Anne Lloyd Francis (September 16, 1930 – January 2, 2011) was an American actress. Francis was best known for her role in the science fiction film classic Forbidden Planet (1956) and for having starred in the television series Honey West (1965–1966) which was the first TV series with a female detective character's name in the title. She won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the series.
Anne Lloyd Francis was born in Ossining, New York, on September 16, 1930, the only child of Philip and Edith Francis. Anne entered show business at a young age, working as a model at age five to help her family during the Great Depression; she made her Broadway debut at the age of eleven. She went on to appear in scores of television series and movies during her long career.
Francis made her film debut in This Time for Keeps (1947) and in her early career played supporting roles in the films Susan Slept Here, So Young, So Bad, and Bad Day at Black Rock; her first leading role was in Blackboard Jungle (1955). She is perhaps best known on film for her role as Altaira in the MGM science fiction classic Forbidden Planet (1956).
Her signature trademarks were her blonde hair, smouldering good-looks, and a small beauty mark just to the right of her lower lip.
Francis found success in television and was a frequent guest star in 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s made-for-TV movies and series programs.
She guest starred twice on The Untouchables as a gangster's girlfriend and appeared twice in The Twilight Zone, including the title character in "Jess-Belle" and as Marsha White in "The After Hours". Francis appeared in two episodes of the western series The Virginian and in the episode "Incident of the Shambling Man" on the CBS western, Rawhide. She was cast in an episode of Gene Kelly's ABC drama series, Going My Way, based on a 1944 film of the same name. During 1964, she guest starred in two episodes, "Hideout" and "Rachel's Mother", of the short-lived CBS drama, The Reporter, and two successive appearances the same year in NBC's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. series. In 1965, Francis was cast asHoney West, a sexy private detective with a pet ocelot; the character was initially introduced on the ABC series, Burke's Law, and then spun-off as a series. Francis made a guest appearance along with Charles Bronson in a 1967 episode of The Fugitive opposite David Janssen.
Studio publicity photo from the 1950s.
In 1968, she played the role of Georgia James in the feature film Funny Girl and one year later played Nancy Ingersoll, the wife of Jerry Lewis' character in the comedy Hook, Line and Sinker. She also co-starred in Impasse, an adventure film starring Burt Reynolds.
At the start of the final season in 1971 of CBS's My Three Sons, Francis played bowling alley waitress Terri Dowling, who marries character Laird Fergus McBain Douglas of Sithian Bridge, Scotland, and returned to his homeland as royalty. (Fred MacMurray played the dual character roles of Steve Douglas and Fergus McBain Douglas in this four-part story arc). She was also a murder victim in the Columbo episode "A Stitch in Crime", with guest star Leonard Nimoy. In 1977, she appeared as Lt. Cmdr. Gladys Hope, the head nurse in two episodes of Robert Conrad's World War II series Baa Baa Black Sheep.
During the 1980–1981 season of CBS's Dallas, Francis had a recurring role as Arliss Cooper, the mother of Mitch and Afton Cooper. She later played "Mama Jo" in the first few episodes of the 1984 TV-detective series Riptide. She also appeared in Matlock, and in The Golden Girls as Trudy McMann, Dorothy's friend from high school.
In 1989 and 1990, she guest-starred in several episodes of Angela Lansbury's Murder, She Wrote, using her full name of Anne Lloyd Francis in the show's credits. She guest starred in 1998 as Kate Walsh's mom in a two-part episode of The Drew Carey Show.
Francis' final television acting role came in a 2004 episode of the CBS series, Without a Trace.
Francis was married to Bamlet Lawrence Price, Jr., from May 1952 through April 1955 and to Robert Abeloff from 1960 through 1964; she never remarried after divorcing Abeloff. She and Abeloff had one daughter together, Jane Elizabeth Abeloff (Uemura), born on March 21, 1962, in Los Angeles; Francis later adopted Margaret "Maggie" West in 1970, one of the first adoptions granted to an unmarried person in California.
In 1982, Francis published an autobiography, Voices from Home, subtitled An Inner Journey. On its back cover, she wrote that the book "is my spiritual expose. It is about our essence of being, the inner workings of mind and spirit which contribute to the growth of the invisible and most important part of us."
In 2005, TV Guide ranked Francis # 18 on its "50 Sexiest Stars of All Time" list.
Anne Francis was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007; she kept her followers informed of her progress on her official website. She died on January 2, 2011, from complications due topancreatic cancer at a retirement home in Santa Barbara, California, a little more than a month after the death of her Forbidden Planet co-star Leslie Nielsen. She was survived by her two daughters and one grandchild.