Legendary actress, June Allyson, was born Eleanor Geisman on Oct 7, 1917 in The Bronx, NY. Allyson died at the age of 88 on Jul 8, 2006 in Ojai, CA and was cremated and her ashes given to family or friend.
June Allyson was born Eleanor Geisman on October 7th, 1917 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Her early life was not an easy one, marred by alcoholism, abandonment and poverty. Her father, Robert, was an alcoholic janitor who abandoned his wife, son, and daughter when Allyson was just six months old. She and her brother, Harry, were then forced to move in with grandparents, while their mother, Clara, tried to find work. Although their mother was eventually found employment as a telephone operator and cashier, Allyson and her brother still spent most of their childhood raised by differing family members. When Allyson was eight years old, a dead tree breach snapped and fell on the bicycling child as she took her dog for a walk. This resulted in several broken bones, a broken back, fractured skull and the death of her beloved pet. The doctors said the Allyson would never walk again and for the next four years placed her in a wheelchair while forcing her to wear a steel brace that went from her neck to her hips.
Despite the doctor's bleak diagnosis of her condition, Allyson was determined to walk and eventually stepped out of her wheelchair and into a pair of crutches. When she finally graduated to braces, she began to escape her dreary, Dickensian life by going to the movies. She quickly became enamored with the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, attempting to emulate their dance routines once she finally rid herself of those wretched braces.
After Allyson's mother remarried, the family finally had a bit of financial stability in their lives. Allyson was then enrolled in the Ned Wayburn Dancing Academy and soon began entering local dance contest. Unfortunately, tragedy struck again and Allyson's stepfather died only three years after he and Clara were married. Unable to continue dance school, Allyson dropped out in order to start her life as a dancer. She eventually found a job in Montreal before returning to New York in 1937 to act in the short Educational Pictures film Swing For Sale. She made five more shorts for the company, working with Educational until the studio went under. She was then picked up Vitaphone, first starring the 1938 short The Prisoner of Swing. She continued to work in the chorus line, dancing in the evenings while occasionally shooting a short with Vitaphone in the day.
In 1938 Allyson made her Broadway debut, dancing in the chorus line of the musical revue Sing Out the News. She continued to appear on Broadway's chorus line, dancing in shows such as the Very Warm for May and Higher and Higher. Thanks to her hard work and tenacity, she eventually became the understudy to Betty Hutton for the musical comedy Panama Hattie. When Hutton took ill for a week, Allyson finally got to show her talents beyond the chorus, starring as Florrie for five straight performances. This led her Allyson to bigger and better roles, when Broadway producer, George Abbott, sought her out to star in the musical comedy Best Foot Forward in 1941. The play was hit, with much of the praise going to Allyson's energetic performance. Now a hot new ticket on Broadway, it would not take long for Hollywood to come calling.
After her triumph on the Broadway stage, she traveled west for the chance to appear in the 1943 MGM musical comedy Best Foot Forward. In the film she appeared as Ethel, the best to the films star, Lucille Ball. Allyson received a fair amount of praise, and soon MGM producer Arthur Freed demanded the young actress be put under long-term contract. She appeared in two more film that year, playing a supporting player in both Thousand Cheer and Girl Crazy. She received first billing for the first time with 1944's Two Girls and a Sailor, along side Gloria DeHaven and Van Johnson. The film was used to help solidify Allyson's on-screen person as the quintessential "girl-next-door"-type while Van Johnson became their epitome of her equivalent, the "boy-next-door," effectively becoming "Americas Sweethearts." She continued to appear in mostly musicals for the next couple of years, starring in films like Her Highness and the Bellboy,, Two Sisters from Boston, Till the Clouds Roll by, and The Secret Heart. It was around this time that Allyson met veteran actor Dick Powell. The soon began a relationship and married in 1945. MGM began to utilize the actress's skill outside the realm of musical comedy and cast her as Constance in the 1948 George Sidney action/adventure romp The Three Musketeers. The next year briefly return to the world of musical comedy with a part in the musical revue/biographical picture Words and Music. Later that year she starred as Jo March in yet another big screen adaption of Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women. She then co-star with Jimmy Stewart in the biographical picture The Stratton Story, chronicling the life of minor league picture Monty Stratton.
As the new decade began, Allyson's popularity only grew. She began the 1950s with the Melvin Frank romantic-comedy The Reformer and the Red Head and in 1951 reunited with Van Johnson for another romantic comedy Too Young to Kiss. She teamed with Jimmy Stewart again, in 1954, for another biographical picture, this time based on the all amercing band leader Glenn Miller in the aptly titled The Glenn Miller Story. In the film Allyson played Helen Burger Miller, Glen's loyal wife. She starred with Stewart one last time in Anthony Mann's 1955 wartime drama Strategic Air Command. That same year she starred as a cruel wife who takes joy in tormenting husband in The Shrink. Her venture into the realm of villainy proved very unsuccessful as the film was failure both at the box-office and with the people. She recovered with 1956 comedy hit You Can's Run Away From It.
Later Career and Life
By the end of the 1950s, her popularity on the big screen began waning, so she opted to try a new medium: television. In 1960 she was given her own series The Dupont Show with June Allyson and later appeared on her husbands series The Dick Powell Theatre until his untimely death in 1963. She then took a hiatus from show business to work on a plethora of charities in the name of his estate. She championed the causes of urological and gynecological diseases in seniors and would later become the spokesperson for adult incontinences products. Powell's wealth effectively allowed Allyson to semi-retire from the business, only appearing in projects or series she truly felt passionate about. She returned to Broadway in 1970, starring in the play Forty Carats. For next two decades Allyson kept herself busy with sporadic appearances on television series such as Vega$, House Calls, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart and Murder, She Wrote. In 1982 she releases a well-reviewed autobiography titled June Allyson by June Allyson. By the 1990's she began slowing down, but still made regular appearances as an advocate for the elderly. In 2001, after a five-year hiatus from any screen, she made a cameo appearance in the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads starring Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins. Later that year she made her final performance in the comedy A Girl, Three Guys, and a Gun. After undergoing a hip replacement in 2003, Allyson's health began to slowly deteriorate. June Allyson died on July 8th, 2006 due to pulmonary respiratory failure and acute bronchitis. She was 88 years old.(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Film Stars).
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Hollywood Home Tour: Dick Powell &By The Metzinger Sisters on Jun 30, 2018 From Silver Scenes - A Blog for Classic Film Lovers
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and James StewartBy Amanda Garrett on Oct 7, 2017 From Old Hollywood Films
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THE CENTENARY BLOGATHON: June on TV in Burke's Law and Murder, She Wroteon Oct 5, 2017 From Caftan Woman
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– A PictorialBy Art on Oct 7, 2012 From Classic Cinema Gold
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Kathleen 'Kathy' Maguire: Darndest thing, that Maguire temper. Always seems to skip a generation. Take my father, for instance. Meek and mild as a lamb. His father was a bruiser. Knocked out Fitzsimmons in Butte, Montana.
Andrew 'Andy' Rockton Hale: Montana.
Kathleen 'Kathy' Maguire: Of course, it wasn't in the ring, it was in a saloon. And he wasn't wearing gloves, he hit him with a cuspidor.
[Mr. and Mrs. Walling enter an elevator]
McDonald Walling: Hey, by the way, who won today?
Mary Blemond Walling: We did.
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