Yes, she was famed ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee’s sister, and yes she was Baby June, but June Havoc (seen above with Alan Ladd and below with Dennis O’Keefe) had quite a career in films as well as on Broadway.
Here she is posing with her big sister.
The two were pushed by their overbearing mother into show biz careers early. Havoc, born Ellen June Hovick in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1912, started making real money as a child performer, appearing in vaudeville and movie shorts before she was six years old.
The character of “Mama Rose” — actually Rose Thompson Hovick — was, of course, played memorably by Ethel Merman in the hit 1959 Broadway musical, Gypsy.
It turns out that “Mama Rose” was mentally ill, believed Havoc (who died in 2010 at age 97). The two girls were denied schooling, doctors and dentists and were taught to distrust men. “Their mother pitted them against one another and taught them to trust no one but her,” writes author Karen Abbott, the author of the 2010 biography, American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare — The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee.
While Gypsy Rose Lee was the most sensationally famous of the two, Havoc’s career was far longer (Lee died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 59) and far more varied. She is credited in all with nearly 60 film and tv appearances ending in 1989 (on tv in Murder, She Wrote), an output nearly equaled by her myriad stage performances.
Among her movie roles was one was squaring off with Gregory Peck in 1947’s Gentleman’s Agreement…..
…and a solid supporting role in 1942’s My Sister Eileen (that’s June on the left, Rosalind Russell in the middle and Janet Blair to the right)…
…and, finally, June as a burlesque practitioner opposite Joe E. Brown in Republic Pictures’ 1944 comedy — discussed in yesterday’s blog — Casanova In Burlesque.