Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Farewell, Anne Francis

Anne Francis died on January 2, 2011 of complications from pancreatic cancer.  She passed away at a Santa Barbara nursing home at the age of 80.  Born in Ossining, New York on September 16, 1930, Anne worked at a young age as a model to assist her family during the Depression.  She made her film debut in This Time for Keeps (1947).  Although her first leading role was in The Blackboard Jungle (1955), she is best known for her performance as Altaira in the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet.
Through the years, Anne made scores of television appearances and performed in a number of TV movies.  However, she is best remembered for her starring role in Honey West.  Honey West was a short-lived series.  It ran on the ABC network from September 17, 1965 until September 2, 1966 and there were only 30 episodes.  One of the executive producers of the show was some guy named Aaron Spelling.  I wonder whatever happened to him.
Although Honey West did not last long, it made quite an impact.  Anne Francis played the title character, a woman who had inherited her late father’s private detective firm.  It must be remembered that an independent female detective was very rare back in 1965, especially one like Honey West.  She was skilled in judo and karate and owned some amazing devices, including a lipstick that contained a radio transmitter and tear-gas earrings.  Oh yes, she even had a pet ocelot named Bruce.
In the 1960s, Anne Francis appeared in two episodes of one of my favourite television series, The Twilight Zone.  She starred as Marsha White in a 1960 episode entitled "The After Hours" in which department store mannequins come to life.  In a 1963 episode called "Jess-Bell", she played a woman who is determined to prevent her ex-boyfriend from marrying his fiancĂ©e. 

During the '60s, Anne also made appearances in such programs as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Burke's Law (in which she first  played the role of Honey West), The Fugitive and Mission Impossible.
In the 1970s and '80s, Anne was a frequent guest star on television.  She showed up in such TV shows as The F.B.I., Cannon, Columbo, Barnaby Jones, Wonder Woman, Police Woman, Fantasy Island, Simon and Simon, Trapper John, M.D., Charlie’s Angels, CHiPs Hawaii Five-0 and The Golden Girls.  In 1981, she played the role of Arliss Cooper in four episodes of Dallas. 
During the 1990s, Anne appeared in such series as Wings, Nash Bridges, The Drew Carey Show and Home Improvement.  Her final television appearance was in 2004 in Without a Trace.
Rest in Peace, Anne Lloyd Francis.

Note to fans of The Twilight Zone:  If you are crazy about Rod Serling’s iconic series, you just have to check out a website called My Life in the Shadow of The Twilight Zone.  It is the most comprehensive and interesting collection of information and commentary about The Twilight Zone that I have ever seen.  I highly recommend that you check it out at

- Joanne

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