Ann Miller (1923 - 2004)



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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

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Ann Miller was also known as:

Johnnie Lucille Collier



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


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

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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.

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Ann Miller, Tap-Dancer Starring in Musicals, Dies

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.''


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