Unlike her contemporary Dutch-American actress Betty Grable, who was revered as a pinup girl and sex symbol in her younger years, June Allyson was just a consummate movie actress with enormous staying powers. Allyson was active as a performer as recently as 2004, the year she reached her 87th birthday. During her long acting career she had been involved in over 100 performances.
June Allyson was born to Clara and Robert Geisman in New York City on October 17, 1917. At birth her name was Ella Geisman. Allyson later changed it to her professional name June Allyson. Her father’s family name was Van Geisman, which was simplified to Geisman before June was born. During her childhood, June’s parents separated and the father left the family. As a result Allyson was brought up by her mother and the family was forced to live in poverty.
After a childhood accident which nearly left her crippled, Allyson took up dancing and swimming for therapy. She enjoyed the dancing and became an avid fan of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. She viewed one of their musicals 18 times and taught herself how to dance, and practiced interminably. This intensive exercise not only allowed her to recover completely from her accident but also made her an accomplished dancer.
Allyson had become such a good dancer that she tried out at several auditions. She was hired as a chorus line professional dancer for the Broadway Musical “Sing Out the News” in 1938. Her next professional appearance was in the 1941 musical, “Best Foot Forward”. She was subsequently picked to be in the film version of “Best Foot Forward”, in 1941, and so made her film debut.
Allyson subsequently played in several other musicals including “Two Sisters from Boston” in 1946 and “Good News” in 1947. She next played straight roles in “The Three Musketeers” in 1948, “Little Women” in 1949, and “The Glen Miller Story” in 1953. During the fifties Allyson became one of the top box office attractions in the country. During that time period she was voted the number one female box office attraction in the country for six years in a row. In 1955, Allyson was the number one box office attraction in the country for both the male and female categories.
In addition to the above productions Allyson appeared among others in “Girl Crazy” in 1943, “Two Girls and a Sailor” in 1944, “Two Sisters from Boston” in 1946, “The Three Musketeers” in 1948, “Little Women “ in 1949, “The Girl in White” in 1952, “Executive Suite” in 1954, “Strategic Air Command” in 1955, “The Opposite Sex” in 1956, “You Can’t Run Away from It” in 1956, and “That’s Entertainment” in 1994.
Allyson married the famous movie star Dick Powell in 1945. He was 13 years her senior. It was quite uncommon for a couple to marry with such a gap in age in those days, but quite common at the present time. They had two children, Pamela A. Powell, an adopted child, and Richard Powell, Jr. June Allyson and Dick Powell remained married until Dick Powell’s death in 1963. During the early seventies she was briefly married to Glen Maxwell. In 1976, she married David Ashrow, a dentist who had become an actor. The couple toured the country in the late seventies/early eighties in the stage play “My Daughter, Your Son”.
June Allyson in her later years made many appearances on popular television shows such as “The Today Show”, “Good Morning America”, “The Merv Griffin Show” and many others. In 1985 Allyson received the Cannes Festival Distinguished Service Award. As a personal friend of President and Mrs. Reagan she was invited to many White House Dinners. In 1988, President Reagan appointed Allyson to “The Federal Council of Aging”. And in 1996 Allyson became the first recipient of the Harvey Award, presented by the James M. Stewart Foundation in recognition of her contributions to the world of entertainment. June Allyson passed away in 2006 at the age of 88.
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FIFTEEN PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN FAMILIES: THE VAN BURENS, KOCH BROTHERS, VOORHEES AND OTHERS, 2015
PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICANS IN U.S. GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP POSITIONS, 2015
DUTCH PEGELS INVOLVED IN WARS
ALLIED EUROPE CAMPAIGN—1944/1945: TACTICAL MISTAKES, 2017
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE NETHERLANDS: MEMOIRS, 2017
FRENCH REVOLUTION, NAPOLEON AND RUSSIAN WAR OF 1812, 2015