A publicity photo of Ann Miller, listed on EBay for $28.88.
My friend Donna hates Ann Miller—hates her—so I apologize to Donna in advance for this piece. But I love Annie. She was bright and glittery and silly and unlike the accomplished and talented dancers Cyd Charisse and Eleanor Powell, Ann seemed to be having fun when she tapped—Cyd and Eleanor seemed more like straight-A students dutifully showing off for final exams.
I interviewed Ann Miller once, and she was just as daffy and off-the-wall as in her films, but she was sharp as a tack, too, when it came to analyzing her career and her sometimes rocky life.
Here is a 14-year-old Ann Miller hoofing with Ginger Rogers in Stage Door (1937—and if you have not yet seen that film, do. Now). Doesn’t she remind you a bit of a very young Liza Minnelli?
Now, we all know Ann’s amazing 1970 Great American Soups commercial, written by Stan Freberg and costarring the swell (and cute) character actor Dave Willock. But for industrial-strength late-career Annie, I give you what may very well be the campest four minutes ever broadcast on TV. From a 1982 Love Boat (costarring Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Van Johnson, Cab Calloway and Della Reese—are you still conscious?), Annie-Pie gives us possibly the drag-queeniest-ever rendition of Cole Porter’s “It’s Alright With Me”—and I mean that in the best possible sense:
Ann was the same age when she filmed that Love Boat as I am now. If I whipped off my skirt and danced on a table at a restaurant, chorus boys would not sing my praises, they would call Elder Services.