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June Allyson

June AllysonAKA Ella Geisman

Born: 7-Oct-1917
Birthplace: Bronx, NY
Died: 8-Jul-2006
Location of death: Ojai, CA
Cause of death: Respiratory failure
Remains: Cremated

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Two Girls and a Sailor

After her parents divorced when she was a toddler, June Allyson was raised by her mother and maternal grandmother. She rarely saw her father after the divorce. At the age of nine, she was injured when lightning struck a tree. A heavy branch fell, crushing and killing a friend, and maiming Allyson's legs. Despite her doctors' pessimism, she stubbornly regained her ability to walk, and, enthralled by Hollywood musicals, she taught herself to dance. Her awkward gait eventually faded to a slight limp, and finally disappeared.

As a teenager, Allyson paid to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in The Gay Divorcee, 18 times. When she was 20 and had still only danced for fun, she went to her first professional audition on a dare. She was unsure what to expect, and after dancing she was sure she had performed poorly, but by the time she got home the producers had already given her a call-back. Allyson made her professional debut in the Broadway chorusline of Sing Out the News, which starred a very young Will Geer.

She continued appearing on Broadway, but in small roles. In her fourth play, Cole Porter's Panama Hattie with Ethel Merman, Allyson understudied Betty Hutton, and earned good reviews when Hutton missed five performances and Allyson stepped in. She had a bigger role in her next play, Best Foot Forward, with Stanley Donen, choreographed by Gene Kelly. The play was a hit, and MGM bought the rights, and brought Allyson to Hollywood. It was filmed with Lucille Ball in the lead, and Allyson and Gloria DeHaven in key supporting roles. Due to a clerical error, their credits were reversed when listed in the film, and for years fans and even agents often confused one actress for the other.

Allyson's best films include the 1948 The Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly as D'Artagnan, Executive Suite, The Glenn Miller Story and The [Monte] Stratton Story. She was tough yet graceful as the tomboy Jo in the 1949 film of Little Women, and she sang and danced in Two Sisters from Boston, The Opposite Sex, and Two Girls and a Sailor. Allyson was the #1 female movie star for six straight years, as voted by theater owners.

She married actor Dick Powell, 13 years older than she was, before such marriages became common. Their boss, MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, tried to talk them out of it, but relented when the fatherless Allyson batted her eyes and asked him to give her away. They remained married until Powell's death in 1963. The couple co-starred in a few forgettable films, and he directed her in You Can't Run Away from It, an amusing remake of It Happened One Night, with Allyson in Claudette Colbert's role and Jack Lemmon as Clark Gable. Powell also produced Allyson's 1959-61 anthology TV series, and they had two children and a seemingly happy marriage.

When Powell died, Allyson quickly remarried and almost as quickly divorced. In a scandal that threatened to end Allyson's career, her mother sued for custody of her children, alleging that she was an unfit mother. She dropped out of moviemaking, and mother and daughter settled their lawsuit when Allyson's new boyfriend was named as the children's co-guardian. The boyfriend was Dirk Summers, later a writer for Emergency, and director of the ecological documentary Survival of Spaceship Earth. They lived together for 14 years, until 1975, but never married.

Allyson returned to acting with limited success in the early 1970s, and continued guest starring on TV through the mid-1980s. In 1976, she married a dentist who fancied himself an actor, and they toured together in plays. In 1984 she became spokesperson for Depends adult diapers.

Father: Robert Geisman (janitor)
Mother: Clara Geisman (print shop worker)
Brother: Henry Geisman
Father: Arthur Peters (stepfather, married Clara Geisman)
Boyfriend: Tommy Mitchell (radio singer)
Husband: Dick Powell (actor, m. 19-Aug-1945, d. 2-Jan-1963, four children)
Son: Richard Powell, Jr. (film industry)
Daughter: Pamela Allyson Powell (adopted)
Husband: Alfred Glenn Maxwell (m. 1963, div. 1963)
Boyfriend: Dirk Summers (cohabited 1963-75)
Husband: David Ashrow (dentist, m. 1976, until her death)

    High School: Theodore Roosevelt High School, Bronx, NY (1935)

    Endorsement of Kimberly-Clark Depend adult underwear
    Hollywood Walk of Fame
    Dutch Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Smoking

    That's Entertainment! III (16-Jun-1994) · Herself
    The Kid with the Broken Halo (5-Apr-1982)
    Blackout (28-Jun-1978)
    Three on a Date (17-Feb-1978)
    Curse of the Black Widow (16-Sep-1977)
    Letters from Three Lovers (3-Oct-1973)
    They Only Kill Their Masters (22-Nov-1972)
    A Stranger in My Arms (3-Mar-1959)
    My Man Godfrey (11-Oct-1957) · Irene Bullock
    Interlude (1957)
    You Can't Run Away from It (31-Oct-1956)
    The Opposite Sex (26-Oct-1956) · Kay
    The McConnell Story (29-Sep-1955)
    Strategic Air Command (25-Mar-1955) · Sally Holland
    The Shrike (1955)
    Woman's World (28-Sep-1954)
    Executive Suite (6-May-1954) · Mary Blemond Walling
    The Glenn Miller Story (10-Dec-1953) · Helen Berger
    Remains to be Seen (15-May-1953)
    Battle Circus (6-Mar-1953) · Lt. Ruth McGara
    The Girl in White (23-May-1952)
    Too Young to Kiss (22-Nov-1951) · Cynthia Potter
    Right Cross (15-Nov-1950) · Pat O'Malley
    The Reformer and the Redhead (5-May-1950)
    The Stratton Story (12-May-1949)
    Little Women (10-Mar-1949) · Jo
    Words and Music (9-Dec-1948) · Alisande La Carteloise
    The Three Musketeers (20-Oct-1948) · Constance
    The Bride Goes Wild (3-Mar-1948)
    Good News (26-Dec-1947) · Connie Lane
    High Barbaree (May-1947) · Nancy Frazer
    The Secret Heart (25-Dec-1946) · Penny Addams
    Till the Clouds Roll By (5-Dec-1946) · Singer -- Jane
    Two Sisters from Boston (Apr-1946) · Martha Canford Chandler
    The Sailor Takes a Wife (28-Dec-1945)
    Her Highness and the Bellboy (11-Jul-1945) · Leslie Odell
    Music for Millions (18-Dec-1944) · Barbara Ainsworth
    Two Girls and a Sailor (27-Apr-1944) · Patsy Deyo
    Meet the People (21-Apr-1944) · Annie
    Girl Crazy (26-Nov-1943) · Specialty
    Thousands Cheer (13-Sep-1943) · Herself
    Best Foot Forward (29-Jun-1943) · Minerva

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