also kept a legion of followers abreast of activities via her website, but no sooner had the lung cancer subsided than it gradually spread to her pancreas.

"It has been an emotional and spiritual roller coaster," Francis described her ordeal. "It's hard not knowing the outcome, but I thank everyone for keeping me in their thoughts and prayers."

The 80-year-old Francis died from complications due to pancreatic cancer on January 2, 2011, at a retirement home in Santa Barbara, California.[5] She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.[21]

Partial filmographyEdit

Leslie Nielsen and Francis in Forbidden Planet, 1956


  1. ^ a b c d "Anne Francis". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 2011-01-13. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Archived from the original on 2022-01-12. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Corliss, Richard (2011-01-08). "Remembering Anne Francis (1930–2011)". Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  3. ^ a b TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-7624-3007-9.
  4. ^ Some sources incorrectly cite Francis' year of birth as 1932
  5. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis (January 3, 2011). "Anne Francis dies at 80; co-starred in the 1950s science-fiction classic 'Forbidden Planet'". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Thomas, Bob (2011-01-07). "Anne Francis; at 80; actress was television's 'Honey West'". The Boston Globe. Boston, MA: The New York Times Company. ISSN 0743-1791. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  7. ^ Yorktown Heights, New York
    Enumeration District No. 375 or 376 (illegible)
    Sheet 5B
    April 8, 1930
    Philip Ward Francis (aged 29)
    Edith Francis (aged 29)
    Edna Francis (Philip's mother; aged 59)
    Helen Albertson (sister-in-law; aged 15)

    New York, State Census, 1925
    Philip Ward Francis (aged 24)
    Edith Francis (aged 24)
    Edna Francis (Philip's mother; aged 54)

    New York, New York, Marriage Index 1866-1937
    Certificate Number: 6288
    Philip W Francis
    Gender: Male
    Marriage Date: 24 Feb 1923
    Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA
    Spouse: Edith A Albertson
  8. ^ Wagner, Laura. Anne Francis: The Life and Career, McFarland & Company, 2011; ISBN 978-0-7864-6365-7.
  9. ^ Weaver, Tom. Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews, p. 162 (McFarland & Company, 2003); ISBN 0-7864-1366-2
  10. ^ Full cast and crew credits for Barnaby Jones, episode: “Murder in the Doll’s House” from IMDb. [1]
  11. ^ Kleiner, Dick (March 20, 1984). "Anne Francis is a victim of 'Riptide'. Newspaper Enterprise Association, Harlan Daily Enterprise (Harlan, Kentucky), Vol. 68. p. 7; retrieved May 2, 2013.
  12. ^ Byrge, Duane (January 3, 2011). "'Forbidden Planet' Star Anne Francis Dies at Age 80". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  13. ^ "Film actress wed to UCLA student". Los Angeles Times. May 18, 1952. p. 14. Retrieved May 2, 2013 – via ProQuest. (subscription required)
  14. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, p. 33, Ideal Publishers
  15. ^ Michael, Paul and Parish, James Robert. The American Movies Reference Book: the Sound Era, p. 110. (Celestial Arts), 1969; ISBN 978-0130281340.
  16. ^ "Anne Francis – The Private Life and Times of Anne Francis. Anne Francis Pictures". Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  17. ^ "Actress Adopts Child". Chicago Tribune (UPI Telephoto – via ProQuest), May 29, 1970. p. 17; retrieved May 2, 2013. (subscription required)
  18. ^ Anne Francis – Army Archerd interview on YouTube
  19. ^ "Actress to Introduce Her Autobiography at Round Table West Meeting Thursday". Los Angeles Times. September 14, 1982. p. F3. Retrieved May 2, 2013 – via ProQuest. (subscription required)
  20. ^ Francis, Anne (1982). Voices from Home: An Inner Journe (1st ed.). Celestial Arts. p. dust jacket. ISBN 978-0890873403. Because I am an actress, I am sure the first response to my having written a book will be, "Aha, another Hollywood biography." Since the market is flooded with biographies of professional revelations from many luminaries and super stars, the next response might quite possibly be, 'Who cares?'. I care! I care because VOICES FROM HOME is not a book about hidden skeletons, social calendars, and name revealing dalliances. It is far more intimate. It is my spiritual expose. It is about our essence of being, the unexplicable reality of mysticism, psychic phenomena, and the inner workings of mind and spirit which contribute to the growth of the invisible and most important part of us; hidden from the glare of lights and the camera's eye.
  21. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997 – via Google Books.

External linksEdit