- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) — June Allyson, the sunny, raspy-voiced “perfect wife” of James Stewart, Van Johnson and other movie heroes, has died, her daughter said yesterday. She was 88.

Miss Allyson died Saturday at her home in Ojai, with her husband of nearly 30 years, David Ashrow, at her side, Pamela Allyson Powell said. She died of pulmonary respiratory failure and acute bronchitis after a long illness.

During World War II, American GIs pinned up photos of Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable, but June Allyson was the girl they wanted to come home to. Petite, blond and alive with fresh-faced optimism, she seemed the ideal sweetheart and wife, supportive and unthreatening.

“I had the most wonderful last meeting with June at her house. … We were such dear friends. I will miss her,” lifelong friend Esther Williams said.

With typical wonderment, Miss Allyson expressed surprise in a 1986 interview that she had ever become a movie star:

“I have big teeth. I lisp. My eyes disappear when I smile. My voice is funny. I don’t sing like Judy Garland. I don’t dance like Cyd Charisse. But women identify with me. And while men desire Cyd Charisse, they’d take me home to meet Mom.”

Miss Allyson’s real life belied the sunshiny image she presented in films of the 1940s and 1950s. As she revealed in her 1982 autobiography, she had an alcoholic father and was raised by a single mother in the Bronx, N.Y. Her “ideal marriage” to actor-director Dick Powell was beset with frustrations.

After Mr. Powell’s cancer death in 1963, she battled breakdowns, alcoholism and a disastrous second marriage. She credited her recovery to Mr. Ashrow, her third husband.

In her first starring role, MGM’s 1944 “Two Girls and a Sailor,” her winsome beauty and bright personality connected with U.S. servicemen. She starred in “Music for Millions,” “The Sailor Takes a Wife,” “Two Sisters from Boston” and “Good News.” Miss Allyson appeared opposite Mr. Johnson in several films, and she was Mr. Stewart’s wife in “The Stratton Story,” “The Glenn Miller Story” and “Strategic Air Command.”

Besides Mr. Ashrow and her children by Mr. Powell, Pamela and Richard Powell, Miss Allyson is survived by her brother, Dr. Arthur Peters, and her grandson, Richard Logan Powell.

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