Sheree North (1932 - 2005)



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Sheree North
Born Dawn Shirley Crang
January 17, 1932
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died November 4, 2005 (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names Dawn Shirley Bethel
Sherree Bessire Shirley Mae Bessire
Occupation Actress, singer, dancer
Years active 1951–1998
Spouse(s) Fred Bessire
(m. 1948; div. 1953)
John "Bud" Freeman
(m. 1955; div. 1956)
Dr. Gerhardt Sommer
(m. 1958; div. 1963)
Phillip Alan Norman (m. 2003)
Children 2
Sheree North (born Dawn Shirley Crang; January 17, 1932 – November 4, 2005) was an American actress, dancer and singer, known for being one of 20th Century-Fox's intended successors to Marilyn Monroe.
North was born as Dawn Shirley Crang[1] in Los Angeles, California, on January 17, 1932, the daughter of June Shoard and Richard Crang. Following her mother's remarriage to Edward Bethel, she was known as Dawn Shirley Bethel.[2]
She began dancing in USO shows during World War II at age ten. In 1948, she married Fred Bessire. She bore her first child at age 17 in 1949, and continued dancing in clubs under the stage name Shirley Mae Bessire.
North made her film début as an un-credited extra in Excuse My Dust (1951). She was then spotted by a choreographer performing at the Macayo Club in Santa Monica, and was cast as a chorus girl in the film Here Come the Girls (1953), starring Bob Hope. Around that time, she adopted the stage name Sheree North. She made her Broadway début in the musical Hazel Flagg, for which she won a Theatre World Award.[3] She reprised her role in the film version, Living It Up (1954), starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. In early 1954, at age 22, she appeared in a live TV version of Cole Porter's Anything Goes on The Colgate Comedy Hour, with Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and Bert Lahr.
20th Century-Fox
In 1954, North signed a four-year contract with 20th Century-Fox. The studio had big plans for her, hoping to groom her as a replacement for the studio's leading, and increasingly uncontrollable, female star, Marilyn Monroe. Fox tested North for leading roles in two of their upcoming productions, The Girl in Pink Tights and There's No Business Like Show Business—two films that had been offered to Monroe—while North was wearing Monroe's own studio wardrobe. However, after her screen tests, North was not cast in either film. In March 1954, North had a brush with scandal when it was revealed that she had earlier danced in a bikini in an 8 mm erotic film. Fox capitalized on the publicity as the studio previously had with Monroe's nude calendar posing in 1952.
In 1955, she was assigned the lead role opposite Betty Grable in How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955), a role that Marilyn Monroe had refused to accept. Media attention surrounding Monroe's suspension and North's hiring resulted in North appearing on the cover of Life magazine with the cover line "Sheree North Takes Over From Marilyn Monroe". How to Be Very, Very Popular would eventually not live up to the hype Fox had generated, even though North had appeared on What's My Line? to publicize the film and had been asked point-blank by one of the panelists if she has been associated with Monroe. The movie received mixed reviews from critics and was a moderate box office success. Despite this, film historians, then and now, cite North's electrically-charged dancing to "Shake, Rattle and Roll", as the film's most memorable scene.[8]
In an attempt to promote North, Fox studio executives lobbied to cast her in films surrounded with popular stars. The studio had campaigned to cast her in a film with comedian Tom Ewell, hoping to repeat the success he had with Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955). Soon thereafter, the studio assigned North and Ewell to appear together in the romantic comedy The Lieutenant Wore Skirts, plotting the story of an army lieutenant whose husband tries to get her discharged. To promote the film, North posed for several publicity shots showing her legs. When the majority of the shots were released, only her legs appeared with the tagline, "Believe it or not, these legs belong to an army lieutenant". The film premiered with much fanfare in January 1956, and became a box office success, grossing over $4 million in the United States.
North's follow-up was The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956), a lavish musical in which her singing voice was dubbed by Eileen Wilson. She received fourth billing under Gordon MacRae, Dan Dailey and Ernest Borgnine. It was an attempt by the studio to broaden North's audience appeal, and while it earned favorable reviews from critics, it did not become the success Fox had hoped for. In 1956, Fox signed another blonde bombshell, Broadway actress Jayne Mansfield to a contract, and began promoting her instead of North. Although Fox slowly lost interest in North, the studio continued to offer her a string of films. She was offered the leading role in a film called The Girl Upstairs, in which she would have parodied Monroe's on-screen persona.
When North's agent suggested she decline the film, Fox put her on suspension for two months. When her suspension was lifted one month later, North agreed to appear in The Way to the Gold only on the assurance that Elvis Presley would be her co-star. When Presley withdrew due to salary disagreements, he was replaced with Jeffrey Hunter, with whom North often quarreled. In the film, North attempted to progress from her blonde bombshell image, playing a sarcastic waitress, and while the film drew mixed reviews, it was a box office success.
She next starred in No Down Payment (1957), a melodrama about the lives of multiple families living in a California subdivision. Tony Randall played her alcoholic husband in the film. Although critically acclaimed, it was not a box office success. The following year, she appeared in her final two films for Fox. In Love and War (1958) was a war drama film pairing her again with Jeffrey Hunter, and also with Robert Wagner, Dana Wynter, and Hope Lange. It was not a critical or financial success. Although the musical film genre had declined in profitability, she next co-starred in Mardi Gras (1958) with Pat Boone and Tommy Sands. It was her final film under her contract.
After North's contract with Fox ended in 1958, her career stalled. She continued to act in films, television, and on the stage throughout the rest of her life, but she failed to again obtain the recognition she had with Fox in the 1950s. She guest starred on episodes of The Untouchables and Gunsmoke (both 1963). North joined the cast of I Can Get It for You Wholesale in 1962, which featured Elliott Gould and introduced Barbra Streisand. She later guest starred on a series of popular television series, including Ben Casey and Burke's Law (1963–65), The Virginian (1964–66), The Big Valley, The Iron Horse (both 1966), and The Fugitive (1965–67).
After an eight-year absence from film acting, North accepted a lead role in the B movie science fiction film Destination Inner Space (1966). The film opened to only a minor release in 1966, and has rarely been seen since. North co-starred with Elvis Presley in one of his final films, The Trouble with Girls (1969).
Ed Asner as Lou Grant and Sheree North as Charlene Maguire, his new girlfriend, in a fifth-season episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Other notable performances were in Don Siegel's Charley Varrick (1973) and another crime film, The Outfit (also 1973). She appeared briefly as John Wayne's long-lost love in the actor's final film, The Shootist (1976). She had supporting roles in two Charles Bronson movies, Breakout in 1975, and Telefon in 1977. In 1980, she played Marilyn Monroe's mother in the made-for-television film Marilyn: The Untold Story.[4]
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, North appeared in guest spots on Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan & Wife, Matlock, Family and Magnum, P.I.. She played Lou Grant's girlfriend on several episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She co-starred with Sheldon Leonard in the short-lived CBS sitcom, Big Eddie in 1975. During the 1980–81 season, North starred on I'm a Big Girl Now with Diana Canova, Danny Thomas and Martin Short. The series aired 19 episodes.[9] In 1983, she appeared in the ensemble cast of the Steven Bochco series Bay City Blues. The hour-long drama series aired eight episodes.[10] North later appeared on two episodes of The Golden Girls as Blanche Devereaux's sister, Virginia. In the 1990s, she appeared as Cosmo Kramer's mother, Babs Kramer, in two episodes of the sitcom Seinfeld. North's last onscreen role came in John Landis' black comedy Susan's Plan (1998).[4]
Personal life
North was married four times and had two children. In 1948, at age 16, she married Fred Bessire, a draftsman, with whom she had a daughter, Dawn (born 1949). The marriage ended in 1953. In 1955, she married television writer Bud Freeman, and the marriage ended a year later. Her third marriage was to psychologist Gerhardt Sommer, with whom she had another daughter, Erica Eve, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1963. At the time of her death, North was married to her fourth husband, Phillip Norman.
On November 4, 2005, North died during cancer surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was 73 years old.
Hazel Flagg (February 11, 1953 – September 19, 1953)
I Can Get It for You Wholesale (March 22, 1962 – December 8, 1962)
The Glass Menagerie (Laguna-Moulton Playhouse – January 3, 2000)

Sheree North Biography & Family History

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Last Known Residence

Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles County, California

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When she appeared on the initial episode of "The Bing Crosby Show" on television that same year, former Times television critic Walter Ames noted: "One of the surprises of the show was Sheree North, the shapely dancer. No one had given me an inkling that she could deliver comedy lines as well as she did, but she more than held her own with Bing and Jack Benny. Sheree came pretty close to walking off with the show."
After that, her film credits quickly rose to leading lady status, as in the 1956 musical film "The Best Things in Life Are Free" opposite Gordon MacRae and Dan Dailey.
North appeared on stage in such popular musicals as "Can-Can," "Irma La Douce" and "Bye Bye Birdie," and in such plays as "Private Lives," "The Madwoman of Chaillot" and "6 Rms Riv Vue." She also directed and produced several shows in small theaters, and in 2000 portrayed the Southern belle Amanda in a production of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" at the Laguna Playhouse.

Excuse My Dust (1951) as Six Girl Club Member (uncredited)
Here Come the Girls (1953) as Chorine with Elephant (uncredited)
Living It Up (1954) as Jitterbug Dancer
The Girl in Pink Tights (1954) (uncompleted)
How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955) as Curly Flagg
The Lieutenant Wore Skirts (1956) as Lt. Katy Whitcomb
The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956) as Kitty Kane
The Way to the Gold (1957) as Henrietta 'Hank' Clifford - waitress
No Down Payment (1957) as Isabelle Flagg
In Love and War (1958) as Lorraine
Mardi Gras (1958) as Eadie West
Destination Inner Space (1966) as Dr. Rene Peron
Madigan (1968) as Jonesy
The Gypsy Moths (1969) as Nita Bix
The Trouble with Girls (1969) as Waitress
Lawman (1971) as Laura Shelby
The Organization (1971) as Mrs. Morgan
Charley Varrick (1973) as Jewell Everett
The Outfit (1973) as Buck's Wife
Breakout (1975) as Myrna
The Shootist (1976) as Serepta
Survival (1976) as Sheree
Telefon (1977) as Marie Wills
Rabbit Test (1978) as Mystery Lady
Only Once in a Lifetime (1979) as Sally
Maniac Cop (1988) as Sally Noland
Cold Dog Soup (1990) as Mrs. Hughes
Defenseless (1991) as Mrs. Bodeck
Susan's Plan (1998) as Mrs. Beyers (final film role)


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1932 - In the year that Sheree North was born, five years to the day after Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart flew solo from Newfoundland to Ireland, the first woman to cross the Atlantic solo and the first to replicate Lindbergh's feat. She flew over 2,000 miles in just under 15 hours.

1974 - Sheree was 42 years old when on February 5th, Patty Hearst, age 19 - granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst and daughter of publisher of the San Francisco Examiner Randolph Hearst - was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a left wing terrorist group. She was found, alive, 19 months later.

1987 - She was 55 years old when on October 19th, stock exchanges around the world crashed. Beginning in Hong Kong then spreading to Europe, the crash then hit the United States. It was called Black Monday. The Dow Jones fell 508 points to 1,738.74 (22.61%).

1995 - By the time she was 63 years old, on September 3rd, eBay was founded in San Jose California. Beginning as simply a place for Pierre Omidyar's girlfriend (now wife) to share her Pez passion and collection online, the site has become a multibillion-dollar business and operates in 30 countries.

1999 - Sheree was 67 years old when the fear that Y2K (year 2000) would cause the failure of computers worldwide when clocks didn't properly update to January 1st, 2000 became near panic. While some computer systems and software did have problems, the panic was unfounded and computer life went on.

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The Bing Crosby Show (CBS, January 3, 1954) as Herself
The Colgate Comedy Hour (one episode, 1954) as Bonnie
Shower of Stars (one episode, 1954)
What's My Line? (one episode, 1955) as Herself
Playhouse 90 (one episode, 1957) as Suzy
The Witness (one episode, 1961) as Blossom Knight
The Untouchables (one episode, 1963) as Claire Simmons
Gunsmoke (one episode, 1963) as Avis Fisher
The Eleventh Hour (one episode, 1963) as Peggy Lewis
Breaking Point (two episodes, 1963) as Susan Beaumont / Lisa Adams
The Great Adventure (one episode, 1964) as Agnes Lake
Ben Casey (two episodes, 1963–1964) as Gloria Cooper / Lisa Adams
The Greatest Show on Earth (one episode, 1964) as Gloria
Burke's Law (three episodes, 1963–1965) as Cleo Delaney / The Maharani of Kooshipoo / Myrtle 'Gigi' String
The Loner (one episode, 1965) as Cora Rice
The Virginian (two episodes, 1964–1966) as Della Saunders / Karen Anders
Run for Your Life (one episode, 1966) as Jeannie Lake
The Big Valley (one episode, 1966) as Libby Mathews
The Iron Horse (one episode, 1966) as Alix Henderson
Code Name: Heraclitus (1967, TV Movie) as Sally
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (three episodes, 1965–1967) as Sally / Mary
The Fugitive (two episodes, 1965–1967) as Willy / Marianne Adams
Mannix (one episode, 1968) as Rose Anderson
Here Come the Brides (one episode, 1968) as Felicia
Then Came Bronson (one episode, 1969) as Gloria Oresko
My Friend Tony (one episode, 1969) as Vivian
The Name of the Game (one episode, 1970) as Mrs. Palmer
The Most Deadly Game (one episode, 1970) as Lottie
The Interns (one episode, 1971) as Beth Calico
Vanished (1971, TV Movie) as Beverly West
The Smith Family (one episode, 1971) as Sheree
Alias Smith and Jones (one episode, 1972) as Bess Tapscott
Rolling Man (1972, TV Movie) as Ruby
Cannon (one episode, 1972) as Millie Carroll
Jigsaw (one episode, 1972)
Trouble Comes to Town (1973, TV Movie) as Mrs. Murdock
McMillan & Wife (one episode, 1973) as Dr. Marion Voight
Snatched (1973, TV Movie) as Kim Sutter
Kung Fu (one episode, 1973) as Noreen Gallagher
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law (one episode, 1973) as Evelyn Knight
Hawkins (one episode, 1973) as Debbie Lane
The Streets of San Francisco (one episode, 1973) as Donna Coughlin
Maneater (1973, TV Movie) as Gloria Baron
Key West (1973, TV Movie) as Brandi
Hec Ramsey (one episode, 1974) as Esther Helpinstall
Winter Kill (1974, TV Movie) as Betty
Kojak (two episodes, 1974) as Mrs. Giancana
Hawaii Five-O (one episode, 1974) as Doris Brown
Barnaby Jones (one episode, 1974) as Roxy Morgan
Wide World Mystery (one episode, 1974) as Mrs. Janet Swimmer
The Whirlwind (1974, TV Movie)
Movin' On (two episodes, 1974) as Dinah
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (two episodes, 1974–1975) as Charlene Maguire
A Shadow in the Streets (1975, TV Movie) as Gina Pulaski
Medical Center (three episodes, 1971–1975) as Karen Porter / Sylvia Ronston
Big Eddie (1975) as Honey Smith
Marcus Welby, M.D. (one episode, 1976) as June Monica
Most Wanted (1976) as Melissa Dawson
Family (one episode, 1976) as Constance Hume
Baretta (one episode, 1977) as Amy
Future Cop (one episode, 1977) as Claire Hammond
Westside Medical (two episodes, 1977) as Laurie
Hallmark Hall of Fame (one episode, 1977) as Adele Serkin
The Night They Took Miss Beautiful (1977, TV Movie) as Layla Burden
Fantasy Island (one episode, 1978) as Julie
A Real American Hero (1978, TV Movie) as Carrie Todd
Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill (1979, TV Movie) as Lettie Norman
Women in White (1979, TV Movie) as Lisa Gordon
Portrait of a Stripper aka The Secret Life of Susie Hanson (1979, TV Movie) as Sally Evers
Archie Bunker's Place (two episodes, 1979) as Dotty Wertz
A Christmas for Boomer (1979, TV Movie) as Dorothy
Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980, TV Movie) as Gladys Baker
I'm a Big Girl Now (1980, cast member) as Edie McKendrick
Legs (1983, TV Movie) as Ida
Bay City Blues (four episodes, 1983) as Lynn Holtz
Magnum, P.I. (one episode, 1984) as Blanche Rafferty
Scorned and Swindled (1984, TV Movie) as Maxine Wagner
Trapper John, M.D. (one episode, 1985) as Tilly Whiteside
ABC Afterschool Special (one episode, 1986) as Madelyn
Matlock (two episodes, 1986) as Alice Jenkins
Murder, She Wrote (one episode, 1987) as Norma Lewis
Jake Spanner, Private Eye (1989, TV Movie) as Mrs. Bernstein
Freddy's Nightmares (one episode, 1989) as Joyce Burton
Hunter (one episode, 1989) as Dorothy Nickens
The Golden Girls (two episodes, 1985–1989) as Virginia Hollingsworth
Dead on the Money (1991, TV Movie)
Seinfeld (two episodes, 1995–1998) as Babs
Awards and honors
Theatre World Award

Won: For performance in Hazel Flagg (1953)
Emmy Award

Nominated: Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series, Marcus Welby, M.D. episode "How Do You Know What Hurts Me?" (1976)
Nominated: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Archie Bunker's Place (1980)


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