June Allyson, the sunny, cracked-voiced "perfect wife" of James Stewart, Van Johnson and other movie heroes, has died, her daughter Pamela Allyson Powell said Monday. She was 88.
Allyson died Saturday at her home in Ojai, with her husband of nearly 30 years, David Ashrow, at her side, 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, supporting and unthreatening.
"I had the most wonderful last meeting with June at her house in Ojai. We had gotten lost in the car. She told me: `I could wait for you forever.' We were such dear friends. I will miss her," lifelong friend Esther Williams said.
With typical wonderment, Allyson expressed surprise in a 1986 interview that she had ever become a movie star: