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Senior World Magazine: Anne Francis

by James MacArthur



I had occasion to make the acquaintance of Anne Francis about a year ago. We at Senior World had been discussing doing a half-hour weekly TV program based on the success of Senior World and its excellent staff. How to make it successful? Many ingredients, of course, but one very essential component would be a lovely lady to co-host. That was when I found myself driving to Santa Barbara to meet Anne and discuss the project. Although we had never met, I knew her work and was an admirer.

Anne had started very young as a model, but got into the movies in the early fifties, being under contract to MGM and Twentieth Century Fox, at which time she made some really wonderful pictures such as Bad Day at Black Rock, Battle Cry, Blackboard Jungle, Forbidden Planet, Don’t Go Near the Water, and later the TV series Honey West, for which she won a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination.

At lunch she couldn’t have been nicer and we gossiped away for a good time. As to the program and possibly working together, let’s just say it’s still a possibility! Anyway, our next meeting was quite interesting. We were both invited to a relatively new phenomenon: a memorabilia and autograph show in Hollywood. I think these were inspired by the sports figures who seem to have figured out how to extract dollars better than Rockefeller ever did. We were joined by celebrities such as Don Adams, Don Knotts, and Ken Berry, just to mention a few. Of special interest to me were Carol Lynley and Tommy Kirk, as we had worked together almost 40 years ago. Of course, nobody has changed much!

Anne and I discussed how peculiar it felt to be selling something that we had gratefully given away since the beginning of our movie lives. We both agreed that since the market exists and there are dealers making a lot of money, there is no reason we should not participate. After all, we are the commodity!

When we got together for this interview, poring over old photos and reminiscing was a lot of fun and, although we had never worked together, we had many mutual actor friends we both worked with. One was Leslie Nielsen, here pictured with Anne in the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet from MGM. I had worked with Leslie in the early 80s when he was still playing deep-voiced heavies. Of course, he got his comeuppance at the end of the film The Night the Bridge Fell Down. Anne and I both had fond memories of Leslie, who could be amusing on the set and now, of course, everybody knows what an amusing fellow he is!

I asked what’s next for Anne, who just finished doing a Home Improvement show. She replied happily, “I’m off to Hawaii to perform the play Love Letters on the island of Kauai to raise money for the college there.” The veteran trooper keeps trooping. The best news, though, is that Anne has moved to the desert and lives only half a mile from us. The Coachella Valley’s show biz corps sends her a warm welcome!

[Webweaver's Note: While preparing this article for the website, it was brought to James MacArthur's attention that his statement of never having met or worked with Anne Francis was obviously incorrect since she guest starred in the Hawaii Five-O episode 'When Does a War End?'. His comment was, "Well, obviously, it must not have been one of our better episodes since both Anne and I appear to have completely blocked it from our memories!" It should be noted that the majority of Five-O fans would agree with that assessment.]

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