June Storey

Active - 1934 - 1949  |   Born - Apr 20, 1918   |   Died - Dec 18, 1991   |   Genres - Drama, Western, Crime, Musical, Romance

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Blonde, dimpled, and vivacious, June Storey became the perfect leading lady for cowboy troubadour Gene Autry, opposite whom she starred in no less than ten singing Westerns. In the U.S. since the age of five, the Canadian-born starlet was awarded a screen test with Fox (soon to become 20th Century Fox) in 1934, courtesy of an uncle's friendship with production head Winfield Sheehan. Despite a highly inadequate performance, Sheehan liked her pluck and Storey was awarded a player's contract. She didn't do much actual screen work, however, but spent most of her time at Fox studying acting with Florence Enright and taking dancing lessons from Rita Hayworth's father, Eduardo Cansino. A small role as a German girl in Henry King's In Old Chicago (1938) got the attention of low-budget concern Republic Pictures, who saw in the winsome Storey the perfect foil for Gene Autry, the company's biggest draw at the time.

Under term contract with Republic from April 21, 1939, through October 20, 1940, Storey managed to squeeze in ten Westerns with Autry and five additional films before the contract was terminated by mutual agreement. In many ways she was the perfect leading lady for Autry: very agreeable to look upon, competent as a performer by then, and willing to work long, hard hours on location. Often there was not even a dressing room available for the heroine; she later stated, "...and I'd have to find a secluded canyon to change into my cowgirl clothes." The films themselves -- from Home on the Range (1939) to Ride, Tenderfoot, Ride (1940) -- included some of Autry's most genial, and Storey became very popular with the genre's target audience of rural moviegoers. But like most performers, she eventually found B-Westerns too limiting, and apart from Columbia's Song of the Prairie (1945), she never did another.

Returning to Fox in the late '40s, Storey appeared in non-Western programmers and retired to marry an Oregon rancher. Divorced and the survivor of a near-fatal car accident, she later took up nursing, re-married, and became active in charity work. In her final years, a much heavier but still sparkling June Storey became a treasured guest speaker at various nostalgia and B-Western fairs.

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