Dancer-Actress Ann Miller Dies at Age 81
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Ann Miller, the whirlwind Hollywood hoofer and comic actress who co-starred with such dancing greats as Fred Astaire in “Easter Parade,” Gene Kelly in “On the Town” and Bob Fosse in “Kiss Me Kate,” died on Thursday at age 81, a spokeswoman said.

Miller, whose last screen performance was her featured role as the landlady Catherine “Coco” Lenoix in David Lynch’s bizarre 2001 mystery “Mulholland Dr.,” died of lung cancer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, her longtime publicist Esme Chandlee said.
“She was a much better actress than people gave her credit for because she was always singing and dancing,” Chandlee told Reuters.
While never quite reaching the lofty star status of contemporaries like Ginger Rogers or Cyd Charisse, the leggy, raven-haired Miller established herself as a second lead in a string of memorable Hollywood musicals during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.
Her film career faded by 1956, but she continued to perform in nightclubs, on television and on stage into the 1990s. In 1969, she became one of the stars to succeed Angela Lansbury in the title role of “Mame” on Broadway, and returned to the Great White Way a decade later with Mickey Rooney in the musical “Sugar Babies.”
Born and raised in Texas, Miller began dancing at age 5 as therapy for a childhood case of rickets, and signed her first Hollywood contract with RKO as a teenager in the 1930s.
Winning notice as Ginger Rogers’ dancing partner in the 1937 film “Stage Door,” she landed supporting roles in a string of movies through the remainder of the decade, including “Room Service” with the Marx Brothers in 1938.
In the early 1940s, she set a record for the fastest tap dancing, producing more than 500 tap sounds per minute. In 1948, she signed with MGM and danced with Fred Astaire in her first film for that studio, “Easter Parade.”
She co-starred with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett the following year in “On the Town” and played Lois Lane “Bianca” in the 1953 film version of “Kiss Me Kate,” the musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” co-starring Bob Fosse, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel.
Miller remained active in show business well into her 70s, playing Carlotta Campion and belting out “I’m Still Here” in a 1998 Paper Mill Playhouse revival of “Follies.” The following year, she took a part in the Lynch-directed TV pilot for “Mulholland Dr.,” which was turned into a feature film and released in 2001 after ABC passed on the series.