Anne Francis, Hollywood beauty known for 'Honey West,' 'Forbidden Planet'

Actress Anne Francis, who was the love interest in the 1950s science-fiction classic "Forbidden Planet" and later was sexy private eye in "Honey West" on TV, has died at age 80.
By Dennis McLellan
Monday, January 3, 2011; 10:51 PM

Anne Francis, who co-starred in the 1950s science-fiction classic "Forbidden Planet" and later played the title role in "Honey West," the mid-1960s TV series about a sexy female private detective with a pet ocelot, died Dec. 2. She was 80.

Ms. Francis, who had a diagnosis of lung cancer in 2007 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy, died from complications of pancreatic cancer at a retirement home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

A shapely and pretty blonde with a signature beauty mark next to her lower lip, Ms. Francis was a former child model and radio actress when she first got attention in big-screen roles in the early 1950s.

She had leading or supporting parts in more than 30 movies, including "Bad Day at Black Rock," "Battle Cry," "Blackboard Jungle," "The Hired Gun," "Don't Go Near the Water," "Brainstorm," "Funny Girl" and "Hook, Line and Sinker."

She found a devoted following as one of the stars of "Forbidden Planet," the 1956 MGM movie co-starring Walter Pidgeon and Leslie Nielsen and featuring a helpful robot named Robby.

Ms. Francis played Altaira, the alluring daughter of the scientist character played by Pidgeon. They were the sole surviving human inhabitants of the mysterious, technologically advanced planet.

"I got that part because I was under contract to MGM and I had good legs," Ms. Francis, who wore futuristically abbreviated costumes, said in a 1992 interview for Starlog magazine.

Ms. Francis, however, never became a major movie star and was more frequently seen on television as a guest star in scores of series from the late '50s and decades beyond, including an episode of "The Twilight Zone," in which she played a department store mannequin who comes to life at night.

On television, she may be best remembered as the star of "Honey West," one of the first female detectives to be featured in a weekly TV series.

Based on the title character in G.G. Fickling's series of Honey West paperback mysteries launched in 1957, Ms. Francis's Honey West was introduced to TV viewers in an episode of "Burke's Law" in the spring of 1965.

The episode served as the pilot for the half-hour "Honey West" series. With Aaron Spelling as its executive producer, the series made its debut in the fall of 1965.

Honey West, who inherited a Los Angeles detective agency from her late father, had a partner named Sam Bolt (played by John Ericson), shared an apartment with her Aunt Meg (Irene Hervey) and owned a man-hating pet ocelot named Bruce Biteabit.

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