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Forbidden Planet star Francis dies

Anne Francis, the love interest in 1950s science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and later sexy TV private eye Honey West, has died.

Francis, 80, died on Sunday at a Santa Barbara, California, nursing home, said Bill Guntle, a funeral director at the McDermott-Crockett & Associates Mortuary.

Francis, who had surgery and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, died of complications of pancreatic cancer, her daughter, Jane Uemura, told the Los Angeles Times.

The stunningly beautiful blonde with a prominent beauty mark appeared opposite such stars as Spencer Tracy, Paul Newman, Robert Taylor and Glenn Ford in some of the most popular films of the 1950s. But Forbidden Planet and Honey West made her reputation.

Forbidden Planet was hailed in Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide as "one of the most ambitious and intelligent films of its genre".

A science fiction retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, the 1956 film had Leslie Nielsen and other space travellers visiting a planet where expatriate scientist Walter Pidgeon, his daughter (Francis) and their helper, Robby the robot, built a settlement.

Before filming began the actors held a meeting and agreed "to be as serious about this film as we could be", Francis said in a 1999 interview.

"We could have hammed it up, but we wanted to be as sincere as we could," she said.

In Honey West, shown from 1965 to 1966, Francis' private detective character - who kept a pet ocelot - was a female James Bond - sexy, stylish and as good with martial arts as she was with a gun. She was nominated for an Emmy for the role, which lasted 30 episodes.

"A lot of people speak to me about Honey West," Francis recalled. "The character made young women think there was more they could reach for. It encouraged a lot of people."

© Press Association