Birthday: January 17, 1932
Died At Age: 73
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Dawn Shirley Crang, Dawn Shirley Bethel, Sherree Bessire
Born in: Los Angeles, California
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'4" (163 cm), 5'4" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Fred Bessire (m. 1948 – div. 1953), Gerhardt Sommer (m. 1958 – div. 1963), John Freeman (m. 1955 – div. 1956), Phillip Norman (m. 2003 – her death. 2005)
father: Richard Crang
mother: June Shoard
children: Dawn Bessire, Erica Eve Sommer
Died on: November 4, 2005
place of death: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
U.S. State: California
Cause of Death: Cancer
City: Los Angeles
Sheree North was an American actress, singer and dancer who was one of many blonde actresses signed and promoted by 20th Century Fox as the successor to the iconic 'blonde bombshell' Marilyn Monroe. North first trained as a dancer and later began acting in Broadway plays. During her four-year stint with Fox, she appeared in seven films: 'How to Be Very, Very Popular', 'The Lieutenant Wore Skirts', 'The Best Things in Life Are Free', 'The Way to the Gold', 'No Down Payment', 'In Love and War' and 'Mardi Gras'. She acted opposite Elvis Presley in the 1969 movie 'The Trouble with Girls'. During her later career, she became a successful television actor, working in several series like 'Ben Casey', 'Burke's Law', 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', 'Marcus Welby, M.D.' and 'Seinfeld'.
Childhood & Early Life
Sheree North was born as Dawn Shirley Crang on January 17, 1932, in Los Angeles, California, to June Shoard and Richard Crang. She became Dawn Shirley Bethel after her mother married Edward Bethel.
She began dancing at the age of six, giving her first performances in USO shows during World War II at 10. The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is a nonprofit charitable corporation that produces shows to entertain the US Armed Forces.
When North was 13, she lied about her age to get a job as a chorine at the Greek Theatre. She later sanded floors and parked cars to pay for her ballet lessons.
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Sheree North appeared in an uncredited role in 'Excuse My Dust' in 1951. However, she was noticed by choreographer Bob Alton while performing at the Macayo Club in Santa Monica, after which she was cast as a chorus girl in 'Here Come the Girls' (1953). She also acted in a live TV adaptation of Cole Porter's 1934 musical 'Anything Goes' on 'The Colgate Comedy Hour' in 1954.
She adopted the stage name 'Sheree North' and made her Broadway debut in the 1953 musical 'Hazel Flagg', which earned her a 'Theatre World Award' and a role in its 1954 film adaptation, 'Living It Up'. In 1954, 20th Century-Fox signed a four-year contract with her as a potential replacement for the increasingly unreliable Marilyn Monroe.
After her dance sequence in an old erotic film surfaced, Fox swooped in to convert the scandal into a publicity opportunity and cast her in the lead role opposite Betty Grable in the 1955 film 'How to Be Very, Very Popular'. She then featured on the cover of Life magazine as a potential successor to Monroe, before receiving praise for her electric dance number 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' in 'How to Be Very, Very Popular'. Her sequence became the film's most memorable scene.
Fox went on to promote North by pairing her opposite comedian Tom Ewell, who was Monroe’s co-star in the famous movie ‘The Seven Year Itch’. North and Ewell’s 1956 romantic comedy 'The Lieutenant Wore Skirts' became a commercial success, grossing over $2 million in the US. Her next appearance in the musical film 'The Best Things in Life Are Free' (1956) received favorable reviews from the critics despite its average box-office performance.
Fox sidelined her after hiring another blonde bombshell, Jayne Mansfield, following which North declined the lead role in 'The Girl Upstairs', prompting a temporary suspension from the studio. She later agreed to appear opposite Elvis Presley in 'The Way to the Gold', but Presley was replaced by Jeffrey Hunter following a salary dispute. There were frequent altercations on the set between her and the new male lead.
In 1957, North appeared opposite Tony Randall in the melodramatic film 'No Down Payment', which was a critical hit, but received a lukewarm response at the box-office. The following year, before her contract with Fox ended, she acted in the war drama movie 'In Love and War' and the musical 'Mardi Gras'.
In her later years, she became quite popular on television for her guest appearances on 'The Untouchables', 'Gunsmoke', 'Ben Casey', 'Burke's Law', 'The Virginian', 'The Big Valley', 'The Fugitive', ‘The Iron Horse’, 'Marcus Welby, M.D'., and 'Seinfeld'.
Some of her notable movies included the 1969 Elvis Presley-starrer 'The Trouble with Girls', 'Charley Varrick' (1973) 'The Outfit' (1973) and 'Lawman' (1971).
Sheree North is best remembered for her roles in films like 'How to Be Very, Very Popular', 'The Lieutenant Wore Skirts', 'The Way to the Gold', and 'The Trouble with Girls'. Her notable television appearances included 'Ben Casey', 'Burke's Law', 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', 'Marcus Welby, M.D'., and 'Seinfeld'.
Family & Personal Life
Sheree North got married for the first time in 1948, at the age of 16, to draftsman Fred Bessire, with whom she had a daughter named Dawn in 1949. Following their divorce in October 1953, she married television writer Bud Freeman in February 1955. They however got divorced in 1956.
She married psychologist Gerhardt Sommer in December 1958 and gave birth to her second daughter, Erica Eve, in 1959. Her third marriage also ended in a divorce in May 1963. She married her fourth husband Phillip Norman in 2003, and lived with him until her death in 2005. North passed away during a cancer surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on November 4, 2005.
Sheree North portrayed the role of Marilyn Monroe's unbalanced mother in the 1980 made-for-television film 'Marilyn: The Untold Story'.