Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017|2:20 p.m.
NEW YORK– Anne Jeffreys, the actress and opera vocalist who likely had her biggest effect on TELEVISION audiences as Marion Kerby “the ghostess with the mostess” in the 1950s TV series “Topper,” has passed away. She 94.
Jeffreys, whose spouse, star Robert Sterling, died in 2006, died peacefully in her sleep at her Los Angeles house on Wednesday night, her supervisor Don Gibble stated Thursday.
More recently, she invested two decades playing Amanda Barrington on “General Hospital” She was featured in the role of the wealthy on more than 350 episodes of the daytime drama from 1984 until 2004.
In “Topper,” she and Sterling starred as fun-loving husband and wife George and Marion Kerby who, after dying in a Swiss avalanche, return as ghosts to their mansion and comically haunt its new resident, actor Leo G. Carroll as staid banker Cosmo Topper.
Every week they were presented to viewers as George, “that most sporting spirit,” and Marion, “the ghostess with the mostess.”
They were among numerous differed roles in a long career in movies, television, opera and on Broadway for Jeffreys, who continued to work well into her 70s. Her last on-screen appearance was on the HBO series “Getting On.”
Early in her profession, she appeared opposite John Wayne in “Flying Tigers.” In later years, she appeared on such TV programs as “L.A. Law” and “Murder, She Composed” and played David Hasselhoff’s mom on “Baywatch.”
The blonde appeal with the lilting soprano voice started her carrying out career in 1940 with the New York City Opera, the Ford Symphony and the Los Angeles Opera Company, singing Mimi in “La Boheme” and Cho San in “Madame Butterfly.”
She had actually made her movie debut at MGM in 1942 in “I Married an Angel,” which marked the last costarring of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
Throughout a contract with Republic, she appeared with Wayne in “Flying Tigers” and made B westerns. Hughes signed her to an agreement at RKO and cast her in “Step Lively.”
In a 1993 interview, Jeffreys recalled Sinatra as “smart-alecky, little, skinny, wide-eyed,” including that although she was never brought in to him the two did become buddies.
“I have actually found the other side of Frank that a great deal of people do not know: his kindness and his taking care of individuals,” she explained.
Throughout her RKO days, Jeffreys appeared in 15 films, mostly B films. She made 2 movies in the 1940s as Tess Trueheart, girlfriend of sleuth Dick Tracy.
Seeing no future in Hollywood, Jeffreys went back to New York to appear in a musical variation of “Street Scene.” She continued in opera, light opera and musicals and played the lead in the visiting business of “Kiss Me Kate.” Later on, she changed Patricia Morison, the original Kate, in the Broadway production.
It was during the program’s New York run that she met the dashingly handsome Sterling, who was likewise starring in a New york city program. Their love was disrupted when he returned to Hollywood for such films as “The Sundowners” and “Program Boat.” They married in 1951.
In addition to “Topper,” Sterling and Jeffreys appeared in their own nightclub act and starred together in another TV series, “Love That Jill” which lasted for half a season in 1958.
Throughout her later profession Jeffreys divided her time in between tv and musical theater, singing on the Ed Sullivan and Perry Como shows and appearing on many sitcoms, dramas and soap operas.
Throughout one stressful duration in the 1980s she was featured on 2 TELEVISION series, the daytime soap “General Healthcare facility” and the prime-time drama “Finder of Lost Likes.”
Jeffreys also visited the nation in musical productions such as “Camelot,” “Bells Are Ringing,”” Kismet,” “Friend Joey,” “The King and I,” “The Sound of Music”
and “Follies.” She was born Anne Carmichael on Jan. 26, 1923, in Goldsboro, N.C.
. Her mom, who had aspired to be an opera vocalist, taught her child to sing at an early age, and at 5 Anne made her debut before a regional audience. After studying at Anderson College, S.C., she introduced her profession.
An early marriage ended in divorce, but the union with Sterling withstood up until his death. They had three children, Jeffreys, Dana and Tyler.
Sterling gave up acting in the 1970s for service ventures. A victim of shingles, he was bedridden the last 5 years of his life, passing away at age 88.
AP Home entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney and the late AP Entertainment Writer Bob Thomas added to this report.