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|Also Known As:||Arline Francis Kazanjian||Died:||May 31, 2001|
|Born:||October 20, 1907||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Boston, Massachusetts, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor radio performer TV personality|
downstage ( 2010-12-03 )
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The only daughter of an Armenian photographer father, and a mother of English descent whose own father was an actor, Arlene Francis Kazanjian would make her own mark on film, radio, stage, and television. Born in Boston on October 20, 1907, Francis wanted nothing more than to be an actress, even from an early age. Her family moved to New York when she was 7, where she was educated at the Convent of Mount St. Vincent, and finished at Finch College. Her father tried to repeatedly discourage her from going into acting, but she persisted. Francis' film debut was in the 1932 Bela Lugosi classic "Murders In The Rue Morgue," as a 'Woman of the Streets.' She also became a fast-rising radio star, and was active on the stage, earning her first starring Broadway role in the George Abbott-produced "All That Glitters." Francis would become involved with Orson Welles' Mercury Theater, crossing paths with such greats as Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, and her future husband, Martin Gabel; she and Gabel would marry in 1946, and remain together until his death in May, 1986. In the 1940s, Francis found further success from her starring role in the Broadway hit "The Doughgirls," films such as "Stage Door Canteen" (1943) and "All My Sons" (1948), and countless radio programs; her most famous radio program, "Blind Date," propelled her to stardom as the first 'femcee' of a game show, and the program also became one of the earliest hit shows on television. In February 1950, Francis became a regular on the famed TV panel show "What's My Line," which would catapult her to becoming one of the most recognized celebrities in the country; she would stay with the show for the entire 25 years it aired on television. In addition, she was also host and editor-in-chief of NBC's groundbreaking daytime show "Home," reunited with Joseph Cotten on Broadway in the hit comedy "Once More, With Feeling," and by 1960, was also hosting her own eponymous radio show on New York's WOR, which ultimately would run for 24 years. Francis resumed her film career in Billy Wilder's Cold War-era comedy "One, Two Three" (1961), with James Cagney, and as a mid-life expectant mother in the Doris Day/Rock Hudson film "The Thrill Of It All" (1963), but her next (and ultimately last) film role would be another meeting with Billy Wilder, in the loosely Garbo-esque biopic, "Fedora" (1978). Francis continued to work on the stage and on television for many years to come, published her memoirs in 1978, and was doing interviews, seminars, and public appearances into her 80s. She eventually began to experience the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, and moved to San Francisco in 1993 to be closer to her son, Peter Gabel, a well-known law teacher and advocate; after a long-fought battle, Francis died on May 31, 2001, at the age of 93. She left behind a large and varied legacy of work, and has recently experienced a resurgence of interest, thanks to airings of "What's My Line," and an ever-growing online fan base.
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