With the passing of two Hollywood greats in the past month, the lovely Anne Francis and the equally lovely Leslie Nielson (I’m sure he’d appreciate that description), one can’t help but think back to the movie that did much to launch both of their careers:
Forbidden Planet, arguably the first great modern science fiction movie.
Watch the Theatrical Trailer for Forbidden Planet.
Nielson was a familiar face to early TV viewers, appearing frequently in such shows as Tales of Tomorrow, Suspense, and Lights Out.
Like Nielson, Anne Francis had appeared in a fair amount of early television, but had already made her mark in movies as well, having appeared prominently in Blackboard Jungle and Bad Day at Black Rock, and to a lesser extent in Battle Cry.
For all of its attributes (special effects, Technicolor production, and decent budget), MGM’s forbidden Planet was a (high grade) B movie, never envisioned to become a classic of the genre.
The cast reads like a roll call of soon-to-be TV stars. In addition to veteran movie actor Walter Pidgeon (top billed), Francis and Nielson were joined by:
Jack Kelly - Maverick
Richard Anderson – 6 Million Dollar Man
Earl Holliman - Police Woman
James Drury - The Virginian
Warren Stevens - Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers
& 150+ guest appearances
Today, I ran across a 30 minute filmed cast reunion, from 1999, moderated by Star Trek’s George Takai.
The occasion was the re-release of Forbidden Planet, and herein we get a delightful visit from Anne Francis, Warren Stevens, Earl Holliman, and Richard Anderson, with remembrances of the filming of that classic movie.
Leslie Nielson, noticeably absent, sent his regrets but was in Europe filming a movie as part of his `second’ career.
Although it rarely happens in Hollywood, Nielson – who had been type cast as a dramatic actor (The Bold Ones, The Poseidon Adventure)– broke into comedy and restarted his flagging career after his brilliantly dead-pan performance in AIRPLANE!.
The rest, as they say, is history. He became the rubber faced clown of the TV series Police Squad! and nearly two dozen of movie parodies.
Anne Francis would go on to star in the short-lived but well remembered detective series Honey West – a spin off from a 2nd season episode of Burke’s Law.
For more on her career, friend and fellow blogger, Andrew Fielding recently wrote of his remembrances of the star of Honey West in his tribute to Anne Francis.