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Francine York

  • Birthplace: Aurora, MN
  • Birthday: August 26
Date of passing: 
January 06, 2017

Obituary

Francine York was an American actress.

She was born to Frank and Sophie Yerich in the small mining town of Aurora, Minnesota.

Francine York was an American actress.

She was born to Frank and Sophie Yerich in the small mining town of Aurora, Minnesota.

In 1941, her family moved to Cleveland, where she began to write short stories and take an interest in acting. At the age of twelve, her family moved back to Aurora, where she continued performing in class plays. She wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a three-act play called Keen Teens or Campus Quarantine, charging five cents admission; the whole town attended. While studying journalism and drama at Aurora High School, she worked as the feature editor of her school newspaper, and she won all of the school's declamation contests with her dramatic readings. She was a baton twirling majorette for the school marching band and active in the 4-H club, where she won several blue ribbons for cooking in both county and state fairs.

At age 17, she won a local beauty contest and became a runner-up in the Miss Minnesota contest. Moving to Minneapolis, she landed a job modeling sweaters for New York-based Jane Richards Sportswear and began traveling throughout the U.S. She relocated to San Francisco and took a modeling course at the House of Charm agency, which helped her begin a modeling career for major department stores, including Macy's. Her modeling got the attention of the producers of the Miss San Francisco beauty pageant.

York soon got a job as a showgirl at Bimbo’s nightclub in San Francisco. Bimbo’s headliner, Mary Meade French, brought York to Hollywood and helped get her signed with an agent. York worked as a showgirl at Frank Sennes' Moulin Rouge, a popular Hollywood nightclub on Sunset Blvd., where she performed in three shows a night, seven nights a week, for six months. Tired of sharing a stage with elephants, pigeons, and horses, she began taking acting classes with actor/teacher Jeff Corey. A theatrical producer cast her in a play called Whisper In God's Ear at the Circle Theatre, and she was also cast in her first movie, Secret File: Hollywood, a film about the day-to-day operations of a sleazy Hollywood tabloid.

York’s first big break came when Jerry Lewis cast her in his film, It's Only Money, in which she played a tantalizing sexpot, a role which brought her a tremendous amount of publicity. This led to Lewis hiring her for five more of his films, including The Nutty Professor, The Patsy, The Disorderly Orderly, The Family Jewels, and Cracking Up, in which she played a fifteenth century marquise. Other notable film appearances include Bedtime Story (with Marlon Brando and David Niven), Tickle Me (with Elvis Presley), Cannon For Cordoba (with George Peppard), and science fiction cult films Curse of the Swamp Creature, Mutiny From Outer Space, and Space Probe Taurus. York’s most popular film was the 1973 cult classic The Doll Squad, where she played Sabrina Kincaid, leader of an elite team of gorgeous female assassins who attempt to stop a diabolical madman from destroying the world with a deadly plague virus.

York has also had tremendous success in television, with appearances on Route 66, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, My Favorite Martian, Burke's Law, Perry Mason, Batman, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Lost In Space, It Takes A Thief, Green Acres, The Wild Wild West, Ironside, I Dream Of Jeannie, Love American Style, Mannix, Bewitched, Adam-12, Mission: Impossible, Kojak, Columbo, Matlock, The King Of Queens, and Las Vegas, among many others.

York died on January 6, 2017, in Van Nuys, California. She was 80.

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Francine York

Francine York

Photo credit: 
Universal Pictures/Photofest

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