Little Queen of the Soap Operas

Childhood nickname of actress Anne Francis, the blue-eyed, wavy-blonde star of the detective drama HONEY WEST/ABC/1965-66.

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Anne Francis became a child star on radio at the age of seven and by the time she was 14 she had been nicknamed “The Little Queen of the Soap Operas.”


” Why did you start working at such an early age? ” I asked. ” It’s simple,” said Anne. “We were living in a small town, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., when the depression hit my dad.- He lost his shirt and pants so we moved to New York. I was a blonde character, mostly tomboy, but two or three people suggested I might become a model And all of a sudden I was wearing pumps and pretty dresses and posing for fashion magazines.” Before she was 5, Anne was an established cover girl and had advertised everything from tooth paste to automobiles. She was starring on radio at 7 and became known as ” Little Queen of the Soap Operas.” – Chicago Tribune (10/10/1954)


Her cover girl face graced a series of short stories in Redbook Magazine (drawn by William Reuswig) and Mortimer Wilson later modeled his “Angel Face” character after her in the Saturday Evening Post.

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Young Miss Anne France on the cover of Radio Mirror (March, 1947)

During the late 1940’s Ms. Francis appeared as “The Bonny Maid“, one of the hosts of the children’s variety program THE VERSATILE VARIETY SHOW/NBC/CBS/ABC/1949-51.


“Her search for identity began as early as 1936. Working as a child model and cover girl in New York, Miss Francis’s most persistent trade-mark was the large mole located to the right of her lower lip. For a time in the 1940’s, while her mother dragged her to some 3000 radio appearances on shows like “Aunt Jenny,” “Big Town” and “When a Girl Marries,” she was known as “The Little Queen of the Soap Operas.”
 
Upon her arrival in Hollywood in 1946, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer press agents promptly rechristened the innocent-faced 16-year-old “The Fragile Blonde with the Mona Lisa Smile.” That artless analogy was discarded seven years later when another film company dubbed her “The Palomino Blonde,” because of the presumed resemblance of her flaxen hair to the mane of a palomino.” – TV Guide (10/09/1965)


At the age of twelve she made her Broadway debut in “Lady in the Dark”; then starred on the radio series WHEN A GIRL MARRIES; and later appeared in a number of films including Summer Holiday (1948), A Lion in the Streets (1953), Susan Slept Here(1954), Bad Day at Bad Rock (1955), Forbidden Planet (1956), Brainstorm (1965), Funny Girl (1968), and the miniseries Poor Little Rich Girl (1986).

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In the 1960s, Anne’s Honey West character debuted on TV on the BURKE’S LAW episode, “Who Killed the Jackpot?” (04/21/1965). Honey West was the first woman detective to appear as the central character on an American network television series.

Her character  inspired other female detective/spy programs such as THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E. (1966-67), GET CHRISTIE LOVE (1974-75) and POLICE WOMAN (1974-78). In her post-Honey West decades, Francis racked up credits in more than 100 films and TV shows.

Fans of the fantasy series THE TWILIGHT ZONE will remember Anne Francis for her role in the now classic episode “The After Hours” about a woman who discovered she was actually a department store mannequin.

Note: Born on September 16, 1930 in Ossining, New York, actress Anne Francis died on January 2, 2011 (age 80) from complications of pancreatic cancer in a retirement home in Santa Barbara, California.

Upon the death of Anne Francis, Time magazine commented, ” In one sense, she was a blend of Hollywood’s two most popular female types in the ’50s: the bombshell blonds Monroe and Mansfield — an adolescent’s notion of squeaky-voiced sexuality — and smart, slim vixens like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.”

Anne’s personal and spiritual trip through life is chronicled in her biography “Voices from Home: An Inner Journey” (1982).

See also Siren of the Soaps

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About

Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Showbiz Nicknames

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