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Frances Rafferty Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (6) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 16 June 1922Sioux City, Iowa, USA
Date of Death 18 April 2004Paso Robles, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameFrances Anne Rafferty

Mini Bio (2)

A pouty-lipped glamour girl in "B" films during the 1940s, actress Frances Rafferty did a complete role reversal and turned wholesome housewife on TV into the next decade.

Born on June 16, 1922 in Sioux City, Iowa, Frances Anne Rafferty and her family, during the Depression era, moved to Los Angeles in search of work. Interested in the arts while growing up, she won a scholarship to the Edith Jane Dancing School the next year and attended UCLA following her high school graduation, but dropped out when she nabbed an understudy position for dancer Vera Zorina in the film I Was an Adventuress (1940), choreographed by the legendary George Balanchine.

A severe leg injury suffered after falling during a performance of "The Firebird" at the Hollywood Bowl changed her focus from dance to acting. Coached by the renowned teachers Maria Ouspenskaya, Frances was signed by MGM at the age of 19 and began with a dancing bit in Presenting Lily Mars (1943) starring Judy Garland. Other parts in The War Against Mrs. Hadley (1942), Barbary Coast Gent (1944) and Mrs. Parkington (1944) added to her film credits. Her almond-shaped eyes gave this beauty a slightly exotic look and she capitalized on it in her best movie performance Dragon Seed (1944) as the ill-fated Oriental girl who is raped and subsequently murdered. Her skills as a dancer also showed up in the film comedy Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Hollywood (1945), in which she dances in the elaborate "On the Midway" number.

Unable to secure major starring parts in "A" pictures, Frances remained an able "B"-level co-star with postwar roles in Bad Bascomb (1946), Lost Honeymoon (1947), Curley (1947) and An Old-Fashioned Girl (1949). None did anything to further her career.

A marriage to John Harlan in 1944 lasted only three years. In 1948 she married Thomas R. Baker, an Air Force colonel who later became general manager for the Los Alamitos Racetrack. They had two children, Bridget and Kevin. Following a role in The Shanghai Story (1954), Frances began setting her sights realistically on TV. A friendship with comedienne Lucille Ball helped Frances earn the co-starring role of "Ruth Henshaw", the daughter of Spring Byington, in the highly popular Desilu sitcom December Bride (1954), a role for which she is probably best known. When Harry Morgan, who played "Pete Porter" on the show, spun his character into the subsequent series Pete and Gladys (1960), Frances was brought on board to play Nancy, a next-door-neighbor. The show, which co-starred Cara Williams as Gladys, was short-lived, lasting only one season.

Frances quietly semi-retired after the show's demise with just a handful of TV performances coming her way, then disappeared altogether. She later raised quarter horses with her husband in California for a time. She died in 2004 of natural causes at age 81 in Paso Robles, where she helped form a local acting group called the "Pioneer Players".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Her two children are Briget and Kevin and she also has a grandson, Michael. She lived in Paso Robles in the 1960s and was instrumental in forming a local acting group "Pioneer Players" which she directed for many years. She later moved back to Los Angeles and then to Colorado before returning to Paso Robles. She received two Emmy nominations during her career.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: T. Santos

Spouse (2)

Thomas R. Baker (9 October 1948 - 18 April 2004) (her death) (2 children)
John Harlan (30 August 1944 - 18 February 1947) (divorced)

Trivia (6)

Met actress Alexis Smith as a dance student at age 10 and they remained lifelong friends. It was Smith who suggested Frances try acting after a knee injury ended her promising dance career. Frances was at Smith's bedside when she died of cancer in 1993.
Was a war-era cover girl for "Yank, the Army Weekly" a couple of times.
Had a daughter and son with second husband Thomas Baker, whom she was introduced to by actress/dancer Peggy Ryan.
Lucille Ball, who remembered Frances from their MGM days, was instrumental in casting her in the December Bride (1954) series, which was produced by Ball's company, Desilu.
She was a staunch Republican and conservative.
Upon her death, her remains were donated to medical science.

Personal Quotes (1)

I've completely forgotten the craft of acting. It was all great fun, but retirement is even nicer. I never had any ambition other than to keep working as long as I had to.

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