Ann Miller (1923 - 2004)

ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM

Summary

Ann Miller’s biography is built and maintained by people like you. Create an online profile of Anne so that her life is remembered forever. If any factual information is incorrect, please edit Anne’s biography.

Ann Miller
Born April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas, USA
Died January 22, 2004 in Los Angeles, California, USA (lung cancer)
Birth Name Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier
Nickname Annie
Height 5' 7"
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas. She lived there until she was nine, when her mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to Los Angeles, California. Even at that young age, she had to support her mother, who was hearing-impaired and unable to hold a job. After taking tap-dancing lessons, she got jobs dancing in various Hollywood nightclubs while being home-schooled. Then, in 1937, RKO asked her to sign on as a contract player, but only if she could prove she was 18. Though she was really barely 14, she managed to get hold of a fake birth certificate, and so was signed on, playing dancers and ingénues in such films as Stage Door (1937), You Can't Take It with You (1938), Room Service (1938) and Too Many Girls (1940). In 1939, she appeared on Broadway in "George White's Scandals" and was a smash, staying on for two years. Eventually, RKO released her from her contract, but Columbia Pictures snapped her up to appear in such World War II morale boosters as True to the Army (1942) and Reveille with Beverly (1943). When she decided to get married, Columbia released her from her contract. The marriage was sadly unhappy and she was divorced in two years. This time, MGM picked her up, showcasing her in such films as Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949) and Kiss Me Kate (1953). In the mid-1950's, she asked to leave to marry again, and her request was granted. This marriage didn't last long, either, nor did a third. Ann then threw herself into work, appearing on television, in nightclubs and on the stage. She was a smash as the last actress to headline the Broadway production of "Mame" in 1969 and 1970, and an even bigger smash in "Sugar Babies" in 1979, which she played for nine years, on Broadway and on tour. She also appeared in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Stephen Sondheim's "Follies" in 1998, in which she sang the song "I'm Still Here", a perfect way to sum up the life and career of Ann Miller. On January 22, 2004, Ann Miller died at age 80 of lung cancer and was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetary in Culver City, California.
Spouse (3)
Arthur Cameron (25 May 1961 - 10 May 1962) ( annulled)
William Moss (22 August 1958 - 11 May 1961) ( divorced)
Reese Llewellyn Milner (16 February 1946 - 28 January 1948) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
She made herself four years older, when she began working in Hollywood. She became an excellent tap dancer after her mother told her while watching Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) starring Eleanor Powell if she would practice a little with that same quality.
When she was in her early teens, she was advised to pretend she was 18 in order to get a job in the movies. Her father wanted a boy, so Ann was named Johnnie Lucille Collier, and she later went by Lucille. In 1937, in order to keep her contract with RKO Pictures, she got a fake birth certificate, which said she was Lucille Ann Collier, born on April 12, 1919 in Chireno, Texas.
Famous for her big hair in the later years of her career.
Discovered by Lucille Ball while doing a show at a nightclub in San Francisco, California. Lucille Ball helped her career immensely.
Refusing to do movies for years because she disliked nudity and sex, she finally relented and returned to films after nearly four decades with David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001), which contained nudity and explicit sex.
At the end of her MGM contract, she flew overseas to Morocco to entertain on the Timex TV Hour for Bob Hope. She sang and danced "Too Darn Hot" in 120-degree heat, entertaining 5000 soldiers.
In her tap shoes, she claimed to be able to dance at 500 taps per minute. Her tap shoes were called Moe and Joe and were exhibited in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
On an interview on Turner Classic Movies, she told a story about how each time she needed to dress for a dance on screen, the tops of her stockings needed to be sewn to the costume she was wearing. This was a tedious process and needed to be repeated each time there was a run, etc. One day, she suggested to the man supplying the stockings that he add a top to the stockings so they could be worn as one piece... and that's how pantyhose was born.
Inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2004.
On her tax returns, she listed her occupation as "Star Lady".
She donated a pair of her gold colored tap shoes to the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian Institute.
Nominated for the 1980 Tony Award (New York City) for Best Actress in a Musical for "Sugar Babies".
During an interview with Robert Osborne for Turner Classic Movies, Ann Miller said that when she was 9 months pregnant with Reese Milner's child, he got drunk one night, beat Ann up and threw her down a flight of stairs. Ann broke her back and had to give birth with a broken back.
Had to audition for Easter Parade (1948) in a steel back brace after breaking her back.
Was very good friends with: Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, Kathryn Grayson, Marie MacDonald and Linda Cristal.
At just 15-years-old, she played the wife of Dub Taylor - who was 16 years her senior - in You Can't Take It with You (1938).
She was buried next to her miscarried daughter, which reads "Beloved Baby Daughter Mary Milner November 12, 1946".
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6914 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
She was awarded a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on January 10, 1998.
Personal Quotes
" I have worked like a dog all my life, honey. Dancing, as Fred Astaire said, is next to ditch-digging. You sweat and you slave and the audience doesn't think you have a brain in your head."
[Fred Astaire] was a perfectionist. At rehearsal when you thought you'd got it perfect he would say, "Go on, Annie, just one more time!" What I wouldn't give to do it just one more time.
At MGM, I always played the second feminine lead. I was never the star in films. I was the brassy, goodhearted showgirl. I never really had my big moment on the screen. Broadway gave me the stardom that my soul kind of yearned for.

Ann Miller Biography & Family History

This genealogy profile is dedicated to the life and ancestry of Ann Miller and her immediate Miller family. Add to Ann Miller's genealogy page to share your memories & historical research with her family and other genealogy hobbyists.

Ann Miller was also known as:

Johnnie Lucille Collier

Birth

Death

Cause of death

There is no cause of death listed for Anne.

Burial / Funeral

Long Island National CemeterySection 2S Site 3300,
Farmingdale, Ny

Obituary

Last Known Residence

Did Anne move a lot? Did she emigrate from another country? Add Anne's last known location.

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Family

Add family members

Education

Did Anne finish grade school, get a GED, go to high school, get a college degree or masters? What schools or universities did Anne attend? Add education.

Professions

Share what Anne did for a living or if she had a career or profession. Add Profession.

Organizations

Add organizations, groups and memberships.

Military Service

Branch of service: Us Army
Rank attained: PFC
Wars/Conflicts: World War Ii

Middle name

Unknown. Add middle name

Maiden name

Unknown. Add maiden name

Surnames

Ethnicity

Unknown. Add Anne's ethnicity.

Nationality

Unknown. Add Anne's nationality.

Religion

Unknown. Was Anne a religious woman? Add Anne’s religion

Gender

Female

Timeline

1923 - In the year that Ann Miller was born, on November 8th and 9th, Adolf Hitler and his followers (the early Nazi party) staged the "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich in an attempt to take over Bavaria (a state in Germany). They failed. Hitler was charged with treason and convicted, receiving a sentence of 5 years. He served under 1 year in jail.

1948 - When she was 25 years old, on May 14th, the State of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first Premier, and the U.S. officially recognized Israel. That evening, Egypt launched an air assault on Israel.

1958 - Anne was 35 years old when on January 1st, the European Economic Community (Common Market) came into operation. The first members were France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Common Market was formed as a way to strengthen members' economies and deter wars in Europe.

1972 - At the age of 49 years old, Anne was alive when on June 17th, 5 men were arrested by police in an attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington D.C.’s Watergate hotel. The burglars were found to be paid by cash from a slush fund used by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President - the official organization of President Nixon's campaign.

1996 - By the time she was 73 years old, on July 5th, the first cloned mammal - "Dolly the Sheep" - was born in Scotland. She had three mothers. Dolly lived to be 6 years old and produced 6 lambs. Since, other sheep have been cloned as well as horses, pigs, deer, and bulls.

Ann Miller Family Tree

Who was Anne’s parents? Did she get married and did they have children? Share Anne’s family tree to share her legacy and genealogy pedigree.

Anne's Family
Add a parent
Add a parent
Ann Miller
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a sibling

You can add or remove people from Anne's family tree by clicking here.

Obituary

This obit of Ann Miller is updated by the community. Edit this biography to contribute to her obituary. Include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

Ann Miller, Tap-Dancer Starring in Musicals, Dies
By RICHARD SEVERO JAN. 23, 2004

Ann Miller, the long-legged tap-dancer with the lacquered raven hair and Nefertiti eye makeup whose athleticism made her a staple of big-screen musicals in the 1940's and 50's, died on Thursday at a Los Angeles hospital. She was believed to be about 80.
The cause was lung cancer, Esme Chandlee, her friend and former publicist, told The Associated Press.
She was, in her heyday, America's female tap star, inheriting the mantle of Ginger Rogers and Eleanor Powell. She always took a vigorous approach to dancing, and her agent said she could produce 500 taps a minute. Nobody ever disputed him.
As a young actress, she consistently won praise for her roles in movies like ''Easter Parade'' (1948), in which she danced most gracefully with Fred Astaire as she tried to woo him away from Judy Garland; ''Kiss Me Kate'' (1953), in which she portrayed Lois Lane, the nightclub hoofer who became Bianca in Cole Porter's version of ''Taming of the Shrew''; and ''On the Town'' (1949), which paired her with Jules Munshin, the sidekick of Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, sailors desperately looking for girls on their 24-hour leave in New York. These, she said, were her favorite movies, and most fans and critics would agree.
She first attracted attention in 1938, when she played the fudge-making, ballet-dancing daughter in Frank Capra's ''You Can't Take It With You.'' And in 1979, after a long hiatus, she made a tremendous comeback, starring with Mickey Rooney in ''Sugar Babies,'' a musical salute to vaudeville that ran for nearly three years on Broadway. She enjoyed the stardom that she felt she had been denied earlier.
''At MGM I always played the second feminine lead,'' she told the writer Bob Thomas in 1990. ''I was never the star in films. I was the brassy, good-hearted showgirl. I never really had my big moment on the screen. 'Sugar Babies' gave me the stardom that my soul kind of yearned for.''
Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier was born in Chireno, Tex. Her father, John Alfred Collier, was a successful criminal lawyer who counted among his clients Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker and Baby Face Nelson. He dreamed of having a son he could call John Jr.; instead, he named his daughter Johnnie. Her mother was the former Clara Birdwell, whose mother was a Cherokee.
The Colliers soon moved to Houston, where her mother saw to it that she studied piano and violin but mostly dancing, partly to build up legs affected by rickets, a condition caused by a vitamin D deficiency that can lead to softening of the bones and deformity.
When Ms. Miller was about 10 her parents' marriage fell apart and her mother took her to California. There she developed a dance routine and performed at meetings of local civic organization. She earned $5 a night, plus tips.
A few years later she was seen by Benny Rubin, a comic and talent scout, who happened to be escorting Lucille Ball. They arranged a movie audition, which led to her first film, a nonspeaking part in ''New Faces of 1937'' for RKO.
Other light films followed, and while she aspired to the romantic roles that were being enjoyed by other dancing stars, like Ginger Rogers and Eleanor Powell, she was offered none.
In the 1940's she appeared in a string of forgettable films. Among them were ''Melody Ranch'' (1940), which is recalled now only because it was the first time Gene Autry kissed a woman for the cameras; ''Time Out for Rhythm'' (1941), a vehicle for Rudy Vallee; ''Priorities on Parade'' (1942), a feel-good movie for soldiers starring Jerry Colonna; ''Reveille With Beverly'' (1943); ''What's Buzzin' Cousin?'' (1943); ''Jam Session'' (1944) and ''Eadie Was a Lady'' (1945).
In 1946 she married a millionaire, Reese Llewellyn Milner. The marriage failed within a year, and she went back to work, winning a big part in perhaps her most memorable film, MGM's ''Easter Parade.'' She got the part only when Cyd Charisse, the first choice for the role, broke a leg, and she had to dance in flats because Fred Astaire was barely taller than she was.
In 1951 and 1952 she appeared in ''Two Tickets to Broadway'' and ''Lovely to Look At,'' a remake of Jerome Kern's ''Roberta.'' Later that decade she was in ''Deep in My Heart,'' a tribute to Sigmund Romberg; ''Hit the Deck,'' set to Vincent Youmans's music; and ''The Opposite Sex,'' a musical version of Clare Boothe Luce's play, ''The Women.''
By the late 50's she had moved from movies to nightclubs and also appeared frequently on television programs like ''The Ed Sullivan Show,'' ''The Hollywood Palace'' and ''Laugh-In.''
In 1969 she scored a Broadway triumph when she took on the title role of ''Mame,'' which had been originated by Angela Lansbury. The critics felt she rivaled Ms. Lansbury, and Clive Barnes said in The New York Times that she gave the show ''a real shot in the arm.''
Jobs were scarce after that, though in 1972 she made a memorable commercial for Heinz's ''Great American Soups'' commercial, in which she danced atop an eight-foot soup can.
She went on the road with touring companies of ''Can-Can,'' ''Panama Hattie,'' ''Hello, Dolly!'' and ''Blithe Spirit.'' Her biggest comeback of all came in 1979, with ''Sugar Babies.''
Two more marriages, to William Moss in 1958 and to Arthur Cameron in 1961, ended in divorce. In between marriages she dated Conrad Hilton, Howard Hughes and Louis B. Mayer, among others. There are no immediate survivors.
In her prime, Ms. Miller's flamboyantly glamorous appearance, especially her hair, which was often a bouffant, lacquered wig, sometimes made her the butt of jokes about falling down and breaking her hair.
In later years, she seemed to revel in making television appearances in her wig and Egyptian-style makeup. In her 1972 autobiography, ''Miller's High Life,'' and in other writings about her serious spiritual interests, she even laid claim to having been Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt in an earlier life.
But she said that throughout her life she wondered ''whatever happened to Lucille Collier from Texas.''
''There's a part of me that will always be Lucille Collier, and she's just waiting for this long-winded Hollywood love affair to end with the Ann Miller creature.''

Memories

What do you remember about Ann Miller? Share your memories of special moments and stories you have heard about her. Or just leave a comment to show the world that Anne is remembered.

Write a comment

Other Records of Ann Miller

ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM

Other Biographies

Sources

Success Stories from Biographies like Ann Miller

I have to tell you a VERY special story about how AncientFaces helped to reunite our family. For 13 years, I have been searching for my grandmother's missing sister. She just disappeared from the family in the 1930s without a trace. No one ever knew where or when she died or where she was buried. My years of searching have just run into dead ends, so I had given up. Today, out-of-the-blue, a young lady called me and said that she had seen a photograph on AncientFaces and one of the women in the photo was her grandmother! Little did I know that she had left a small child behind when she died so young of TB. You can imagine our shock and excitement at finding each other and a whole new family that we never knew existed. We only live one state away from each other and very soon plan to have all family members meet to share our sides of "the story" and of course, many, many more picturesl AncientFaces...... without you, this family may never have been complete and Aunt Grace would have been lost to us forever. I hope you realize what a valuable service you provide and how grateful we are to have found you. Thank you!!!! -Lynda B.
I never knew my biological family. My family is my mother and father who raised me. But, as I got older I got curious about my heritage. It took me years of investigation to finally discover my parents’ names. Well, I get goosebumps just writing this, I have found my biological family because of AncientFaces. Yes!! I did a search for my [parents' names] and was shocked to find a photo of them on AncientFaces! I cannot tell you the feeling that came over me when I saw this photo - to see the faces of my biological parents…JUST LIKE THAT. I left a comment on the photo and you won’t believe this - the owner of the photo is MY SISTER!!! Yes, I have a LITTLE sister! It turns out my parents were too young when they had me and had to give me up. My little sister knew I existed and wanted to find me but had no way of doing it. Thanks to you I am meeting my little sister for the first time next month. GOD BLESS YOU ANCIENTFACES. -Anonymous
We have found our missing relative entirely thanks to AncientFaces. We have received a much clearer photo of Captain Grant from his Son. The picture we on AncientFaces is an old yellowed newspaper photo. I am attaching the new photo and ask that you take the old one out and put the new clear picture in its place. With our Canadian Remembrance Day here in 2 days - the timing could not be better. Thank You, AncientFaces. My long lost Aunt is now 86 years old and her Son and I are talking by phone and e-mails. Captain Grant was his Father and died in France in 1944 and is buried there. By posting pictures of the visit to his gravesite - we connected through one of his brothers. Amazing that our prayers have been answered. Thank you -Beth B.
I came home for lunch yesterday and decided to look at my email before going back to work. The weekly newsletter that I subscribe to from the Logan Family History Center had this message in it about AncientFaces. I clicked on the link and the first search I did was for Woodruff, and Mamie was the first picture that came up. I could hardly stand it. I was late getting back to work. I had to add comments and write to you. Thank you for noticing her in the store and for the website. I can't help but wonder how many other family pictures may have ended up in that store and why. I also can't help but feel that it was meant to be and that there is a purpose that this picture is coming home as you say. What are the chances of this all just happening? It's amazing that you even picked it up at the store and then went to all the extra effort to post it. It makes me feel as though you have been my friend forever. It certainly has given me a connection to you, and I have a love for what you do. I just can't tell you how excited I am. I can't even hold it in. -Cathy K., Utah
I have previously submitted several pictures of my grandfather August Zemidat. I have tried for many years to find anyone with that name, and I have searched many genealogy web sites to no avail. Recently I was contacted by someone who saw my pictures on AncientFaces who may well be a cousin. She also provided me with information that seems to indicate her grandparents were my grandfather’s siblings. Considering the many years I have been searching for the name Zemidat, I find this is absolutely amazing that I have finally found a family member. Thank you AncientFaces -Ron D.
I love AncientFaces, a while back I saw that you had labeled Garcia surname pictures. At the time I didn’t have all my family facts for my research. Anyway, I wandered into your site just to check it out AND NOW 1 YEAR LATER I received a picture from an 87 year old aunt and guess what you had this very same picture on your site!! (They were my great aunts and my great-grandmother!). Thank you… -Angela M.
I have loved AncientFaces since I first found it, it's the first thing I check when I turn on the computer. There was a time when even in the most modest households there were three cherished possessions, a family Bible. a family album and a fancy lamp. It was usual for the family to gather in the parlour, generally on Sunday and talk, tell stories of family and friends with the photos in the albums as illustration. Sadly in our modern electronic age we have fallen away from the oral tradition and interest in history has waned. I was quite shocked on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic to see so many comments from younger people who were surprised to learn that the Titanic wasn't just a movie. This is why AncientFaces is so important, to me it's the electronic age version of the oral tradition on a global scale and the sheer volume of people who follow, comment and contribute seems to prove the point. We are all grateful to you all for providing us with this wonderful site. - Arba M.