Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fran Jeffries, 1937-2016

Fran Jeffries died last week at the age of 79. She had a career as a singer, dancer, actress and model in the Fifties through the Eighties. The highlight of her film career is singing and dancing in 1963 film The Pink Panther. You can see several of the film's stars in the background: David Niven, Robert Wagner, Capucine. The song is Meglio Stasera, which translates to "It would be better tonight", with music by Henry Mancini and Italian lyrics by Franco Migliacci.

Having seen some films about show business in the past few years, notably Birdman and La La Land, it's hard to think of the lives of actresses as being glamorous. Ms. Jeffries was a Northern California girl, daughter of a Greek immigrant barber who went on to own a restaurant. Her first big break came when she was discovered by Dick Haymes, twenty years her senior and at the trailing edge of his career. Haymes had a beautiful voice, but was hated in Hollywood, partly for not serving in World War II and the other part for being a womanizer and drunk.  She recorded a few albums, none of them hits and no singles made the charts. She has a grand total of eight appearances on, including Elvis Presley's Harum Scarum. She appeared twice in Playboy, the last time at the age of 45.

Ms. Jeffries' career is an archetypical example of just how talented and attractive you can be and have a career that never catches fire. It is typical of the time to have her Greek name taken from her and given an Anglicized name in its place. She could have had a career like Julie London or Vikki Carr, an Anglicized beauty of Mexican-American heritage, but it was not to be.

While her life's glamour may have been hard won and short-lived, as a kid I thought this scene was the height of glamour. It reminds me of the sexy dance Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) does at a party on Mad Men.

Here is Fran Jeffries singing Meglio Stastera from The Pink Panther. May she never be forgotten.


dguzman said...

I remember this scene well. RIP.

Matthew Hubbard said...

Glad to see the young people getting a good education.