A professional magazine model at age four, American actress Anne Francis made some 3000 appearances on network radio before she was ten. She was under film contracts to both MGM and 20th Century-Fox as a teenager; in the days of publicity-agent pigeonholing, the actress was dubbed variously as "The Fragile Blonde with the Mona Lisa Smile" and "The Palomino Blonde," labels that she intensely despised. Usually cast in sullen bad-girl or troublemaker roles, Francis suffered from a volcanic private life; throughout these years her one source of comfort was her pet dog Smidgeon, whom she'd named after Walter Pidgeon, her co-star in the science-fiction film classic Forbidden Planet (1956). In 1965, Francis found herself with a more contentious pet, an ocelot named Bruce Biteabit, when she starred in the TV adventure series Honey West, in which she played a glamorous private detective. The series was meant to cash in on the gimmicky James Bond movies of the time (Honey West was a judo expert, had exploding earrings, and a microphone hidden in a martini olive), and like many such imitations, the program was on and off in a single year. Francis' film and TV career continued unabated after that, though a potentially good role in the 1968 movie musical Funny Girl was mostly consigned to the cutting-room floor in order to intensify the spotlight on the film's star, Barbra Streisand. Active in guest star spots into the early '90s, Anne Francis--billing herself in recent years as Anne-Lloyd Francis--enjoyed a brief co-starring turn as Mama Jo on the 1984 action series Riptide.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Began working as a model at the age of 6 after an agent spotted her at Macy's.
- Performed on Broadway at 11 in the musical Lady in the Dark with Gertrude Lawrence.
- Acted on children's radio shows and later, on a number of radio soap operas.
- Appeared in the first color tests for CBS-TV.
- Starred in the 1965-66 TV series Honey West, the first detective show to feature a woman as the central character.
- In 1970, became one of the first single women to adopt a child in California.
- Wrote a memoir titled Voices from Home: An Inner Journey in 1982.