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Sheree North

Updated on June 2, 2016
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I'm a fan of classic TV shows and films. My articles focus on the character actors and actress who usually played supporting roles.

Bio Stats

Born: 17 January 1933 (Los Angeles, California, USA)

Died: 4 November 2005 (Los Angeles, California, USA)

Cause of Death: Complications following surgery

Film and TV Appearances: 118+

Years Active: 1951 - 1998

Award Nominations: 3 (1 win)

Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980)

as Doris Brown in the episode "A Hawaiian Nightmare" (season 7)
as Doris Brown in the episode "A Hawaiian Nightmare" (season 7)

Early Life

Sheree North was born Dawn Bethel (or Dawn Shirley Crang - depending on the source) to a single mother who was a seamstress on 17 January 1933. She began dancing from an early age and at one point had hopes of becoming a ballerina but decided for paying jobs instead.

During World War Two she danced with USO shows and she became a regular, at the age of 13 in the chorus line at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

When she was 15 years old she got married for the first time and she was a mother by the time she was 16. She continued to dance under the name of Shirley Mae Bessire performing in nightclubs.

In 1953, she was spotted at a Santa Monica nightclub by dance director Robert Alton and was subsequently cast in the Broadway play Hazel Flagg. Eventually, she signed a contract in February 1954 with Twentieth Century Fox (which ended in 1958), who groomed her as glamour girl with the intention of using her as a replacement for a troublesome Marilyn Monroe.

On March 21 1955, she featured on the cover of "Life" magazine.

Film

After making her debut in an uncredited role in 1951's Excuse My Dust, she appeared in two more movies in minor roles before receiving her first starring role in How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955).

Some of the other films she appeared in were The Lieutenant Wore Skirts (1956); No Down Payment (1957); Mardi Gras (1958); Destination Inner Space (1966); Madigan (1968); The Trouble with Girls (1969); Lawman (1971); Charley Varrick (1973); Breakout (1975); The Shootist (1976); Telefon (1977); Rabbit Test (1978); Once in a Lifetime (1979); Maniac Cop (1988); Cold Dog Soup (1990); Defenseless (1991); and Susan's Plan (1988).

The Best Things in Life are Free (1956)

Television

North made her television debut on The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1954 as herself. She made numerous appearances on variety shows before getting her first acting role in Playhouse 90 in 1957.

Television shows she starred on or had a regular role in were...

  • Big Eddie (1975) as Honey Smith
  • I'm a Big Girl Now (1980-1981) as Edie McKendrick
  • Bay City Blues (1983) as Lynn Holtz

Some of the made for television movies she appeared in were Code Name: Heraclitus (1967); Vanished (1971); Trouble Comes to Town (1973); Key West (1973); Winter Kill (1974); A Shadow in the Streets (1975); The Night They Took Miss Beautiful (1976); Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill (1979); Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980); Legs (1983); Scorned and Swindled (1984); and Dead on the Money (1991).

TV shows she guest starred on included The Untouchables; Gunsmoke; Breaking Point; Ben Casey; Burke's Law; The Virginian; Theatre of Stars; The Fugitive; Alias Smith and Jones; The Streets of San Francisco; Kojak; Movin' On; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Medical Center; Westside Medical; Archie Bunker's Place; Matlock; Hunter; The Golden Girls and Seinfeld.

The Big Valley (1965-1969)

as Libby Matthews in the episode "The Man from Nowhere" (season 2)
as Libby Matthews in the episode "The Man from Nowhere" (season 2)

Stage and Awards

Throughout her career, North appeared in many stage plays. Some of these plays were I Can Get It for You Wholesale (Broadway, 1962); Dutchman; Can-Can; Bye Bye Birdie; The Madwoman of Chaillot; Breaking Up the Act; and The Glass Menagerie (Laguna Playhouse, 2000).

During her career, she was nominated for a number of awards, one of which she won...

  • 1952-53: Theatre World Award for the musical Hazel Flagg (as jitterbug dancer, Whitey).
  • 1976: Primetime Emmy Award (Nomination) for Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series as June Monica in the episode "How Do You Know What Hurts Me?" - Marcus Welby M.D.
  • 1980: Primetime Emmy Award (Nomination) for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series as Dotty Wertz in Archie Bunker's Place.

Even today, there's still the same reaction when producers hear my name. They remember me as the blonde who was to have taken over from Marilyn Monroe.

— Sheree North (1983)

North was married four times...

  • Fred Bessire 1948 - 1953 (daughter - Dawn)
  • Bud Freeman 1955 - 1957
  • Gerhardt Sommer 1958 - 1963 (daughter - Erica Eve)
  • Phillip Norman 2003 - 2005

Sheree North died on 4 November 2005 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following an operation. She was survived by her fourth husband and her two daughters from previous marriages.

The Best Things in Life are Free (1956)

The Best Things In Life Are Free
The Best Things In Life Are Free

Sheree North starred as Kitty Kane

 

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