Francine York, Alluring Actress of the 1960s, Dies at 80
The Hollywood Reporter 1/6/2017 by Mike Barnes
Francine York, the statuesque actress who showed off her sexuality as The Bookworm’s moll on Batman and in such films as It’s Only Money, Cannon for Cordoba and The Doll Squad, has died. She was 80.
A native of Aurora, Minn., York appeared in scores of TV shows, from Rescue 8 in 1959 to The Mindy Project in 2015. She played a seductive Venus de Milo on an episode of Bewitched, a bake-off contestant on The Odd Couple and an ex-prostitute/blackmailer on Days of Our Lives. She also appeared in five different roles on Burke’s Law, a series renowned for featuring gorgeous guest-stars.
York was memorable as the willowy Lydia Limpet, the henchwoman of The Bookworm (Roddy McDowall), in a first-season installment of ABC’s Batman in 1966. She uses a boring book to lure Robin to sleep and gets to ride in the Batmobile. The Doll Squad (1973) saw her fronting a team of gorgeous female assassins aiming to stop a megalomaniac (Michael Ansara) from destroying the world. Many see that movie as the precursor to Charlie’s Angels. York’s other notable film appearances include Bedtime Story (1964), opposite Marlon Brando and David Niven, and Elvis Presley’s Tickle Me (1965).
At age 17, the 5-foot-8 York was runner-up in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant. She toured the U.S. modeling in department stores and landed in Northern California, where she finished second in the Miss San Francisco contest. York was working as a showgirl at the popular Moulin Rouge nightclub on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood when she decided to purse acting. She studied under Jeff Corey and Jack Kosslyn and spotted by a producer who cast her as a duplicitous magazine editor in her film debut, Secret File: Hollywood (1962).
York attracted the attention of Lewis, who put her in It’s Only Money (1962) and then in small roles in his films The Nutty Professor (1963), The Patsy (1964), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), The Family Jewels (1965) and Cracking Up (1983), in which she played a 15th century noblewoman.
York also was known as a gourmet cook and fitness and nutrition expert who hosted lavish parties in Hollywood. She was the decade-long companion of director Vincent Sherman (The Young Philadelphians) until his death in 2006.
A memorial celebration (and a screening of The Doll Squad) is set for 2 p.m. on April 23 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.