‘Doll Squad’ And 60’s Starlet, Francine York Has Passed On, Aged 80 [Video]

Jordan StraussAP Images

Francine York, a memorable guest star in many TV shows like Batman and movies like The Doll Squad has passed on. The Doll Squad saw York hold her own as part of a team of beautiful female assassins out to stop an evil genius from destroying the world. The cult movie gave birth to a new genre, where women were no longer seen as hapless females. Many people believe that Charlie’s Angels drew inspiration from the 1973 movie.

According to Deadline,Francine York died Friday morning at Valley Presbyterian Hospital after battling cancer. Her friend and television producer, Pepper Jay, confirmed her death in a Facebook post. She was 80-years-old. York also starred in Bedtime Story in 1964 opposite Marlon Brando and David Niven. She was in Tickle Me in 1965 alongside Elvis Presley. Francine York put in a stellar performance as Marilyn Munroe in Marilyn: Alive and Behind Bars in 1992. The actress who has more than 150 TV shows and movies to her credit also played Nicholas Cage’s mother-in-law in The Family Man.

York played minor but memorable roles in a string of classic Jerry Lewis comedies, including It’s Only Money, The Nutty Professor, The Patsy, The Disorderly Orderly, Family Jewels and Cracking Up. She also had guest appearances in Hot in Cleveland and The Mindy Project in 2015. Francine York will be fondly remembered as a guest-star queen on sitcoms and drama from the ’60s and into the ’70s. Before that she played a princess opposite her idol, Shirley Temple, in NBC’s The Little Mermaid for the anthology series Shirley Temple’s Storybook in 1961.

In ABC’s Batman in 1966, she played Lydia Limpet, the moll of Bookworm, played by Roddy McDowall. She uses a boring book to put Robin to sleep and takes the Batmobile for a spin. She was the sexy alien in Lost in Space, the Venus statue that comes to life in Bewitched. She also put in appearances in Green Acres, My Favorite Martian, The Wild, Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and Land of the Giants

A source speaking to Variety, revealed Francine York was born Francine Yerich and grew up in Aurora, Minnesota, and Cleveland where she started cutting her acting teeth in school plays. At age 17, she emerged runner-up in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant which took her Northern California, where she finished second in the Miss San Francisco contest. She began dancing as a showgirl in San Francisco before leaving for the City of Angeles, where she continued work at the popular Moulin Rouge nightclub.

She left that when she decided to pursue an acting career, learning under Jack Kosslyn and Jeff Corey. In 1962, she made her film debut, playing a dishonest magazine editor in Secret File: Hollywood. She rose up the acting ladder when Jerry Lewis cast her in It’s Only Money, and she followed it up with five more Jerry Lewis movies. According to the Aurora native, she was getting roles because of her looks, but eventually surprised studios when she showed she could act as well.

Francine also had guest starring roles in TV series like Slattery’s People, Hawaiian Eye, Death Valley Days, Ironside, Mission Impossible, Matlock, Kojak, American Style, Love, The King of Queens, Perry Mason, Lois and Clark, Beverly Hills 90210, Police Story and Route 66. She also starred as a blackmailer and ex-prostitute in Days of Our Lives. York had no problem acting bit part roles. In an interview, she queried, “Why can’t I play the girl next door?”

York, a popular gourmet cook and fitness and nutrition expert played hostess and chef at top-drawer parties in Hollywood. She has appeared on many culinary shows and developed recipes and fitness programs which have featured in national health magazines. She never married. Her partner of 10 years, director Vincent Sherman, died in 2006. She is survived by her nieces, a nephew, grandnieces and a grandnephew.

She was writing her autobiography when she passed on.

[Featured Image by Jordan Strauss/AP Images]