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New York Times
Anne Francis, TV and Film Actress, Dies at 80

Associated Press Tuesday, January 3, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anne Francis, who was best known for her roles in the 1950s science-fiction film “Forbidden Planet” and the 1960s television series “Honey West,” died on Sunday in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 80.

The cause was complications of pancreatic cancer, her daughter Jane Uemura told The Los Angeles Times. Ms. Francis had surgery and chemotherapy after she learned she had lung cancer in 2007.

Anne Francis

Anne Francis played Honey West, a sexy private detective.

Ms. Francis, with blond hair and a prominent beauty mark near one corner of her mouth, appeared in some of the most popular films of the 1950s. But “Forbidden Planet” and “Honey West” made her reputation.

In “Forbidden Planet” (1956), a science-fiction retelling of Shakespeare’s “Tempest,” a group of space travelers including Leslie Nielsen visited a planet where an expatriate scientist played by Walter Pidgeon, his daughter (Ms. Francis) and a robot named Robby had built a settlement.

Before filming began, the actors held a meeting and agreed “to be as serious about this film as we could be,” Ms. Francis said in a 1999 interview. “We could have hammed it up, but we wanted to be as sincere as we could.”

“Honey West” lasted only one season, 1965-66, on ABC. But the character she played, a private detective who was sexy, stylish and as good with martial arts as she was with a gun (and who had a pet ocelot), made an impression.

“A lot of people speak to me about Honey West,” Ms. Francis once recalled. “The character made young women think there was more they could reach for. It encouraged a lot of people.”

She was nominated for an Emmy and won a Golden Globe for the role.

Anne Francis was born Ann Marvak on Sept. 16, 1930, in Ossining, N.Y. She was working as a model by the time she was 5 and appearing on daytime radio serials by age 11. She also had some small roles on Broadway.

She began her movie career at MGM in 1947 and went on to act opposite some of the biggest male stars of the day.

In “Blackboard Jungle” (1955), she played the pregnant wife of an idealistic teacher (Glenn Ford). Among her other films were “Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955) with Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan, “A Lion Is in the Streets” (1953) with James Cagney, and “Hook, Line and Sinker” (1969) with Jerry Lewis.

When her movie career declined, Ms. Francis became active in television. She appeared in dozens of series, including “Mission: Impossible,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Golden Girls.”

Ms. Francis’s marriages to the actor and director Bamlet L. Price Jr. and Dr. Robert Abeloff ended in divorce. In addition to Ms. Uemura, she is survived by another daughter, Maggie, and a grandson.

A version of this article appeared in print on January 4, 2011, on page B15 of the New York edition.