The Tombs of Kobol honors the perennially beautiful Anne Francis for her role as Altaira Morbius in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet.

Anne's film career was already a decade old when she was cast as the daughter of Dr. Edward Morbius, but she was already a showbiz oldtimer, having been a child model at age six and a Broadway veteran by 12.

MGM had put her under contract immediately after WWII - but failed to find the right vehicle for her talent, giving her otherwise forgettable roles in minor films. She ultimately returned to New York and began concentrating on television, making a mark during the "Golden Age" of live drama presentations. Daryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox saw her and wound up signing her - but although the film roles she got were meatier and more promising than before, she still seemed typecast as the ingénue, emphasizing her glamour rather than her acting abilities.

Although she made every role she played memorable, she never really broke free of that. Regrettably, Forbidden Planet was not really an exception. She played a girl whose main companion was an extremely versatile robot called Robby - who would arguably become a bigger star than much of the rest of the cast.

Altaira (or Alta) was a naive young woman raised in an amazing degree of comfort in an almost completely automated house, while her father studied an ancient, highly advanced alien computer capable of inserting knowledge directly into the brain - and, ultimately, far more. Aside from Robby the Robot, Altaira's most frequent companions were animals kept in her garden - tigers, birds, that kind of thing - that she had an almost supernatural control over.

Enter the crew of the Spaceship C57D, dispatched to Altaire IV to investigate why the colony of scientists on that planet had fallen silent 20 years before. They find Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter to be the only survivors of that colony. The crew are the first men Altaira has ever seen, and she is understandably intrigued - particularly once she sets eyes on the Commander, J.J. Adams, played by Leslie Nielsen (later of Airplane!, and Detective Sgt. Lt. Drebin of Police Squad! and the Smoking Gun movies) and, of course, falls in love with him.

It was when her father realized what was happening that the wheels began to come off - and the movie itself hit its stride. The film certainly deserves its place as classic sci-fi.

After Forbidden Planet came other roles, and a focus on television, including a stint as "Honey West" (1965), an Emma Peel-like detective; the Aaron Spelling-produce show didn't last long but is considered a cult hit. She guest-starred on any number of shows; it is said that her "character" years were strong and varied, which might have made up a little bit for the typecasting of her earlier career (see her IMDb page here.)

Her life away from the camera was filled with 2 daughters (one adopted), church, and charitable work.

Anne Francis died on January 2, 2011 at the age of 80, from complications of lung and pancreatic cancer. She leaves behind a legacy of almost 60 years of memorable movies and television appearances. We at the Tombs of Kobol salute her for that, and for being an indispensable part of a science fiction classic.

 

 

 

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