Singer-actress Gloria DeHaven, the perky star of MGM musicals in the 1940s and a stalwart of show business for more than six decades, has died. She was 91. DeHaven, who made her screen debut in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) as Paulette Goddard’s kid sister — her father served as an assistant director on the film — died Saturday while in hospice care in Las Vegas. She previously had a major stroke.
DeHaven, a studio player at MGM, appeared in a number of top films with leading stars, including Thousands Cheer (1943) with Gene Kelly;Two Girls and a Sailor (1944) with June Allyson and Van Johnson; Step Lively (1944) with Frank Sinatra; Summer Holiday (1948) with Mickey Rooney; The Doctor and the Girl (1949) with Glenn Ford and Nancy Reagan; Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) with Janet Leigh and Tony Martin; and The Girl Rush (1955) with Rosalind Russell.
DeHaven also performed in numerous other movies, including Best Foot Forward (1943), Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby (1949), Summer Stock (1950), Down Among the Sheltering Palms (1953), So This Is Paris (1954), Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) and the dreadful Bog (1979).
Her last movie appearance came as a lovely widow and romantic interest of Jack Lemmon’s character on the cruise-ship set Out to Sea (1997).
She played Annie “Tippy-toes” Wylie, a bisexual CB radio aficionado who also had an affair with the husband of Louise Lasser’s character, on the fabled Norman Lear syndicated series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and had a continuing role on the short-lived 1974 ABC series Nakia, starring Robert Forster.
DeHaven also appeared on the soaps As the World Turns, Ryan’s Hope (playing a woman who for a while lived in a trailer camp) and All My Children.
Gloria Mildred DeHaven was born July 23, 1925, in Los Angeles, the daughter of Parker and actor-director Carter DeHaven. They were billed in vaudeville as the song-and-dance team “Mr. and Mrs. Carter DeHaven.”
DeHaven made her Broadway debut as the star of the 1955 musical version of Seventh Heaven with Ricardo Montalban. She also toplined summer stock productions of The Sound of Music, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Hello, Dolly and Plaza Suite.
DeHaven played many guest-starring roles on TV, beginning in the halcyon days of live TV and on such shows as Robert Montgomery Presents, The Rifleman, The Defenders, Burke’s Law, Marcus Welby, M.D., Wagon Train and Gunsmoke.
Later in her career, she appeared on Fantasy Island, Quincy M.E., The Love Boat, Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote and Touched by an Angel.
In the late 1960s, she also hosted Prize Movie, a weekday morning series on WABC-TV in New York.
DeHaven was married four times, including once to actor John Payne (Miracle on 34th Street, Kansas City Confidential) and twice to businessman Richard Fincher. All her marriages ended in divorce.