For those of you who have stayed with us at Chelsea Pines Inn, you know that this is a special place for everyone who loves old movies. From the great Hollywood stars of the past (Paul Newman, Rock Hudson) to those that are lesser known (George Nader, Sheree North), each room is dedicated to a film actor or actress, featuring original posters and memorabilia from their films. Perhaps one of those lesser-known stars was Anne Francis, who died at age 80 this past week after a long illness. Very much a product of the Hollywood studio system, Ms. Francis entered the pantheon of fame by starring in the now-legendary 1956 scifi film, “Forbidden Planet.” This was a clever reimagining of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” which featured Ms. Francis, in a very short tunic that revealed her physical charms if not her acting talents, as the imperiled daughter of Walter Pidgeon on a faraway planet, where she is protected by Robby the Robot, a very popular space toy of its day.
Ms. Francis, a beautiful blonde with a striking facial “beauty mark,” will also be remembered as the first female private detective to head her own program in the short-lived “Honey West,” where she garnered both a Golden Globe award and an Enmy nomination in the 1965-66 season. And many “Twilight Zone” fans will recall her striking performance as a department store mannequin during that show’s first brilliant season. In all, Ms. Francis appeared in over 150 feature films, TV films and series, and was always a pleasure to watch and listen to. Her career stretched from the 1941 Broadway show, “Lady in the Dark,” where she played the Gertrude Lawrence role as a child, through 2004 and a guest shot on “Without a Trace.” Other highlights of her career included roles in “Bad Day at Black Rock” and “Funny Girl.”
Although Anne never visited Chelsea Pines, she was thrilled to learn that a room had been dedicated to her, and sent us several lovely autographed photos, thanking us for remembering her. We framed them, put them up in her room, and sent her photos of them. Already ailing at the time, she nonetheless wrote back and thanked us for all our good thoughts and wishes. She was a terrific woman, a memorable actress, and will always be fondly remembered at Chelsea Pines, where Hollywood stars live on.