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"Best laid plans of mice and men.
I don't know where it's from, but I know it's true!"

- as Lydia Limpet, in Batman, While Gotham City Burns (1966)

In 1968) York co-starred in a pilot for a proposed NBC adventure series called "City Beneath the Sea" which featured Glenn Corbett and Lloyd Bochner. The series was rejected, but the concept was recast and became a television movie (City Beneath the Sea (1971) with Stuart Whitman in the starring role.

Francine York was born in the small mining town of Aurora, Minnesota to her parents, Frank and Sophie Yerich. When York was five, her family (including her younger sister, Deanne) moved to Cleveland, where she began to write short stories and take an interest in acting. At age nine, she made her theatrical debut in the Hodge Grammar School production of Cinderella, playing Griselda. Initially quite upset that she did not get the starring role, Francine ended up stealing the show with her performance as the evil stepsister. Right after the show, she ran into the audience and told her mother that she wanted to be an actress.

When York was age 12, the family moved back to Aurora, where she continued to perform in class plays, as well as writing, producing, directing and starring in a three-act play called "Keen Teens or Campus Quarantine". Francine, displaying an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, charging five cents admission to the show.

While studying journalism and drama at Aurora High School, York worked as the feature editor of the school newspaper, Aurora Borealis, and she won all of the school's declamation contests with her dramatic readings. Additionally, she was the baton-twirling majorette for the school band, and active in the 4-H club, where she won several blue ribbons for cooking in both county and state fairs. This proved to be valuable experience later on, when she would not only host, but do all of the gourmet cooking for dinner parties for some of Hollywood's biggest names.

At age 17, York won the Miss Eveleth contest (Eveleth being a nearby town), and became a runner-up in the Miss Minnesota contest, which was hosted by former Miss America BeBe Shopp. For the talent portion of the Miss Minnesota pageant, York, who was not afraid to be less than glamorous during a performance, donned some old clothes, removed her makeup, grayed her hair, and performed a reading of a monologue called "The Day That Was That Day" by Amy Lowell, in which she played a dual role of two elderly Southern women. BeBe Shopp encouraged York in her theatrical ambitions, and predicted that she would end up in Hollywood. At this point, however, Hollywood was still a dream for York, who wanted desperately to leave Minnesota and make her mark in show business.

Moving to Minneapolis, York got a job modeling sweaters for New York-based Jane Richards Sportswear and began traveling throughout the United States, ending up in San Francisco. After leaving Jane Richards, she began a modeling course at the House of Charm agency, which started her off on a very successful modeling career for all of the major department stores, including Macy's. Her modeling work got the attention of the producers of the Miss San Francisco beauty pageant, which she subsequently entered and was voted runner-up, but ended up taking over the title after the winner became too sick to participate. Soon after, York got a job as a showgirl at Bimbo's, a well-known San Francisco nightclub, which was highly disapproved of by her modeling agency, but this turned out to be the right choice for York when she met Bimbo's headliner, singer Mary Meade French, who brought her to Hollywood and, later, got her signed with her first agent.

Arriving in Los Angeles, York once again found herself working as a showgirl at Frank Sennes' Moulin Rouge, a popular nightclub on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, where she performed in three shows a night, seven nights a week for six months. Tired of sharing a stage with elephants, pigeons and horses, she moved on to pursue her acting career and began study with famed actor/teacher Jeff Corey. While performing in Corey's class, York was spotted by a theatrical producer, who cast her in a play called "Whisper in God's Ear" at the Circle Theatre. During this time, the same producer gave York her very first movie role, starring in Secret File: Hollywood (1962), a film about the day-to-day operations of a sleazy Hollywood tabloid. The movie premiered in York's hometown of Aurora, which gave her the biggest thrill of her life as the whole town, the press, her family, friends, and even the high school band turned out at the airport to greet her with banners proclaiming, "Welcome Home, Francine!"

York's first big break came when Jerry Lewis cast her in his film It's Only Money (1962), in which she played a tantalizing sexpot, a role which brought her a tremendous amount of publicity. This led to Lewis hiring her for five more of his films, including The Nutty Professor (1963), The Patsy (1964), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), The Family Jewels (1965) and Cracking Up (1983), in which she played a fifteenth century marquise. Other notable film appearances include Bedtime Story (1964) (with Marlon Brando and David Niven), Tickle Me (1965) (with Elvis Presley), Cannon for Cordoba (1970) (with George Peppard), and science fiction cult films Curse of the Swamp Creature (1968), Mutiny in Outer Space (1965) and Space Probe Taurus (1965).

York's most popular film was the cult classic The Doll Squad (1973), where she played Sabrina Kincaid, leader of an elite team of gorgeous female assassins who attempt to stop a diabolical madman from destroying the world with a deadly plague virus. York also delivered a stunning performance as Marilyn Monroe in an otherwise lackluster film, Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars (1992). Film critic Tom Weaver has been quoted as saying that York's performances often rise above the low-budget films she has been cast in. More recently, Francine played Nicolas Cage's mother-in-law in The Family Man (2000).

York has also had many appearances on television including: Route 66 (1960), Hawaiian Eye (1959), 77 Sunset Strip (1958), My Favorite Martian (1963), Burke's Law (1963), Perry Mason (1957), Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964), It Takes a Thief (1968), Green Acres (1965), The Wild Wild West (1965), Ironside (1967), I Dream of Jeannie (1965), Love, American Style (1969), Mannix (1967), Bewitched (1964), Adam-12 (1968), Mission: Impossible (1966), Kojak (1973), Columbo (1971), Matlock (1986), The King of Queens (1998), Las Vegas (2003), The Mindy Project (2015) and Star Trek: Progeny (2016). York's personal favorites among her television roles include her portrayal of nineteenth century British actress Lily Langtry in the Death Valley Days (1952) episode "Picture of a Lady", and her role as the princess opposite Shirley Temple (one of Francine's childhood idols) in NBC's presentation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid", finally getting to play "the princess". York remembers, "Shirley carried my bridal train down the aisle when I married the prince. Even though she was older than me, she was small with short little legs and told me 'Oh Francine, I wish I was as tall as you.' (York was 5' 8") I remember the sets on that show where made of cardboard and if you breathed too hard they would fall apart." One of Francine's other favorite roles was that of high-class prostitute and blackmailer Lorraine Temple on Days of Our Lives (1965).

York also co-starred in the 1965 Lost in Space episode, The Colonists, playing an alien, Niolani. She wore was a skintight piece of black latex, a pointed headdress, and carried a fancy scepter. In the final scene, a dramatic blast resulted in a near miss for York. "Irwin Allen (producer) loved explosions. A sofa went flying up unexpectedly and came close to hitting me. The PR man made a big deal out of the incident and the next day in the papers the headlines read 'Actress Saved by Headdress,' although I don’t think the headdress had anything to do with it."

York also apeared on Batman (1966) as the accomplice to guest villain Roddy McDowall as The Bookworm. McDowall was once asked what he liked about doing Batman and he answered, Francine York.

While York was working as a film and television actress, she was also making a name for herself as a fitness/nutrition expert and gourmet cook. She made many appearances on television demonstrating her culinary skills, and many of her recipes, as well as her exercise programs, were published in national health magazines. York also became known as one of Hollywood's leading hostesses, cooking for such celebrities as Clint Eastwood, Rex Harrison, Vincent Price, Regis Philbin, Jean Stapleton, Neil Sedaka, James Arness, Glenn Ford and Peter Ustinov.

York continued to act in films and on television. Two recent television appearances include Hot in Cleveland (2010) (as British matriarch Lady Natalie), and Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures (2011) (as Aunt Bitsy).

In 1996, she met director Vincent Sherman (Mr. Skeffington, The Adventures of Don Juan, The Young Philadelphians), and became good friends despite their 30 year age difference until his death in 2006 at age 99.

York never married, she once said, "Like Cinderella, I always wanted to marry the handsome prince... but they don't make glass slippers in size ten!" On January 6th, 2017, York died of cancer at age 80 in Van Nuys, California. She was working on her autobiography at the time of her death.

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