In the latter stages of her long career, musical comedy star Ann Miller spent much of her time thanking her colleagues for not revealing a secret concerning her early days in Hollywood. According to Miller, she was but 14 years old when she began receiving sizeable screen roles in such RKO films as New Faces of 1937 (1937), Having Wonderful Time (1938), and Room Service (1938), thus it was illegal for her to appear on the set without a guardian or tutor. Perhaps the reason that her co-stars conspired to keep her age a secret was because she was doing so; Miller was in fact 18 when she signed her RKO contract. Not that any of this bears the slightest relevance to Ms. Miller's dazzling terpsichorean talent (in one of her Columbia-starring vehicles, she set a world record for taps-per-minute) nor her stellar contributions to such MGM Technicolor musicals as Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949), and Kiss Me Kate (1953). More famous for her winning personality and shapely stems than her acting ability, Miller tended to flounder a bit in her non-singing and non-dancing appearances; thus, when the MGM brand of musicals went out of fashion in the mid-'50s, her film career came to a standstill. Continuing to prosper on the nightclub circuit, Miller made a return before the cameras in a celebrated 1970 TV soup commercial, produced and directed by Stan Freberg and choreographed by Hermes Pan in the all-stops-out manner of a Busby Berkeley spectacular. During that same period, Miller played to SRO crowds in the touring company of Mame. In the mid-'70s, she enjoyed a personal triumph when she co-starred with Mickey Rooney in the Broadway musical Sugar Babies. Ann Miller is the author of two autobiographies, 1974's Miller's High Life (which details her three marriages in an engagingly cheeky fashion) and 1990's Tapping the Force (which dwelt upon her fascination with the Occult).
by Hal Erickson biography