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Swing for Sale





Words and Music

Alisande La Carteloise








Little Women

Josephine "Jo" March



Ups and Downs

June Daily




The Stratton Story




Dime a Dance





The Reformer and the Redhead

Kathleen Maguire



Dates and Nuts

Wilma Brown, Herman's girl




Right Cross

Pat O'Malley



Sing for Sweetie

Sally Newton




Too Young to Kiss

Cynthia Potter



The Prisoner of Swing





The Girl in White

Dr. Emily Barringer



The Knight Is Young





Battle Circus

Lt. Ruth McCara



Rollin' in Rhythm





Remains to Be Seen

Jody Revere



All Girl Revue





The Glenn Miller Story

Helen Burger Miller



Best Foot Forward





Executive Suite

Mary Blemond Walling



Girl Crazy

Specialty Singer




Woman's World

Katie Baxter



Two Girls and a Sailor

Patsy Deyo




Strategic Air Command

Sally Holland



Meet the People





The Shrike

Ann Downs



Music for Millions

Barbara Ainsworth




The McConnell Story

Pearl "Butch" Brown



Her Highness and the Bellboy

Leslie Odell




The Opposite Sex

Kay Hilliard



The Sailor Takes a Wife

Mary Hill




You Can't Run Away from It

Ellen "Ellie" Andrews



Two Sisters from Boston

Martha Canford Chandler





Helen Banning



Till the Clouds Roll By

Jane Witherspoon/Lou Ellen




My Man Godfrey

Irene Bullock



The Secret Heart

Penny Addams




A Stranger in My Arms

Christina Beasley



High Barbaree

Nancy Frazer




They Only Kill Their Masters

Mrs. Watkins



Good News

Connie Lane





Mrs. Grant



The Bride Goes Wild

Martha Terryton




A Girl, Three Guys, and a Gun

Joey's Grandma



The Three Musketeers

Constance Bonacieux





Early work


With the death of her stepfather and a bleak future ahead, she left high school after completing two and half years, to seek jobs as a dancer. Her first $60-a-week job was as a tap dancer at the Lido Club in Montreal. Returning to New York, she found work as an actress in movie short subjects filmed by Educational Pictures at its Astoria, Queens NY, studio.[14]  Fiercely ambitious, Allyson tried her hand at modeling, but to her consternation became the "sad-looking before part" in a before-and-after bathing suit magazine ad.[15]


Musical shorts


Her first career break came when Educational cast her as an ingénue opposite singer Lee Sullivan, comic dancers Herman Timberg, Jr., and Pat Rooney, Jr., and future comedy star Danny Kaye in a series of shorts. These included Swing for Sale (1937), Pixilated (1937), Ups and Downs (1937), Dime a Dance (1938), Dates and Nuts (1938) and Sing for Sweetie (1938).[16] When Educational ceased operations, Allyson moved to Vitaphone in Brooklyn and starred or co-starred (with dancer Hal Le Roy) in musical shorts. These included The Prisoner of Swing (1938), The Knight Is Young (1938), Rollin' in Rhythm (1939) and All Girl Revue (1940).




Interspersing jobs in the chorus line at the Copacabana Club with acting roles at Vitaphone, the diminutive 5'1" (1.55 m), weighing less than 100 pounds, red-headed Allyson landed a chorus job in the Broadway show Sing out the News in 1938.[17] The legend is that the choreographer gave her a job and a new name: Allyson, a family name, and June, for the month,[8] although like many aspects of her career resume, the story is highly unlikely as she was already dubbing herself "June Allyson" prior to her Broadway engagement and has even attributed the name to a later director.[N 2] Allyson subsequently appeared in the chorus in the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical Very Warm for May (1939).[14] When Vitaphone discontinued New York production in 1940, Allyson returned to the New York stage to take on more chorus roles in Rodgers and Hart's Higher and Higher (1940) and Cole Porter's Panama Hattie (1940).


Broadway stardom


Her dancing and musical talent led to a stint as an understudy for the lead, Betty Hutton, and when Hutton contracted measles, Allyson appeared in five performances of Panama Hattie.[14] Broadway director George Abbott caught one of the nights, and offered Allyson one of the lead roles in his production of Best Foot Forward (1941).[18][16]


Early films


After her appearance in the Broadway musical, Allyson was selected for the 1943 film version of Best Foot Forward.[19] When she arrived in Hollywood, the production had not started, so MGM "placed her on the payroll" of Girl Crazy (1943). Despite playing a "bit part", Allyson received good reviews as a sidekick to Best Foot Forward's star, Lucille Ball, but was still relegated to the "drop list".[20] MGM's musical supervisor, Arthur Freed, saw her test sent up by an agent and insisted that Allyson be put on contract immediately.[21] Another musical, Thousands Cheer (1943), was again a showcase for her singing and dancing, albeit still in a minor role.[22] As a new starlet, although Allyson had already been a performer on stage and screen for more than five years, she was presented as an "overnight sensation," with Hollywood press agents attempting to portray her as an ingénue, selectively slicing years off her true age. Studio bios listed her variously as being born in 1922 and 1923.[7]


Rising fame


Allyson's breakthrough was in Two Girls and a Sailor (1944) where the studio image of the "girl next door"[23] was fostered by her being cast alongside long-time acting chum Van Johnson, the quintessential "boy next door."[24] As the "sweetheart team," Johnson and Allyson were to appear together in four later films.[25][26] Allyson supported Lucille Ball again in Meet the People (1944), a flop. It was on this film she met Dick Powell who became her husband.[27] She supported Margaret O'Brien in Music for Millions (1944) and was billed after Robert Walker and Hedy Lamarr in the romantic comedy Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945).




Allyson was top billed along with Walker in The Sailor Takes a Wife (1945). She did Two Sisters from Boston (1946) with Kathryn Grayson and Peter Lawford, and was one of several MGM stars in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946). Allyson did her first drama, The Secret Heart (1946) with Claudette Colbert and Walter Pidgeon.[26] She was reunited with Johnson in High Barbaree (1947) and followed that with the musical Good News (1947).[18] She did a comedy with Johnson, The Bride Goes Wild (1948) then played Constance in the hugely popular The Three Musketeers (1948). Her "Thou Swell" was a high point of the Rodgers and Hart biopic Words and Music (1948), as performed in the "A Connecticut Yankee" segment with the Blackburn Twins.[26]

Allyson played the tomboy Jo March in Little Women (1949), a huge hit.


She was adept at crying on cue, and many of her films incorporated a crying scene. Fellow MGM player Margaret O'Brien recalled that she and Allyson were known as "the town criers".[28] "I cried once in a picture and they said 'let's do it again' and I cried for the rest of my career," she later said.[29] MGM announced Allyson would be in Forever by Mildred Crann but it was not made.[26] Instead she went into The Stratton Story (1949) with James Stewart which would be her favorite film.[29] She made two films with Dick Powell, The Reformer and the Redhead (1950) and Right Cross (1950) then was reunited with Johnson in Too Young to Kiss (1951).


In 1950 Allyson had been signed to appear opposite her childhood idol Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding, but had to leave the production because of pregnancy. (She was replaced initially by Judy Garland, who in turn was replaced by Jane Powell.) Allyson played a doctor in The Girl in White (1952), which lost money, and a nurse in Battle Circus (1953), a hit.[25] She did Remains to Be Seen (1953) with Johnson, which was a flop. In May 1953 she and MGM agreed to part ways by mutual consent.[30]


Post MGM


Allyson had a huge hit at Universal with The Glenn Miller Story (1954). At MGM she was in another big success, Executive Suite (1954). She went to Fox for Woman's World (1954) which did less well. Allyson was teamed with Stewart again in Strategic Air Command (1955), at Paramount, another success.[31] She had a change of pace in The Shrike (1955) with Jose Ferrer at Universal; it flopped. More popular was The McConnell Story (1955) with Alan Ladd at Warner Bros. Allyson did some musical remakes of classic films, The Opposite Sex (1956) at MGM and You Can't Run Away from It (1956) at Columbia, directed by Powell.[16] She signed with Universal and did two more remakes: Interlude (1957), a drama for Douglas Sirk, and My Man Godfrey (1957) a comedy with David Niven. She then made A Stranger in My Arms (1958) with Jeff Chandler. The box office failure of these films effectively ended her reign as a movie star.[29]




The DuPont Show with June Allyson (1959–60) ran for two seasons on CBS and was an attempt to use a "high budget" formula. She later called it "the hardest thing I ever did."[32] Her efforts were dismissed by the entertainment reviewer in the LA Examiner as "reaching down to the level of mag fiction."[33] However, TV Guide and other fan magazines such as TV considered Allyson's foray into television as revitalizing her fame and career for a younger audience, and remarked that her stereotyping by the movie industry as the "girl next door" was the "waste and neglect of talent on its own doorstep."[34] She also appeared on shows like Zane Grey Theater, The Dick Powell Theatre and Burke's Law before retiring for several years in the death of Powell in 1963.[16]


Return to acting


Allyson returned to acting with an appearance in The Name of the Game. In 1970, she briefly starred in Forty Carats on Broadway. Throughout the 1970s, she appeared regularly on television on shows such as See the Man Run (1971), The Sixth Sense (1972), and Letters from Three Lovers (1973), as well as in the film They Only Kill Their Masters (1972).[16] Later appearances include Curse of the Black Widow (1977), Three on a Date (1978), Vega$ (1978), Blackout (1978), House Calls, The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982) Simon & Simon, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Murder, She Wrote, Misfits of Science, Crazy Like a Fox, and Airwolf. Her last screen appearance was not in These Old Broads (possibly due to a recall of the Joan Collins 1956 film incident), but was actually in A Girl, Three Guys, and a Gun (2001).