June Allyson (October 7, 1917 – July 8, 2006) was an American stage, film, and television actress, dancer, and singer.
Born Eleanor Geisman on Oct. 7, 1917, Ella was 6 when her alcoholic father left. Her mother worked as a telephone operator and restaurant cashier. At 8, the girl was bicycling when a dead tree branch fell on her. Several bones were broken and doctors said she would never walk again. Months of physical therapy helped her to defy that prognosis.
"After the accident and the extensive therapy, we were desperate," Allyson wrote in her autobiography. "Sometimes mother would not eat dinner, and I'd ask her why. She would say she wasn't hungry, but later I realized there was only enough food for one."
After graduating from a wheelchair to crutches to braces, Ella was inspired by Ginger Rogers' dancing with Fred Astaire. Fully recovered, she tried out for a chorus job in a Broadway show, ''Sing out the News.'' The choreographer gave her a job and a new name: Allyson, a family name, and June, for the month.
As June Allyson she danced on stage in "Very Warm for May" and "Higher and Higher." For "Panama Hattie," she understudied Betty Hutton and subbed for her when Miss Hutton got the measles. Her performance led to a role in "Best Foot Forward" in 1941. MGM signed her to a contract, and she appeared in small roles. Then in "Two Girls and a Sailor" (1944), her winsome beauty and bright personality connected with U.S. servicemen. She starred in "Music for Millions," "The Sailor Takes a Wife," "Two Sisters from Boston" and "Good News."
Allyson appeared opposite Johnson in several films, and she was Stewart's wife in "The Stratton Story," "The Glenn Miller Story" and "Strategic Air Command." Only once did she play an unsympathetic role, as a wife who torments husband Jose Ferrer in "The Shrike." It was a failure. In 1949, she starred with Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh and Margaret O'Brien in "Little Women."
In 1945, Allyson married Powell, the crooner who turned serious actor and then producer-director and television tycoon. The marriage seemed like one of Hollywood's happiest, but it wasn't. She began earning big money after leaving MGM, "but it had little meaning to me because I never saw the money, and I didn't even ask Richard how much it was. ... It went into a common pot with Richard's money." The couple separated in 1961, but reconciled and remained together until his death in 1963. They had two children, Pamela, who lives in Santa Monica, and Richard Keith Powell, who lives in Los Angeles.
A few months after Powell's death, Allyson married his barber, Glenn Maxwell. They separated 10 months later, and she sued for divorce, charging he hit her and abused her in front of the children and passed bad checks for gambling debts. During this time, Allyson struggled with alcoholism, which she overcame in the mid-1970s. In 1976, Allyson married David Ashrow, a dentist turned actor. The couple occasionally performed together in regional theater, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s, toured the United States with the stage play My Daughter, Your Son. They also appeared on celebrity cruise ship tours on the Royal Viking Sky, in a program that highlighted Allyson's movie career.
After her film career ended in the late '50s, Allyson starred on television as hostess and occasional star of "The Dupont Show with June Allyson." The anthology series lasted two seasons. In later years the actress appeared on TV shows such as "Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote."
For the last 20 years, Allyson represented the Kimberly-Clark Corp. in commercials for Depends and championed the importance of research in urological and gynaecological diseases in seniors.
Following hip-replacement surgery in 2003, Allyson's health began to deteriorate. She died July 8, 2006, aged 88 at her home in Ojai, California. Her death was a result of pulmonary respiratory failure and acute bronchitis. (Info mainly edited from legacy.com)