June Havoc

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June Havoc
File:June Havoc - 1950s.jpg
Havoc in 1950s
Born Ellen Evangeline Hovick
November 8, 1912
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died March 28, 2010(2010-03-28) (aged 97)
Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Actress, dancer, director, writer
Years active 1918–1990
Spouse(s) Bobby Reed/Welson Hyde (1929–19??)
Donald S. Gibbs
William Spier (1948–1973)[2]
Children April Kent (April 2, 1932  – December 28, 1998)
Parent(s) John Olaf Hovick
Rose Thompson Hovick
Relatives Gypsy Rose Lee

June Havoc (November 8, 1912 – March 28, 2010)[3][4] was a Canadian-born American actress, dancer, writer, and theater director.[5]

Havoc was a child vaudeville performer under the tutelage of her mother, Rose Thompson Hovick.[6] She later acted on Broadway and in Hollywood, and stage directed, both on and off-Broadway. She last appeared on television in 1990 in a story arc on the soap opera General Hospital. Her elder sister, Louise, gravitated to burlesque and became a well-known performer using the stage name Gypsy Rose Lee.

Early life

She was born as either "Ellen Evangeline Hovick" or "Ellen June Hovick" in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1912. For many years her year of birth was given as 1916. She herself was reportedly uncertain of the year. Her mother forged various birth certificates for both her daughters to evade child labor laws.[5] Her lifelong career in show business began when she was a child, billed as "Baby June".[7] Her only full sibling, Rose Louise Hovick (1911–1970), was called "Louise" by her family members. Their parents were Rose Thompson Hovick (1890–1954) and John Olaf Hovick (c. 1885-1952) the son of Norwegian immigrants, who worked as an advertising agent and reporter at The Seattle Times.[4][8]



November 13, 1927 ad in The Decatur Review

Following their parents' divorce, the two sisters earned the family's income by appearing in vaudeville, where June's talent often overshadowed Louise's. Baby June got an audition with Alexander Pantages (1876–1936), who had come to Seattle, Washington in 1902 to build theaters up and down the west coast of the United States. Soon, she was launched in vaudeville and also appeared in Hollywood movies. She could not speak until the age of three, but the films were all silent. She would cry for the cameras when her mother told her that the family's dog had died.[9]

In December 1928, Havoc, in an effort to escape her overbearing mother, eloped with Bobby Reed, a boy in the vaudeville act. Weeks later after performing at the Jayhawk Theatre in Topeka, Kansas, on December 29, 1928, Rose reported Reed to the Topeka Police and he was arrested. Rose had a concealed gun on her when she met Bobby at the police station. She pulled the trigger, but the safety was on. She then physically attacked her soon-to-be new son-in-law and the police had to pry her off the hapless Reed. June soon married him, leaving both her family and the act. The marriage did not last, but the two remained on friendly terms. June's only child was a daughter, April (born April 2, ca. 1932  – died December 28, 1998). A marriage license, dated November 30, 1928 for Ellen Hovick and Weldon Hyde, would seem to indicate that Reed's real name was Welson Hyde.[10][11] April became an actress in the 1950s known as April Kent. She predeceased her mother, dying in Paris in 1998.[12][13]

Film and stage

She adopted the surname of Havoc, a variant of her birth name. She got her first acting break on Broadway in Sigmund Romberg's Forbidden Melody in 1936. She later appeared in Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey on Broadway. Havoc moved to Hollywood in the late 1940s, and had roles in such movies as Gentleman's Agreement. Havoc and her sister continued to get demands for money and gifts from their mother until her death in 1954.[3]

After their mother's death, the sisters then were free to write about her without risking a lawsuit. Lee's memoir, titled Gypsy, was published in 1957 and was taken as inspirational material for the Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents Broadway musical Gypsy: A Musical Fable. Havoc did not like the way she was portrayed in the piece, which became a source of contention between the two, but gave her agreement in her sister's financial interest. Havoc and Lee reportedly were estranged for more than a decade, but reconciled shortly before Lee's death in 1970.[2]

Havoc wrote two memoirs, Early Havoc and More Havoc. She also wrote a play entitled Marathon '33, based on Early Havoc with elements of They Shoot Horses, Don't They? The play starred Julie Harris, and ran briefly on Broadway.[citation needed]

Personal life

Havoc was married three times. Her first marriage, at age 16, was in December 1928 to Bobby Reed, a boy in her vaudeville act.[2][14] She married, secondly, in 1935 to Donald S. Gibbs; they later divorced. Her third marriage, to radio and television director and producer William Spier (1906–1973), lasted from January 25, 1948 until his death.[5] Havoc's sister, Gypsy Rose Lee, died of lung cancer in 1970, aged 59, and is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, in Inglewood, California.

In the mid-1970s, Havoc purchased an abandoned train depot and various 19th-century buildings in Wilton, Connecticut called Cannon Crossing. Restoring, rebuilding and repurposing several small buildings from other locations, she worked hands-on and successfully completed this vast restoration project, which remains a popular destination today. It is home to artisan shops, galleries, boutiques, a cafe and a restaurant. A long-time resident of Fairfield County (Weston, Wilton and lastly North Stamford) Connecticut, Havoc was fiercely devoted to the care and well-being of animals. Her homes were a nurturing and loving sanctuary to many orphaned geese, donkeys, cats, and dogs over the decades. The tailgate of her station wagon was never without a Friends of Animals "WARNING: I Brake For Animals" bumper sticker.[citation needed]


Havoc died at her Stamford, Connecticut home on March 28, 2010, at age 97.[5][15]


Havoc was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play in 1964 for Marathon '33,[16] which she wrote.[17] In 2000, Havoc was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[18]


The June Havoc Theatre, housed at the Abingdon Theatre in New York City, was named for her in 2003.[19][20]

Select filmography


Short subjects

Selected television work


  1. Simonson, Robert (March 28, 2010). "June Havoc, Stage Star Whose Life Became Legend in Gypsy, Dies at 96". Playbill. Retrieved February 20, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Simpson, Robert (March 28, 2010). "June Havoc, Stage Star Whose Life Became Legend in Gypsy, Dies at 96". playbill.com. Retrieved November 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Beck, Kathrine K. (April 8, 2004). "Historylink.org". Historylink.org. Retrieved December 22, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Frankel, Noralee (2009). Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-536803-1. Retrieved February 20, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gates, Anita (March 29, 2010). "June Havoc, Vaudeville Star, Is Dead". The New York Times. June Havoc ... died on Sunday at her home in Stamford, Conn. She was believed to be 97. ... Ellen Evangeline Hovick was born on Nov. 8, 1912, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Or so Ms. Havoc concluded. Her mother reportedly carried five birth certificates for her younger daughter, to satisfy the child labor laws of every state, so June wasn't sure exactly how old she was. ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. McLellan, Dennis (March 29, 2010). "Los Angeles Times obituary". Latimes.com. Retrieved December 22, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Klein, Alvin (March 5, 1995). "June Havoc, Off Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Preminger, Erik Lee (2004) [1984]. My G-String Mother: And Home and Backstage with Gypsy Rose Lee. Berkeley, California: Frog. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-58394-096-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Havoc, June (1959). Early Havoc. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 20. OCLC 721747.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Dates of birth and death of April Kent, familysearch.org; accessed August 6, 2014.
  11. "The real June is still singing out". Nytimes.com. August 10, 2003. Retrieved December 22, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. April Kent at the Internet Movie Database
  13. Obituary for June Havoc, playbill.com; accessed August 6, 2014.
  14. Aaker, Everett (2013) George Raft: The Films. McFarland, pg. 130; ISBN 0786493135
  15. "June Havoc, Actress Who Outgrew Tyranny of Her 'Momma Rose', Dies". MSNBC. Retrieved December 22, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "1964 Tony Award Winners". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved February 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Marathon 33". amazon.com. Retrieved February 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Theater family comes together to celebrate Hall of Fame honorees". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 13, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Abingdon Theatre Company, June Havoc Theatre". NYC Music Spaces. Retrieved May 9, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Entertainment editors (November 3, 2003). "Actress-Director-Playwright June Havoc Honored by Abingdon Theatre Company with Naming of Theatre Tonight". Business Wire. Retrieved May 9, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links