Archive for the ‘WW2 Pin Up Girls’ Category
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas, the daughter of Clara Emma (Birdwell) and John Alfred Collier, a criminal lawyer who represented the Barrow Gang, Machine Gun Kelly, and Baby Face Nelson, among others. Miller’s maternal grandmother was Cherokee. Miller’s father insisted on the name Johnnie because he had wanted a boy, but she was often called Annie. She took up dancing to exercise her legs to help her rickets. She was considered a child dance prodigy.
At the age of 13 Ann had been hired as a dancer in the Black Cat Club in San Francisco (she had told them she was 18). It was there she was discovered by Lucille Ball and talent scoutcomic Benny Rubin. And in 1937, RKO asked her to sign on as a contract player, but only if she could prove she was 18. Though she was really barely 14, she managed to get hold of a fake birth certificate, and so was signed on, playing dancers and ingÃ©nues in such films as Stage Door (1937), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), Room Service (1938) and Too Many Girls (1940). In 1939 she appeared on Broadway in George White’s Scandals and was a smash, staying on for two years. Eventually RKO released her from her contract, but Columbia Pictures snapped her up to appear in such WW II morale boosters as True to the Army (1942) and Reveille with Beverly (1943). When she decided to get married, Columbia released her from her contract. The marriage was sadly unhappy and she was divorced in two years. This time MGM picked her up, showcasing her in such films as Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949), and Kiss Me Kate (1953). In the mid-’50s she asked to leave to marry again, and her request was granted. This marriage didn’t last long, either, nor did a third.
Ann Miller invented pantyhose in the 1940s as a solution to the problem of continual torn stockings during the filming of dance production numbers. The common practice had been to sew hosiery to briefs worn by Miller. If torn, the entire garment had to be removed and resewn with a new pair. At Ann’s request, hosiery was manufactured for her as a single pantyhose.
Ann was famed for her speed in tap dancing. Studio publicists concocted press releases claiming she could tap 500 times per minute, but in truth, the sound of ultra-fast 500 taps was looped in later. Because the stage floors were slick and slippery, she actually danced in shoes with rubber soles. Later she would loop the sound of the taps while watching the film and actually dancing on a tap board to match her steps in the film.
She was known, especially later in her career, for her distinctive appearance, which reflected a studio-era ideal of glamor massive black bouffant hair, heavy makeup with a slash of crimson lipstick, and fashions that emphasized her lithe figure and long dancer’s legs. Her film career effectively ended in 1956 as the studio system lost steam to television, but she remained active in the theater and on television. She starred on Broadway in the musical Mame in 1969, in which she wowed the audience in a tap number created just for her. In 1979 she astounded audiences in the Broadway show Sugar Babies with fellow MGM veteran Mickey Rooney, which toured the United States extensively after its Broadway run. In 1983 she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theater.
She appeared in a special 1982 episode of The Love Boat, joined by fellow showbiz legends Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Della Reese, Van Johnson, and Cab Calloway in a storyline that cast them as older relatives of the show’s regular characters. In 2001 she took her last role, playing Coco in auteur director David Lynch’s critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive. Her last stage performance was a 1998 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, in which she played the hardboiled survivor Carlotta Campion and received rave reviews for her rendition of the anthemic I’m Still Here.
Ann Miller also performed a guest appearance on the TV series Home Improvement as a dance instructor to Tim and Jill. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Ann Miller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6914 Hollywood Blvd.
Ann was parodied on Saturday Night Live. She was played by Molly Shannon as a talk show host, with Debbie Reynolds (played by Cheri Oteri), on a show called Legs Up.
She died in Los Angeles, California on January 22, 2004 at the age of 80 from cancer, which had metastasized to her lungs, and was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Pin Up: Joan Dixon WWII Pin Up: Claire Trevor WWII Pin Up: Diana Lewis
Nan Wynn was an American big-band singer and actress. Born on May 8, 1915 was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia, where she attended high school, and sang in the school choir. Nan Wynn recorded with many well-known orchestras, including those of Teddy Wilson, Freddie Rich, Raymond Scott and Hal Kemp. Wynn appeared in many films, usually as a nightclub singer, with a starring role opposite William Lundigan in the 1941 film a “Shot in the Dark” (1941), as well as appearances in other such films as “Million Dollar Baby” (1941), “Princess O’Rourke” (1943) and “Intrigue” (1947). Wynn is perhaps best-known for dubbing Rita Hayworth’s singing voice in several of her films, including “My Gal Sal” (1942) and “You Were Never Lovelier” (1942). She appeared in Billy Rose’s 1944 Broadway musical production the “Seven Lively Arts”.
Wynn was married three times. Her first husband, from 1944 to 1947 was producer, writer, and director Cy Howard (Seymour Horowitz). In 1949 she married Dr. Thomas Baylek, with whom she had a daughter, Jane. Wynn was 55 at the time of her death in 1971 she was described as the widow of John Small.
Wynn retired from show business in 1951, following complications and facial paralysis due to her 1949 surgery, and settled into the life of a housewife in York, Pennsylvania. She eventually recovered the use of her facial muscles and became involved in the state cancer crusade in 1959, after which she appeared at American Cancer Society events for several years
Take a look at these other WWII Pin Ups:K.T. Stevens The Wilde Twins Cleo Moore
Elizabeth Ruth Grable ( Betty Grable) was born on December 18, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother Lillian was a stubborn and materialistic woman who was determined to make her daughter a star. Elizabeth, who later became Betty, was enrolled in Clark’s Dancing School at the age of three. With her mother’s guidance, Betty studied ballet and tap dancing. At 13, Betty and her mother set out for Hollywood with the hopes of stardom. Lillian lied about her daughter’s age, and Ruth landed several minor parts in films in 1930, such as “Whoopee!” (1930), “New Movietone Follies of 1930” (1930), “Happy Days” (1929/I) and “Let’s Go Places” (1930). In 1932 she signed with RKO Pictures. The bit parts continued for the next three years. Betty finally landed a substantial part in “By Your Leave” (1934). One of her big roles was in “College Swing” (1938). Unfortunately, the public didn’t seem to take notice. She was beginning to think she was a failure. The next year she married former child star Jackie Coogan. His success boosted hers, but they divorced in 1940. When she landed the role of Glenda Crawford in “Down Argentine Way” (1940), the public finally took notice of this shining bright star. Stardom came through comedies such as “Coney Island” (1943) and “Sweet Rosie O’Grady” (1943).
The public was enchanted with Betty. Her famous pin-up pose during World War II adorned barracks all around the world. With that pin-up and as the star of lavish musicals, Betty became the highest-paid star in Hollywood. After the war, her star continued to rise. In 1947 the US Treasury Department noted that she was the highest paid star in America, earning about $300,000 a year – a phenomenal sum even by today’s standards. Later, 20th Century-Fox, who had her under contract, insured her legs with Lloyds of London for a million dollars. Betty continued to be popular until the mid-50s, when musicals went into a decline. Her last film was “How to Be Very, Very Popular” (1955). She then concentrated on Broadway and nightclubs. In 1965 she divorced band leader Harry James, whom she had wed in 1943. Betty died July 2, 1973, of lung cancer at age 56 in Santa Monica, California. Her funeral was held July 5, 1973, 30 years to the day after her marriage to Harry James – who, in turn, died on what would have been his and Grable’s 40th anniversary, July 5, 1983. Her life was an active one, devoid of the scandals that plagued many stars in one way or another. In reality, she cared for her family and the family life more than stardom. In that way, she was a true star.’
Betty Grable’s measurements: 34 1/2-24-36 (self-described 1940), 36-24-35 (at time of her famous WWII pin-up poster), 36-23-35 (at a fit 112# in 1958), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
Height: 5′ 4″ (1.63 m)
Wore size 5A shoes. (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
Had a relationship with George Raft for 2-1/2 years, and ended it because he could not get a divorce from his Catholic wife.
Was a somnambulist (sleep-walker)
Did Playtex 18-hour Shortie commercials in the 1960s using her famous pinup pose — purportedly because she needed the money after her husband had spent her savings.
She and Harry James had two daughters, Victoria Elizabeth James (b. March 3, 1944) and Jessica James (b. May 20, 1947).Take a look at these other WWII Posts:WWII Today: June 5 WWII Pin Up: Ginger Rogers Virginia Grey