Monday, 26 November 2012

The Inspiration - Ann Miller

I love Ann Miller. I don’t think she’s a very famous Hollywood actress, but once you've seen her on the screen she is unforgettable, and in my personal opinion she steals every movie she appears in. 

Ann Miller was born on April 12, 1923. She was originally named Johnnie Lucille Collier, since her dad had expected her to be a boy. She changed her name to Ann Miller because she was often called Annie as a child. Miller is best remembered for her roles in Hollywood musical films from the 1940s and 50s.


Ann Miller was the daughter of Clara Emma (nee Birdwell) and John Alfred Collier, a criminal lawyer who represented such infamous gangsters as Baby Face Nelson and Bonnie and Clyde.


Miller took up dancing to exercise her legs and thereby help her rickets. She soon became considered a child dance prodigy.


At the tender age of 13, Miller was hired as a dancer at the "Black Cat Club" in San Francisco, after lying about her age and telling them she was 18. How you can get a 13-year-old confused with an 18-year-old I’m not quite sure. It was at this club that Miller was discovered by Lucille Ball and talent scout/comic Benny Rubin, which led to her contract with RKO (she again told them she was 18 instead of 13). The next year Miller signed with Columbia Pictures and starred in 11 B-movie musicals from 1941 to 1945.


The 1948 movie Easter Parade was the ticket to Ann Miller’s fame, followed by On the Town (1949) and Kiss Me Kate (1953).

When dancing with Fred Astaire, Miller had to wear ballet shoes because she was so tall.

Miller popularised pantyhose in the 1940s (having been wearing it from 1938 onwards) as a solution to the continual problem of tearing stockings during the filming of dance production numbers. The common practice had been to sew hosiery to briefs. If torn, the entire garment had to be removed and resewn with a new pair. At Miller's request, hosiery was manufactured for her as a single pantyhose.


Miller was famed for her speed in tap dancing. Studio publicists concocted press releases claiming she could tap 500 times per minute, but in truth the sound of ultra-fast "500" taps was looped in later. Because the stage floors were slick and slippery, she actually danced in shoes with rubber soles. Later she would loop the sound of the taps while watching the film and actually dancing on a "tap board" to match her steps in the film.
 Miller’s legs were insured by RKO for $1,000,000. 

 For the majority of her career Miller refused to do movies with nudity or sex scenes.


She claimed her difficulty at maintaining relationships with men was due to her being an Egyptian queen in a past life and executing any men who displeased her.

Miller was known, especially later in her career, for her distinctive appearance, which reflected a studio-era ideal of glamour: massive black bouffant hair, heavy makeup with a slash of crimson lipstick, and fashions that emphasised her lithe figure and long dancer's legs.

 Her film career effectively ended in 1956 as the studio system lost steam to television, but she remained active in the theatre and on television. She starred on Broadway in the musical Mame in 1969, in which she wowed the audience with a tap number created just for her.


Miller died aged 80 from lung cancer.

“At MGM, I always played the second feminine lead; I was never the star in films, I was the brassy, good-hearted showgirl. I never really had my big moment on the screen.”

“I never played politics, I was never a party girl, and I never slept with any of the producers.”

"Honestly, I have had to live like a high priestess in this show. It is a very, very lonely life. When you work the way I work - that means hard - there's no time for play."

 Love this photo :)

Until next time

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