A popular '50s and '60s singer, actress, and dancer, Mitzi Gaynor was recognized for not only her singing and dancing abilities but also her bright-eyed personality and chirpy charm. She brought zest and vivacity to all the Broadway shows and films she starred in. Known for her dancing techniques, she starred with such singing and dancing greats as Bing Crosby in Anything Goes, Frank Sinatra in The Joker Is Wild, and Gene Kelly in Les Girls. Her career has spanned all media, including films, television specials, and Broadway, and she continues to sing and dance on the nightclub circuit.
Born Franceska Mitzi Marlene de Charney von Gerber in Chicago on September 4, 1930, Mitzi Gaynor is said to be of Hungarian ancestry. Her mother was a ballerina and greatly influenced Mitzi to pursue dancing at the age of four. At the tender age of 12, she became a member of the corps de ballet of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. After performing in many plays and musicals she finally made her professional acting debut in 1950 when she starred in the film My Blue Heaven. She also signed with the Fox studio in 1950, making numerous musicals such as Bloodhounds of Broadway, Down Among the Sheltering Ponds, and Take Care of My Little Girl. However, many of these films were unsuccessful, and the Fox studio dropped Mitzi in 1954.
After a temporary setback in the acting profession, Mitzi Gaynor met talent agent Jack Bean and married him in 1954. With a talent agent for a husband, her performing career took off once again. She began starring again on Broadway in such hits as There's No Business Like Show Business, The Birds and the Bees, and Anything Goes. Those successes on Broadway and performing with many great leading men led producer Joshua Logan to choose Mitzi to star in his screen version of South Pacific in 1958. She performed in her last film, For Love or Money, in 1963. During the '60s and '70s, Mitzi Gaynor performed in several successful musical television specials.
Although her career was a roller coaster ride of films and television specials, her boisterous personality exists in the success of several Broadway musicals. Her nightclub performances and singing debuts remain a large part of her career. ~ Kim Summers