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Ann Miller
Miller in 1957
Johnnie Lucille Collier

(1923-04-12)April 12, 1923
St. Joseph's Infirmary, Houston, Texas, U.S.[1]
DiedJanuary 22, 2004(2004-01-22) (aged 80)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Actress, dancer, singer
Years active1934–2001
Reese Llewellyn Milner
(m. 1946; div. 1947)
Bill Moss
(m. 1958; div. 1961)
Arthur Cameron
(m. 1961; div. 1962)

Ann Miller (born Johnnie Lucille Collier; April 12, 1923 – January 22, 2004) was an American actress and dancer. She is best remembered for her work in the classical Hollywood cinema musicals of the 1940s and 1950s. Her early work included roles in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It with You (1938) and the Marx Brothers film Room Service (1938). She later starred in the musical classics Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949) and Kiss Me Kate (1953). Her final film role was in Mulholland Drive (2001).

In 1960, Miller received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2017, The Daily Telegraph named her one of the greatest actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
    159 460
    44 218
    510 434
    71 843
    12 615
  • Ann Miller at 15
  • Ricardo Montalbán, Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse | "Dance of Fury" | The Kissing Bandit ('48)
  • Ann Miller at her best!
  • Tap Dancing Hollywood Legend Ann Miller Discusses Her Time at MGM
  • Detention | 2008 | FULL MOVIE | Thriller, Crime | Penelope Ann Miller, Alison Brie


Early life

Johnnie Lucille Collier (some sources provide other names, such as Lucille Collier[3] and Lucy Ann Collier)[4][5] was born at St. Joseph's Infirmary in Houston, Texas[1] on April 12, 1923. She was the only child of mother Clara Emma (née Birdwell) and father John Alfred Collier, a criminal lawyer who represented the Barrow gang, Machine Gun Kelly and Baby Face Nelson.[6] Her maternal grandmother was of Cherokee descent.[6]

Miller began dance classes at the age of five in an attempt to strengthen her legs after suffering from rickets.[7] She came to be considered a child dance prodigy. In a documentary on the making of the compilation film That's Entertainment! Part III (1994), she said that Eleanor Powell was an early inspiration.[8]

When Miller was nine, her parents divorced, reportedly due to her father's infidelities. Miller later noted that her father "wasn't a very good dad."[9] After the divorce, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, but her mother struggled to find work due to deafness. Because Miller appeared much older than her true age, she began to work as a dancer in nightclubs and supported her mother. She adopted the stage name Ann Miller, which she kept throughout her career.[7]


Miller in 1946

1936-56: Film actress

At age 13 in 1936, Miller became a showgirl at the Bal Tabarin. Due to laws regarding employment at establishments that sold liquor, Miller lied about her age and said she was 18. While working at Bal Tabarin, Miller was discovered by Lucille Ball and talent scout/comic Benny Rubin there.[10][9] This led to a contract with RKO, who were under the belief that Miller was 18. When they discovered her true age later, her father provided a fake birth certificate with the name Lucy Ann Collier.[11][12][9] Miller's first major role came as Ginger Rogers’ dancing partner in Gregory La Cava’s Stage Door in 1937. In 1938 and 1939, Miller was a supporting actress in many of the studio's films such as Radio City Revels, Room Service, and most notably as the quirky Essie Carmichael in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You. In 1939, Miller made her Broadway debut in George White's Scandals of 1939. She remained at RKO until 1940.[13]

Miller in 1948

Miller was famed for her speed in tap dancing. Studio publicists drafted press releases claiming that she could tap 500 times per minute, but the sound of 500 taps was artificial. Because the stage floors were waxed and too slick for regular tap shoes, she had to dance in shoes with rubber treads on the soles. She would then loop the sound of the taps while watching the film and dance on a "tap board" to match her steps in the film.[14] In later life, Miller claimed to have invented pantyhose in the 1940s as a solution to the continual problem of torn stockings during the filming of dance-production numbers. The common practice had been to sew hosiery to briefs, and if torn, the entire garment had to be removed and resewn with a new pair. Miller asked a hosiery maker to produce a single combined garment.[14][15]

In 1941, she signed with Columbia Pictures starring in eleven B musicals from 1941 to 1945, beginning with Time Out for Rhythm. In July 1945, she posed in a bathing suit as a Yank magazine pin-up girl. She ended her contract in 1946 with one A film, The Thrill of Brazil. An advertisement for the film in Life magazine featured Miller's leg in a stocking tied with a large red bow as the "T" in "Thrill."[citation needed]

After leaving Columbia and recovering from an injury, Miller signed a contract with MGM. Her first appearance was in Easter Parade (1948), in which she co-starred alongside Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. During her time at MGM, Miller mostly appeared as the secondary female lead in films such as On the Town (1949) and Kiss Me Kate (1953).

1957-89: Stage work

Miller in Sugar Babies, 1979

As the studio system and musical films began to fade in the late 1950s, Miller turned her attention to theater and television appearances. She became known later for her distinctive appearance, which reflected a studio-era ideal of glamour: large black bouffant hair, heavy makeup with a splash of crimson lipstick and fashions that emphasized her figure and long legs.[16]

In May 1969, Miller made a comeback on Broadway when she took over the title role in the musical Mame, dancing a tap number created for her. Miller remained in the role until the show closed in January 1970. The following year, she headlined a television production of Dames at Sea alongside Ann-Margret for NBC. She also appeared in an iconic television commercial for “The Great American Soup” (created by Stan Freberg) in which she rose through the floor atop an eight-foot high cylinder designed to resemble a giant soup can. The advertisement was intended as a spectacular song and dance number in the tradition of the musicals in which she had starred.

Miller began touring with theater productions such as Hello, Dolly! and Panama Hattie. In 1979, she appeared in the Broadway show Sugar Babies with fellow MGM veteran Mickey Rooney, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. The duo toured the country extensively after the show's Broadway run. In 1983, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre,[17] On May 1, 1989 at the age of 66, Miller sang and tap-danced to "42nd Street" at the opening of the Disney MGM Studios, her last live dance performance.[citation needed]

Miller appeared in a special 1982 episode of The Love Boat, joined by fellow showbiz legends Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Della Reese, Van Johnson and Cab Calloway in a storyline that cast them as older relatives of the show's regular characters. Miller also published two books. Her first was an autobiography, Miller's High Life (1972).[18] Her second was Tapping into the Force (1990), a book about her experiences in the psychic world.[19][20]

1990-2004: Final projects

The handprints of Ann Miller in front of the Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

During the 1990s, Miller rose as a popular figure to interview for her time in the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was the subject of This Is Your Life on British television in 1993 when she was surprised by Michael Aspel at the studios of CBS Television City. That same year, she appeared as a dance instructor in the Home Improvement episode "Dances with Tools".[citation needed]

Miller's last stage performance was a 1998 Paper Mill Playhouse production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, in which she played hard-boiled Carlotta Campion and received rave reviews for her rendition of the song "I'm Still Here."[21] In 2001, Miller played her last role as landlady Coco in director David Lynch's critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive.

Between 1995 and 2001, Molly Shannon parodied Miller several times on Saturday Night Live in a recurring sketch titled "Leg-Up!"[22]

Personal life

Miller was married three times: to Reese Llewellyn Milner from 1946 to 1947; to William Moss from 1958 to 1961; and to Arthur Cameron from 1961 to 1962. Between marriages, she dated well-known men such as Howard Hughes and Conrad Hilton. In 1944, Louis B. Mayer proposed to her despite him being married.[15][23]

During her marriage to Milner, Miller became pregnant. During her last trimester, Milner threw her down a flight of stairs, breaking her back and causing her to experience premature labor. Her baby, Mary, lived only three hours on November 12, 1946.[23] Miller filed for divorce shortly after.[23] She alleged that her second husband was also abusive.[23]


Miller died at the age of 80 from lung cancer on January 22, 2004,[6] and her remains were interred in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.[24]

For her contribution to the motion-picture industry, Miller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6914 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1998, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.[25] To honor Miller's contribution to dance, the Smithsonian Institution displays her favorite pair of tap shoes, which she playfully nicknamed "Moe and Joe."[26]



Year Title Role Notes
1934 Anne of Green Gables School Girl Uncredited
1935 The Good Fairy Schoolgirl in Orphanage Uncredited
1936 The Devil on Horseback Dancer Uncredited
1937 New Faces of 1937 Herself, Dance Specialty
The Life of the Party Betty
Stage Door Annie
1938 Radio City Revels Billie Shaw
Having Wonderful Time Camp Guest Uncredited
You Can't Take It with You Essie Carmichael
Room Service Hilda Manny
Tarnished Angel Violet 'Vi' McMaster
1940 Too Many Girls Pepe
Hit Parade of 1941 Anabelle Potter
Melody Ranch Julie Shelton
1941 Time Out for Rhythm Kitty Brown
Go West, Young Lady Lola
1942 True to the Army Vicki Marlow
Priorities on Parade Donna D'Arcy
1943 Reveille with Beverly Beverly Ross
What's Buzzin', Cousin? Ann Crawford
1944 Hey, Rookie Winnie Clark
Sailor's Holiday Herself
Jam Session Terry Baxter
Carolina Blues Julie Carver
1945 Eadie Was a Lady Eadie Allen and Edithea Alden
Eve Knew Her Apples Eve Porter
1946 The Thrill of Brazil Linda Lorens Alternative title: Dancing Down to Rio
Night and Day uncredited - one dance number
1948 Easter Parade Nadine Hale
The Kissing Bandit Fiesta Specialty Dancer
1949 On the Town Claire Huddesen
1950 Watch the Birdie Miss Lucky Vista
1951 Texas Carnival Sunshine Jackson
Two Tickets to Broadway Joyce Campbell
1952 Lovely to Look At Bubbles Cassidy
1953 Small Town Girl Lisa Bellmount
Kiss Me Kate Lois Lane 'Bianca'
1954 Deep in My Heart Performer in 'Artists and Models'
1955 Hit the Deck Ginger
1956 The Opposite Sex Gloria
The Great American Pastime Mrs. Doris Patterson
1976 Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood President's Girl 2
2001 Mulholland Drive Catherine 'Coco' Lenoix Final film role


Year Title Role Notes
1953 Lux Video Theatre Intermission Guest Episode - "Three Just Me"
1971 Dames at Sea Mona TV adaptation of stage musical[27]
1972 Love, American Style Episode - "Love and the Christmas Punch"
1982 The Love Boat Connie Carruthers Episode - "The Musical/My Ex-Mom/The Show Must Go On/The Pest/My Aunt, the Worrier" (Part 1)
Episode - "The Musical/My Ex-Mom/The Show Must Go On/The Pest/My Aunt, the Worrier" (Part 2)
1990 Out of This World Elsie Vanderhoff Episode - "Diamond's Are Evie's Best Friend"
1993 Home Improvement Mrs. Keeney Episode - "Dances with Tools"
2003 100 Greatest Self Contributor, Episode - "The 100 Greatest Musicals".[28]


Year Film Role Notes
1939 George White's Scandals of 1939 Performer Alvin Theatre, Broadway
1968 Can-Can Performer
1969 Mame Mame Dennis Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway
1971 Hello, Dolly! Dolly Gallagher Levi Kenley Players
1972 Anything Goes Reno Sweeney Regional, New Jersey
1973 Blithe Spirit Elvira Little Theatre on Square
1976 Panama Hattie Hattie Maloney Syracuse Artists Playhouse
1978 Cactus Flower Stephanie Regional
1979-83 Sugar Babies Ann Mark Hellinger Theatre, Broadway
1998 Follies Carlotta Campion Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, New Jersey

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1980 Tony Awards Best Actress in a Musical Sugar Babies Nominated [29]
1980 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated

On February 8, 1960, Miller received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6914 Hollywood Blvd.

See also


  1. ^ a b Biography, Accessed June 13, 2023.
  2. ^ Robey, Tim (February 1, 2016). "20 great actors who've never been nominated for an Oscar". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 11, 2022. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  3. ^ Shake A Leg. Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. October 1939. p. 20.
  4. ^ Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 115.
  5. ^ Glenn Plaskin (October 1, 1992). Turning point: pivotal moments in the lives of celebrities. Carol Pub. Group. ISBN 978-1-55972-138-7.
  6. ^ a b c Severo, Richard (January 23, 2004). "Ann Miller, Tap-Dancer Starring in Musicals, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Ann Miller profile". Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  8. ^ "Obituaries – Ann Miller – Dancing Star and 'Queen of the Bs'". The Independent. January 24, 2004. Archived from the original on March 12, 2011. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Ann Miller 1". October 17, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2023 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "Ann Miller to put on the glitz for big night". July 5, 2002.
  11. ^ Tony Thomas (1984). That's dancing!. Abrams. p. 202.
  12. ^ Jim Connor (January 1, 1981). Ann Miller, Tops in Taps: An Authorized Pictorial History. Watts. ISBN 978-0-531-09949-0.
  13. ^ "Ann Miller profile". Reel Classics. March 10, 2011. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Private Screenings: Ann Miller". 1997. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Ann Miller 3". October 17, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2023 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Profile,; accessed October 31, 2014.
  17. ^ "Awardees". Sarah Siddons Society. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "Miller's high life". Goodreads. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Miller, Ann; Asher, Maxine (1990). Tapping into the Force by Ann Miller. Hampton Roads Publishing Company. ISBN 0962437522.
  20. ^ "Tapping Into the Force". Goodreads. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  21. ^ Brantley, Ben (May 8, 1998). "Beguiled by the Past". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  22. ^ "Leg Up", a recurring sketch from SNL with Molly Shannon and Cheri Oteri
  23. ^ a b c d Rutledge, Stephen (April 12, 2019). "#BornThisDay: Gay Icon, Ann Miller". The WOW Report. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  24. ^ The Archaeology of Hollywood
  25. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated,; accessed October 31, 2014.
  26. ^ "Ann Miller profile". Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  27. ^ Dames at Sea (1971, TV adaptation) at IMDb
  28. ^ "The 100 Greatest Musicals (TV Movie 2003)". IMDb.
  29. ^ "Anne Miller". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved April 8, 2020.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 31 January 2024, at 22:49
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