Francine, Actress and Cabaret Singer, Dies at 82
Anne Francine, an actress who worked in film, theater and television
and who was also a prominent cabaret performer for six decades,
died on Friday at the Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in London,
Conn. She was 82 and lived in Old Lyme, Conn.
Born into Main Line Philadelphia society, Miss Francine came of age
during the 1930's, when New York's numerous intimate night spots
offered opportunities for beginners. With her imposing good looks,
bawdy humor and raspy contralto, she made her performing debut at the
Coq Rouge, after winning an amateur contest, and went on to
engagements at the Pierre, the Persian Room, the Copacabana and the
In the mid-1940's she traveled abroad, singing in late-night haunts in
London and Paris. Impeccably mannered and beautifully spoken, she
centered her programs on the flippant high-society songs of Cole Porter
and Jerome Kern, inserting comedic gestures often funny enough to bring
the house down.
Miss Francine made her Broadway debut in 1954 with Shirley Booth in
"By the Beautiful Sea" before going on to work with Alfred Lunt and
Lynn Fontanne in "The Great Sebastians" the next season. In the
A.P.A.-Phoenix Repertory Company production of "The School for
Scandal" she stepped in for a vacationing Helen Hayes. But her favorite
role was that of Vera Charles in the 1966 Broadway production of
"Mame," starring Angela Lansbury. She and Ms. Lansbury reprised their
characters in the 1983 revival. Ms. Francine last appeared on Broadway
in 1987 as Mrs. Harcourt in the Lincoln Center revival of "Anything
Goes," starring Patti LuPone.
Miss Francine's film work included "Crocodile Dundee" and Fellini's
"Juliet of the Spirits." On television she was best known for her portrayal
of the conniving matriarch Flora Simpson Reilly in "Harper Valley
P.T.A.," with Barbara Eden, in the early 1980's.
A frequent performer on the summer stock circuit, Miss Francine was a
regular presence at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford,
Conn., where she taught at the annual cabaret symposium. Even after a
1992 stroke left her unable to speak, she would instruct students by
pantomiming her commands or writing them on an erasable box designed
for that purpose.
No immediate relatives survive.