Sunday, November 21, 2010
June Allyson (October 7, 1917 – July 8, 2006). Film and television actress, popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Allyson won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her performance in, Too Young to Kiss (1951). From 1959–1961, she hosted her own CBS TV show, The DuPont Show with June Allyson.
During World War II, Allyson was selected for the film version of, Best Foot Forward (1943). The story is about Bud Hooper (Dix), who sends Lucille Ball (who plays herself) an invitation to be his date at his school prom. Lucille's publicity man, Jack O'Riley (Gaxton), believes this is a perfect PR stunt and convinces her to attend the Winsocki Military Academy's dance. Hooper, who never dreamed she would accept, has to break his date with his girlfriend, Helen (Weidler), and asks Ball to pretend to be Helen. Knowing the school would not allow her to attend as herself. Hooper has a hard time keeping Lucille from the other cadets. Harry James and his orchestra perform the songs, "The Flight of the Bumblebee". The cast also sing and dance their way through, "Buckle Down, Winsocki", "Wish I May," "Three Men on a Date", "Alive and Kickin'", "The Barrelhouse, The Boogie-Woogie and the Blues", and "Ev'rytime."
Despite playing a "bit part" in the film, Girl Crazy (1943), Allyson received good reviews as Lucille Ball's sidekick . The Film is about Danny Churchill, a playboy, who is taken out one of college by his father and sent to 'Cody College' located in the middle of the desert, in the hopes that he will concentrate more on his studies. He meets Ginger, the postmistress and quickly falls for her. Danny and Ginger are upset when they learn that the college must close, because of financial reasons. Danny meets with the state governor, and asks him if they can save the school if enrolments improve? Danny puts on a show to 'bring back the old west', with Tommy Dorsey's band .
When MGM's musical supervisor, Arthur Freed saw her test and insisted that Allyson be put on contract. Another musical, Thousands Cheer (1943) was again a showcase for her singing and dancing. The movie is a two-part story. The first half is a romantic/comedy about an aerialist, played by Gene Kelly, who is drafted into the US Army. During training, he falls in love with Kathryn ( Kathryn Grayson), the daughter of his commanding officer, who has also put her singing career on hold in to provide entertainment for the troops. Kathryn has just met her father for the first time because her parents were divorced. Kathryn tries to get her parents(John Boles and Mary Astor) back together. Grayson sings and Kelly performs one of his most famous routines, dancing with a mop as a partner. The second part of the film becomes a variety showcase of comedy, song, and dance.
Allyson's breakthrough performance was in, Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), with Van Johnson. Johnson and Allyson were to perform together in four later films.
Allyson's early success as a musical star led to several other postwar musicals, including: Two Sisters from Boston (1946), Good News (1947). Allyson also played straight roles such as, Constance in The Three Musketeers (1948), Little Women (1949) and Battle Circus (1953).
Allyson had been signed to perform opposite Fred Astaire in, Royal Wedding, but had to leave the production due to pregnancy. She with a rising star, Jack Lemmon in a musical comedy, You Can't Run Away From It(1956). Besides Van Johnson, James Stewart was a frequent costar, teaming up with Allyson in films such as The Glenn Miller Story, The Stratton Story and Strategic Air Command.