Frances Rafferty

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Frances Anne Rafferty
Frances Rafferty-YANK1943.jpg
from YANK magazine, 1943
Born(1922-06-16)June 16, 1922
DiedApril 18, 2004(2004-04-18) (aged 81)
OccupationActress, dancer
Years active1942–1977
Spouse(s)John Harlan (1944-1947)
Thomas R. Baker (1948-2004) (her death) (2 children)
ChildrenBridget Baker
Kevin Baker (b. 1950)[1]
RelativesBrother Max Rafferty

Frances Anne Rafferty (June 16, 1922 – April 18, 2004) was an American actress, dancer, World War II pin-up girl and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player.

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Frances Anne Rafferty was born in Sioux City, Iowa, the daughter of Maxwell Lewis Rafferty, Sr. (1886-1967), and the former DeEtta Frances Cox Rafferty (c. 1892-1972). She was the younger sister of California conservative educator and Republican politician Max Rafferty, whose wife was also named "Frances."[2] At the age of nine she moved with her family to Los Angeles, California. At a young age she studied dancing, and her physical attributes and dancing skills led to work in the film industry.

Rafferty attended Miss Bryant's Day School and Bryant School while the family lived in Iowa. After moving to California, she graduated from University High School in Los Angeles.[3]


Signed by MGM Studios, Frances made her film debut in 1942. She appeared in minor and secondary roles, and although she had a part in the 1944 film Dragon Seed with Katharine Hepburn and Walter Huston, her significant parts were limited almost exclusively to "B" movies. For instance, in 1948, she starred with Hugh Beaumont in the Film Noir movie, Money Madness, directed by Sam Newfield. Her only 'major film' role was in Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Hollywood (1945).

During World War II she was a volunteer pin-up girl for YANK magazine, a publication for the soldiers of the United States military.

In 1949, Rafferty was a performer on the anthology series Oboler Comedy Theater on ABC television.[4] In 1954, she guest starred in two episodes of CBS's The Public Defender, starring Reed Hadley and based on cases of attorneys for the indigent.

From 1954 to 1959, she appeared as Ruth Ruskin Henshaw in all 156 episodes of the Desilu Studios CBS sitcom December Bride, with co-stars Spring Byington as her mother, Lily Ruskin, and Dean Miller as her husband, Matt Henshaw. Harry Morgan played the wisecracking neighbor, Pete Porter. When Harry Morgan and Cara Williams joined in another CBS sitcom, Pete and Gladys in 1960, Rafferty was subsequently cast in seven episodes in the role of "Nancy".

Rafferty appeared in a number of different television programs throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Among them were two guest appearances on Perry Mason. After her retirement from acting in 1965, she made a final appearance in a 1977 episode of Karl Malden's ABC crime drama, The Streets of San Francisco.

Personal life[edit]

She was married to John Harlan from 1944 until their divorce in 1947. (Rafferty's biography on the Des Moines Register's DataCentral site gives Rafferty's first husband's name as "Maj. John Horton".[3] An Associated Press news story dated February 18, 1947, reported, "Movie Actress Frances Rafferty obtained a divorce today from John E. Horton, former army major.")[5] In 1948, she married Thomas R. Baker, and together they had two children. Following her retirement from acting, Rafferty and her husband operated a ranch where they bred and raised quarter horses.

Frances Rafferty died in 2004 in Paso Robles, California, just three months after the passing of her December Bride costar Dean Miller. With the death of Harry Morgan in 2011, none of the December Bride cast is still living.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Source Citation: US Federal Census Year: 1930; Census Place: Sioux City, Woodbury, Iowa; Roll 690; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 55; Image: 429.0.
  3. ^ a b "Frances Rafferty". DataCentral. Des Moines Register. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  4. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 777–778. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  5. ^ "Frances Rafferty Granted Divorce". Eau Claire Leader. Wisconsin, Eau Claire. Associated Press. February 19, 1947. p. 1. Retrieved April 1, 2017 – via open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]