June Havoc (1913-2010)

Actress June Havoc, who was appearing in vaudeville as Baby June when she was two years old, has passed away at the age of 97. Born Ellen Evangeline Hovick in either 1912 or 1913, Havoc was the young sister of burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee (born Rose Louise Hovick in 1911; died in 1970). Their life growing up in the spotlight and their relationship with their mother, Rose, was chronicled in a 1957 memoir aptly titled Gypsy: A Memoir, which “inspired” a 1959 musical — with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim — that itself was turned into a book by Arthur Laurents. The original Broadway staging starred Ethel Merman. A 1962 film adaptation starred Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood.

Havoc made her Broadway debut in 1936 with a role in Forbidden Melody; her first film role came six years later in Four Jacks and a Jill, released in 1942. According to the Internet Movie Database her first television role was a 1950 episode of This Is Show Business, which was followed by appearances in an assortment of anthology series such as Pulitzer Prize Playhouse, Hollywood Opening Night and Celanese Theatre. From 1954 to 1955 she starred in Willy, a sitcom produced by Desilu for CBS in which Havoc played a young lawyer.

In 1964 Havoc was nominated for a Tony Award for directing Marathon ’33, which she also wrote (it was based on her first memoir, Early Havoc, published in 1959; a second memoir, More Havoc, was released in 1980). She last appeared on Broadway in 1982 in Annie. Her last film was 1987’s A Return to Salem’s Lot and her last television role was on General Hospital in 1990. Obituaries can be found at The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Playbill.com.

1 Comment

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    I’ve seen a complete 1954 episode of “WILLY” (with original General Mills commercials, including one pitched by June herself for Gold Medal flour during the program)- and while June was talented and quite pretty, the episode was less than satisfying, even though the series was produced for Desilu by her then-husband, William Spier [at one time, the producer of radio’s “SUSPENSE” and “THE ADVENTURES OF SAM SPADE”]. Perhaps this is why the show slightly shifted its format by mid-season [small-town female lawyer Willa “Willy” Dodger moves to the big city to represent a “theatrical organization”, headed by the ever-blustery Harold Peary], and its night and time (from Saturday to Thursday nights), and why CBS and General Mills {and the “alternate sponsor”, I’ve forgotten whom} finally gave up on the show by the summer of 1955. Perhaps June Havoc wasn’t meant to be a TV star….

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