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WESTSIDER ANN MILLER
WESTSIDER ANN MILLER
Co-star of Sugar Babies

1-12-80

Sugar Babies, the rollicking burlesque musical that rolled into Broadway last fall, was one of the most-awaited shows of the year because it signalled Mickey Rooney's return to Broadway after umpteen years. Less attention was initially given to Mickey's co-star, dazzling Ann Miller, who last appeared on Broadway in 1970 as a star of Mame. Ann, it turns out, is not only a wonderful singer and comedienne, but, in her mid-50s, is still one of the best tap dancers in America. Her fancy footwork has become a prime attraction of this box-office smash.

"I was also in George White's Scandals for a year when I was 15," recalls Ann in her dressing room after a performance. "This is my third show only." For most of her career, she has lived in Beverly Hills, California. The veteran of dozens of movies, including On The Town with Frank Sinatra, Miss Miller is a larger-than-life entertainer who believes that her career comes first and foremost, ahead of personal happiness and family. Married and divorced three times, she has no children, but is an ardent animal lover.

"I have two beautiful dogs, Cinderella and Jasmine," she says in a light Southern accent. "They look exactly alike, only one is Hungarian and the other is French. My secretary walks them. … I'm very much interested in the protection of animals. I think people treat animals very cruelly, and to me, when you adopt a dog, it's like adopting a child. My little Cinderella: she was thrown out of a car by somebody wanting to get rid of her. I found her in Cincinnati in a blizzard. She almost died and I saved her life."

By looking beyond the heavy rouge, bright red lipstick, large rhinestone earrings and fluttering false eyelashes that are part of her act, one can see that Ann appears considerably younger then her years. Sugar Babies, she points out, is not burlesque in the normal sense. "Burlesque got sleazy in the 1940s with bumps and grinds and tassel-twirlers, but that's not what we're selling. We sell, in a sense, glorified, old-fashioned, 1920s-style vaudeville, with good production numbers. And that's what burlesque was originally. … A college professor got this together. The jokes are authentic. … Our show is for everybody. It's not dirty at all — not by today's standards."

There is a crowd of people waiting to see Ann after nearly every show. Rooney escapes the fans by dashing out the stage door within minutes of the final curtain. "He lives way out in New Jersey," explains Ann, who rents a hotel suite on the Uppe............
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