in Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
|Born||Ellen Evangeline Hovick
November 8, 1913
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Occupation||Actress, Dancer, Writer, Director|
June Havoc (born November 8, 1913) is an American actress, dancer, writer, and theater director. Havoc was a child vaudeville performer under the tutelage of her mother. She later acted on Broadway and in Hollywood, and stage directed (both on and off-Broadway). She last appeared on television in 1990, on General Hospital. She resides in Wilton, Connecticut.
She was born Ellen Evangeline Hovick in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She was actually born in 1913 rather than 1916, which is usually cited as her year of birth. June Havoc's show business career began in her early childhood as "Baby June." Her older sister, Rose Louise Hovick, best known as Gypsy Rose Lee, was known as Louise to her family. Their mother was Rose Thompson Hovick and their father was Norwegian-American John Olaf Hovick, a newspaper advertising man.
Following their parents' divorce the two sisters earned the family's money by appearing in vaudeville where June's talent shone while Louise stood in the background. June, in December 1928 eloped with Bobby Reed, a boy in the act. Rose had Bobby arrested and he was met at the police station by Rose carrying a hidden gun. She pulled the trigger but the safety was on and Bobby was freed. June left the act and married Bobby. According to June's two autobiographical books, "Early Havoc" and "More Havoc," the marriage didn't last but the two remained on friendly terms whenever they bumped into each other. By 17 she had an affair with an older married man, Jamie Smythe who was a big-time marathon promoter. He fathered her only child, April, circa 1935. Louise gravitated to burlesque, taking the name Gypsy Rose Lee.
June, adopting the name June Havoc, got her first acting break on Broadway in Sigmund Romberg's Forbidden Melody in 1936. She would later star in Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey, and moved on to Hollywood roles in such movies as Gentleman's Agreement. She married for a second time in 1935 to Donald S. Gibbs and a third time, in 1949, to William Spier.
June and Gypsy continued to get demands for money from their mother who had opened a lesbian boardinghouse in a ten-room apartment on West End Avenue in New York City, the property rented for her by Gypsy and a farm in Highland Mills, New York. Rose shot and killed one of her guests (who, according to Erik Preminger, Gypsy's son, was Rose's lover who had made a pass at Gypsy). The incident was explained away as a suicide and Rose was not prosecuted.
Rose died in 1954 of colon cancer. The sisters then were free to write about her without risking a lawsuit. Gypsy's memoirs, titled Gypsy, were published in 1957, and were taken as inspirational material for the Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents classic Broadway musical Gypsy: A Musical Fable. June did not like the way she was portrayed in the piece but was eventually persuaded not to oppose it for her sister's sake. The play also sparked such famous songs as "Small World", "Together Wherever We Go" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses". The play and the subsequent movie deal assured Gypsy a steady income. Gypsy Rose Lee died of cancer in 1970. June wrote two memoirs Early Havoc and More Havoc. She also wrote a play entitled Marathon '33 (based on her memoir Early Havoc); the play starred Julie Harris and had a brief run on Broadway.
June Havoc was nominated for a Tony Award for best director in 1964, for Marathon '33, which she also wrote. The June Havoc Theatre, housed at the Abingdon Theatre in New York, was named for her in 2003.