FRANCINE YORK – SHE'S NO GIRL-NEXT-DOOR
Jan 6, 2017, 4:57 p.m.
Having appeared in hundreds of commercials, films and television shows, the eternal beauty shares memories of the icons she has worked with and tips on maintaining health, beauty and happiness at any age
Story and photo by David Laurell
Standing in her living room, actress Francine York makes a sweeping grand gesture towards the hallway of her San Fernando Valley home. “This is my Norma Desmond gallery,” she laughs while making her way into the corridor with walls covered from ceiling to floor with framed production stills from her film and television appearances, along with photos of her with a galaxy of co-stars and entertainment luminaries.
From the seven films she did with Jerry Lewis, who discovered her, and roles opposite such Hollywood heavyweights as Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, David Niven and Nicolas Cage, to her guest starring appearances on hundreds of classic television programs from “Batman” and “Bewitched” to “Columbo” and “Kojak,” York’s gallery chronicles a six-decade career that began as a sweater model.
A native of Aurora, Minnesota, a small mining town located halfway between Duluth and the Canadian border, York parlayed her stunning good looks and beauty pageant participation into a modeling job with the Minneapolis-based Jane Richards Sportswear before reaching her 20th birthday. After also modeling for Macy’s and I. Magnin & Company department store ads, York took the leap to Hollywood, where she worked as a showgirl at Frank Sennes’ popular Sunset Boulevard nightclub, Moulin Rouge.
Working at the club in the evening, York used her days to make the rounds with casting directors and, after landing a role in the 1962 feature film, “Secret File: Hollywood,” went on to do a string of high-profile commercials. Catching the attention of Jerry Lewis, who cast her in his 1962 film, “It’s Only Money,” she became a Lewis film regular appearing in “The Nutty Professor,” “Family Jewels,” “The Patsy,” “The Disorderly Orderly,” and “Cracking Up.”
Throughout the 1960s, York appeared in Max Factor cosmetic ads, did a string of feature films including “Bedtime Story” with Marlon Brando and David Niven, “Tickle Me” with Elvis Presley, and “School for Bachelors” with Bob Hope and Eva Marie Saint. During this time and well into the next two decades, York made guest appearances in just about every popular television series that ever aired including “Bewitched,” “Green Acres,” “Lost in Space,” “Batman,” “Love, American Style,” “The Streets of San Francisco” and “Mission Impossible,” to name a scant few.
York would also turn in two performances that would become cult classics: as Sabrina Kincaid, the leader of an elite team of gorgeous female assassins who attempt to stop a diabolical madman from destroying the world in the 1973 grade-Z flick, “The Doll Squad,” and as Marilyn Monroe in the 1992 horror film, “Marilyn: Alive and Behind Bars.”
PRESLEY PERCEPTIONS AND MARLON MEMORIES
Today, York, who will turn 78 in August, still keeps up a hectic work schedule, does periodic television appearances, and is currently in pre-production on a feature, “Ten Violent Women: Part Two,” scheduled to begin shooting this summer.