|Anne Francis was an actress of extraordinary abilites.|
I didnt really, fully appreciate that myself until recentlysome time after Id fallen in love with the Honey West series and its characters.
Around three or four years ago, I stumbled across a mid-afternoon airing of Forbidden Planeta film I dont have in my collection, and that I hadnt seen since the 1980s, when I had been in my twenties. I started to watch it and, older, wiser, and more analytical, soon realised what a challenge portraying the character of Altaira must have been.
Prior to that day, I must have viewed Forbidden Planet three or four times over the years, but it wasnt until that moment that I saw what an extraordinary, improbable, and mythical creation the daughter of Morbius was, on the page. She was a woman who was a complete innocent, one who had an empathic rapport with naturebut who was also possessed of great intelligence, strength, and individuality. More importantly, I reflected on the fact that in all my previous viewings of the film, I had always accepted and believed in her as a living, breathing human beingand I realised that many of the qualities the character possessed came, not from the script, but from Anne Francis considered, honest, perfectly judged, and remarkable portrayal.
Watching the film that afternoon was a revelation. I suddenly realised, retrospectively, that every role I had seen Anne Francis playin Honey West, in The Twilight Zone, in Bad Day at Black Rock, in Brainwasha 1966 film noirhad been distinct from all the others.
Most actors have only one performance in themalthough they may harness and apply it effectively in different rolesbecause no matter what the nature of the character he or she is essaying may be, the same palette has to be employed: the same face, voice, and physical presence.
To create characters with genuinely different psychologies demands that actors not only possess a deep understanding of themselves and others, but that they can also call upon a command of emotional control that enables them to vary and direct the intensity of their performances to an extraordinary degree. Not all actors can do this.
Anne Francis could.
Anne Francis could create different psychologies, different personalitiesand that is a rare, and wonderful thing. It is an ability, incidentally, shared by her Honey West co-star, John Ericson.
Of all the roles I have seen Anne Francis play, probably the most concentrated example of her talent is the After Hours segment of The Twilight Zone. For those twenty-odd minutes, the stage is almost hers alone. To follow the journey the character of Marsha White undertakes, from confusion, irritation and belligerence, through fear and despair, to understanding and tranquility, is to watch a great artist at workand like all great artists, she takes us with her, and teaches us something about ourselves along the way.
When I heard of Anne Francis death, today, it saddened me enormously. I didnt know her; we exchanged a number of E-mails in 2005 and 2006, and she always treated me with great courtesy and generosity, and spoke of her work with enthusiasm and affection.
The newsletters she composed for her websitework on which has been suspended for some time nowdisplayed an impressive personal honesty, a spiritual and compassionate nature, and a genuinely inspiring, uncompromising ethical courageousness on political issues at a time when these qualities were missing from many of those in government.
Like all who work in the public arena, Anne Francis leaves behind the legacy of her work, and I dont believe its unreasonable to suggest that just as Altaira, Marsha White and Honey West will live on, the intelligence, compassion and strength of character of the woman who brought them to life will live on with them.
Today, however, just now, its impossible to feel anything other than an acute sense of loss
to the family and friends of Anne Francis,
Mark Rogers, January 4th, 2011
|What a delightful site you have built
I am so happy that you discovered Honey.
|E-mail from Anne Francis|
March 24th, 2006.