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Juliet Anne Prowse (September 25, 1936 – September 14, 1996) was a South African dancer, whose four decade career included stage, television and film but dancing remained her true love. She was known for her striking beauty, sultry smile and famous long legs.

Early life

Prowse was born in Bombay, Indiamarker and raised in South Africa.

Prowse began studying dance at the age of four. In her early twenties she was dancing at a club in Parismarker when she was spotted by a talent agent and eventually signed to play the part of "Claudine" in the 1960 Walter Lang film, Can-Can.

Her dancing labeled "immoral" by Nikita Khrushchev

It was during the filming of "Can-Can" in 1959 that she captured the international spotlight. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited the set of the film and after Prowse performed a rather saucy can-can for the Russian leader, he proclaimed her dance "immoral." Little did Khrushchev know that he was a great press agent, because the publicity brought Prowse considerable attention in the United States. From there, her career took off.

Film and television career

She met Frank Sinatra on the set of Can-Can. Time magazine did not care for the movie but said the beautiful young dancer was the best thing in it: "In fact, the only thing really worth seeing is Juliet Prowse, a young South African hoofer who puts some twinkle in the stub-toed choreography. And the only thing really worth hearing is the crack that Frank flips back at Juliet when she whips a redoubtable hip in his direction. "Don't point," he gasps. "It's rude." She would go on to appear with him and other notable guests such as Ella Fitzgerald, Peter Lawford, Hermione Gingold, The Hi-Lo's, Red Norvo, Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra on the 1959, Frank Sinatra Show. She at times would sing in the chorus with other guests or Sinatra would adoringly sing to her.

Sinatra and Prowse announced their engagement in 1962. Soon afterwards, they called it quits. They broke up, according to publicity handouts, because Prowse wanted to concentrate on her career. Actually, she admitted: "I was as much flattered as I was in love. He (Sinatra) was a complex person, and after a few drinks he could be very difficult."

Prowse went on to co-star alongside Elvis Presley in G.I. Blues. During shooting of the film they had a short and intense fling. "Elvis and I had an affair.... We had a sexual attraction like two healthy young people, but he was already a victim of his fans. We always met in his room and never went out."

She starred in her own NBC sitcom for one season: 1965's Mona McCluskey, which was produced by George Burns. She also did other feature films, including The Fiercest Heart (1961) and Who Killed Teddy Bear? with Sal Mineo (1965).

Although her film and television career did not make her as big a star as predicted, Prowse had a rather philosophical way of looking at it. "Things generally happen for the best...I never worry about what happens in my career, because I can always do something else."Prowse would later go on to headline successful Las Vegas shows, commanding a very high salary. Stating that Las Vegas was the most demanding place she ever worked, she won Entertainer of the Year for the Vegas run of Sweet Charity. She would later show off her famous dancer's legs in a series of lucrative nationwide commercials for L’eggs.

Prowse was only the second guest to record an episode of The Muppet Show.

In the late 1970s, Prowse appeared in a book about Bikram Choudhury's yoga, performing some of the poses.

In the late '80s, she was mauled by an 80-pound leopard – twice. Once, while filming a scene for Circus of the Stars in 1989 and later that same year during a promotional stint, when the same leopard attacked her. The later attack was more serious, requiring upwards of 20 stitches to reattach her ear.

Throughout the mid 1980s and 1990s, Prowse hosted the Championship Ballroom Dance Competition on PBS.

Battle with cancer and death

In 1994, Prowse was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In 1995, she went into remission and was well enough to tour with Mickey Rooney in Sugar Babies. The cancer subsequently returned and she succumbed to the disease on September 14, 1996, two weeks before her sixtieth birthday.

She was survived by her son and her mother. Her ex-husband, TV actor John McCook, who is the father of her only child (Seth McCook), reconciled with her shortly before she died after many years of acrimony.



  1. The Guardian Obituary, September 16th 1996, By Ronald Bergan

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