- Apr 12, 1923
- Houston, Texas, USA
Bio: Born Johnnie Lucille Collier in Texas in 1923, she lived there until she was nine, when mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to 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 clubs while being… More
Bio: Born Johnnie Lucille Collier in Texas in 1923, she lived there until she was nine, when mother left her philandering father and moved with Ann to 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 clubs 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 WW 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-'50s 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 TV, in night clubs and on the stage. She was a smash as the last actress to headline the Braodway production of "Mame" in 1969 and 1970, and an even bigger smash in "Suger Babies" in 1979, which she played for nine years, on Broadway and on tour. She has cut back in recent years, but did appear in the Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, NJ) 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.
Made something of a comeback in the early 1970s singing and dancing in the Busby Berkeley-inspired TV ads for Heinz's "Great American Soups." The song she sang was written by humorist Stan Freberg and choreographed by Danny Daniels.
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 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 in Chireno, Texas, on April 12, 1919.
Famous for her big hair in the later years of her career.
Father was a well-known criminal defense lawyer who defended such infamous gangsters as Baby Face Nelson and Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow of "Bonnie and Clyde" fame.
Discovered by Lucille Ball while doing a show in a San Francisco night club.
Miscarried her baby when she fell down a flight of stairs after a fight with husband Reese Milner..
Devoutly spiritual, she dabbles in psychic phenomena and astrology. She believes she was once Queen Hathshepsut of Egypt.
Refusing to do movies for years because disliked nudity and sex, she finally relented and returned to films after nearly four decades with David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. (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.
Measurements: 35-22-34 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine).
Although some sources list her year of birth as 1919, the U.S. census taken on April 1, 1930, several years before she entered show business, gives her age as 7 years. (Harris County, Texas, enumeration district 71, p. 2A, family 86.)
She was named "Johnnie" by her father, who was expecting a boy.
Claimed her difficulty maintaining relationships with men was due to her being an Egyptian queen in a past life and executing any men who displeased her.
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.
Began dance classes in order to strengthen her legs after suffering from rickets.
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.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1980 Tony Award as Best Actress (Musical) for "Sugar Babies."
In Call Her Mom (1972) (TV), she was replaced by Gloria DeHaven after she, herself, had replaced Cyd Charisse.
Her favorite role was Bianca/Lois Lane in Kiss Me Kate (1953).
Date of Death: 22 January 2004, Los Angeles, California, USA. (lung cancer)
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