Birth Date: July 20, 1930 / Age: 86
Birth Place: London, England, UK
Biography: Sally Ann Howes is an actress born on July 20, 1930, in London, England to British comedian/actor/singer/variety star Bobby Howes (b. 1895, d. 1972) and actress/singer Patricia Malone (b. 1899, d. 1971). She is the granddaughter of Capt. J.A.E. Malone, theatrical director of musicals, and she an older brother, Peter Howes, who is a professional musician.
Sally Ann Howes got her first film audition on her 12th birthday and was cast in the title role of Thursday's Child (1943). A second film, The Halfway House (1944), led to her being put under contract by Michael Balcon of Ealing Studios, and this led to many other film roles as a child actress including Dead of Night (1945) with Sir Michael Redgrave, Pink String and Sealing Wax (1946), Nicholas Nickleby (1947), My Sister and I (1948), Anna Karenina (1948), opposite Vivian Leigh. At age 18 she was given a new, seven-year contract, this time by J. Arthur Rank, and she went on to make the films, Stop Press Girl (1949), The History of Mr. Polly (1949) opposite John Mills, Fools Rush In (1949), and Due mogli sono troppe (1950) aka Honeymoon Deferred (UK). In 1950 her contract with Rank was terminated, and unhappy with the films and being on "loan out" with Rank, she refused to ever be under studio contract again. Her career was moving in other media directions anyhow, and she was finding gainful employment in television and radio, and she was looking to flex her singing talent, something that both Balcon and Rank had overlooked. While still in her teens, she made her first musical-comedy appearence in Fancy Free. In late 1950 starred in a BBC TV version of Cinderella.
Married for the first time at age 19 to American actor Maxwell Koker, who was starring in Oklahoma!, the brief marriage was unhappy and ended in divorce.
In 1951 she began her professional musical stage career in Glasgow, Scotland, in the Sandy Wilson musical, Caprice in the revue that toured the British Isles for six months. This was followed by Bet Your Life opposite Julie Wilson, Arthur Askey and Brian Reece. She was also simultaneously on the radio with Arthur Askey and Brian Reece. In 1953 she starred on the West End in Paint Your Wagon with her father, Bobby Howes. The show ran for 18 months. It was followed by Summer Song, also on the West End, and she had firmly established herself as a leading musical comedy star on the West End.
At age 25 she met and became engaged to British photographer, Baron, but before they could marry, he died in September 1956, an event she describes briefly in the book, ESP and the Stars by Dick Kleiner.
She took a short break from the stage to film the popular The Admirable Crichton (1957). She also had her own TV series during the time called The Sally Ann Howes Show. In late 1957 she was offered the part (for the third time) of taking over for Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady on Broadway. She accepted, but at a higher salary than Julie. Before she began the role, however, she married composer Richard Adler (Pajama Game, Damn Yankees), and then as a newlywed began her run on Broadway where she became an instant hit as a very fiery Eliza Doolittle. Americans fell in love with her and she appeared on on many TV shows including Perry Como, Dinah Shore, Jack Paar, The Tonight Show, plus appearing in The Bell Telephone Hour, The Kraft Music Hall, The United States Steel Hour. She appeared on Ed Sullivan's show four times, sang for three US Presidents, and was hugely popular. She was also a frequent guest on game shows and was known for her quick, spontaneous answers.
After her leaving My Fair Lady, she returned to England to tape six one-hour variety shows entitled The Sally Ann Howes Show for the British commercial television network.
She returned to Broadway in 1961 in the short run of Richard Adler's Kwamina, which was written for her, and in 1963 she starred in a short revival of the musical Brigadoon and received a Tony nomination, the first performer to be nominated for a revial performance. In 1964 she starred opposite Robert Alda and Steve Lawrence in the energetic What Makes Sammy Run?, which lasted for over 500 performances.
She returned to familiar territory on TV in 1966 with Brigadoon opposite her Broadway cast, and it became a huge hit on television, garnering seven Emmy awards. She and Adler were divorced around this time.
Also in the 1950's and 1960's she was personally requested to sing for three US Presidents at the White House - Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson.
In 1967 she began the long film shoot for what would become a celebrated children's classic, and a role for which she would achieve new and everlasting fame, that of Truly Scrumptious in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). The film went way over budget but was a smashing hit and a marketing phenomenon. The movie did not, however, launch a new career for her in episodic television despite several guest-starring attempts and even the pilot Prudence and the Chief which was a spoof on The King and I. Also, musicals were now failing at the box office and that venue was closed for her. As a result, she returned almost exclusively to the musical stage, appearing in only a few more films/TV productions. Her last film was the 1992 miniseries "Judith Krantz's Secrets." That marked her 50th year in film.
In the late 1960's she was briefly engaged to actor Jeffrey Hunter, but he married a former co-star from his soap opera days. Unfortunately he died only a few months later.
Except for occasional lectures, charity functions and some Broadway openings, she is mostly retired (as of 2005). She has been married to Douglas Rae for more than 30 years.