Francine York Dies: ‘Batman’ Villainess & Frequent Jerry Lewis Co-Star Was 80


Francine York, a familiar guest star of numerous TV shows from Batman to The Mindy Project and the go-to bombshell in a string of classic Jerry Lewis comedies, died today in California. She was 80.

Her death was confirmed in a Facebook post by her friend, television producer Pepper Jay. Funeral services are pending.

Appearing in small but memorable roles in the Lewis movies – from 1962’s It’s Only Money through The Nutty Professor, Family Jewels, The Patsy, The Disorderly Orderly and up to 1983’s Cracking Up – York was more familiarly a steady TV presence well into the 21st Century. In recent years she made appearances on The Mindy Project and Hot in Cleveland, among others.

But she’ll no doubt be remembered best as something of a guest-star queen of 1960s and ’70s sitcoms and dramas. She played Lydia Limpet, moll of Roddy McDowall’s evil Bookworm on Batman, a sexy alien on Lost in Space, a Venus statue come to life on Bewitched and doctors on Land of the Giants and The Wild, Wild West. She was on Green Acres, Gomer Pyle: USMC, My Favorite Martian, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, I Dream of Jeannie and Family Affair, to pull just a sample.

Born in Aurora, Minnesota – a “small mining town,” according to an authorized website –  York was a pageant contestant, model and showgirl before landing a string of commercials for such major advertisers as Chrysler, Betty Crocker and Chevrolet. She played a receptionist on 1959’s Rescue 8, launching the steady career that took her through Curse of the Swamp Creature, the Elvis Presley vehicle Tickle Me, George Stevens’ The Greatest Story Ever Told, and to such TV dramas as The Streets of San Francisco, Columbo, Kojak, Police Story, Mission Impossible, Riptide, Perry Mason, Matlock, Beverly Hills 90210 and Lois & Clark.

In later years, York attended fan conventions for her roles on Bewitched and Batman, among others. On the authorized website, York is quoted from a 1970 interview discussing her career in what would come to be known as cult roles. “Why can’t I play the girl next door?,” she asked. “It seems I’m always blowing up the world or something.”

According to Jay, York’s death at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, California, followed a battle with cancer.


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