EXPIRED: 03/28/10 – June Havoc, 97, was an actress who started in vaudeville as Baby June and who was immortalized in the musical “Gypsy.”
While she never reached the fame of her sister Louise, better known as famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, Havoc had a somewhat successful theater career that stretched nearly 8 decades.
“Gypsy” – which opened on Broadway starring Ethyl Merman – focused on the archetypal stage mother, Mama Rose, who ferociously pushes her daughter “Baby June” into vaudeville stardom at age 6 while her older sister struggles to compete.
The play was based on Louise’s memoir. Havoc made no effort to obstruct the show, though she detested it.
“I loved my sister,” she once said, “but I loathed her life.”
Havoc herself led the life of baby June. At 18 months she was dancing in vaudeville and appearing in movie comedy shorts, earning $1,500 a week when she was only 6 years old.
To escape the rigors of vaudeville, she married at 13 years old.
Her acting career took off but in mostly B movies and after a series of marriages and she turned to writing plays and memoirs. One, a play she directed in 1963 called “Marathon ’33,” garnered her a Tony nomination as best director. She also regularly performed on and off Broadway.
Her last Broadway appearance was in the early 1980s, one of the many replacements as the evil Miss Hannigan in “Annie.”