June Havoc

June Havoc
June Havoc - 1950s.jpg
Havoc in the 1950s
Ellen June Evangeline Hovick

November 8, 1912[1]
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died March 28, 2010 (aged 97)
Occupation Actress, dancer, director, writer
Years active 1918–1990
Spouse(s) Bobby Reed (a.k.a. Welson Hyde)
(m. 1928; div. 193?)
Donald S. Gibbs
( m. 1935; div. 1942)

William Spier
( m. 1948; died 1973)
Children 1
Parent(s) John Olaf Hovick
Rose Thompson Hovick
Relatives Gypsy Rose Lee (sister)

June Havoc (born Ellen June Evangeline Hovick,[2] (November 8, 1912 – March 28, 2010)[3][4] was a Canadian American actress, dancer, writer, and stage 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 the well-known striptease performer Gypsy Rose Lee.

Early life

She was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada sometime in the 1910s.[7][8] For many years, however, 1916 was cited as her year of birth. Havoc acknowledged in her later years that 1912 was likely the correct year.

She was reportedly uncertain of the year. Her mother forged various birth certificates for both her daughters to evade child labor laws.[5] Her life-long career in show business began when she was a child, billed as "Baby June."[9]

Her sister, entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee (born as Rose Louise Hovick), was called "Louise" by her family members. Their parents were Rose Thompson Hovick, of German descent, 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][10]



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.[11]

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, born April Rose Hyde (April 2, c. 1932, New York City  – December 28, 1998, Paris, France). A marriage license, dated November 30, 1928 for Ellen Hovick and Weldon Hyde, would seem to indicate that Bobby Reed's real name was Weldon Hyde.[12][13] April became an actress in the 1950s known as April Kent. She predeceased her mother, dying in Paris in 1998.[14][15]

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 movies such 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.[16]

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 was directed and choreographed by June Havoc and opened the ANTA Playhouse (now the August Wilson Theatre) in December 1963, running for 48 performances and receiving four Tony Award nominations.[17]

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.[16][18] Her second marriage was in 1935 was 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Havoc was a Democrat and supported Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential election.[19]


Havoc died at her home in Stamford, Connecticut, on March 28, 2010, from unspecified natural causes. She was believed to be 97 at the time of her death.[5][20]


In 1960, Havoc was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—one at 6618 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to the motion picture industry, and the other at 6413 Hollywood Boulevard for television.[21][22]

Havoc was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play in 1964 for Marathon '33,[23] which she wrote.

In 2000, Havoc was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[24]


The June Havoc Theatre, housed at the Abingdon Theatre in New York City, was named for her in 2003.[25][26]

June Havoc was the first American woman nominated for a Tony Award for direction of a play.[27]

In his autobiography Original Story, Arthur Laurents reports that June Havoc refused to sign a release for any claim regarding the content of the musical Gypsy. Havoc demanded that his script state that she was 13 years old when she left the vaudeville act and eloped with one of the dancers. Laurents explains that he objected to Havoc’s demand because the audience would lose any sympathy for the character of her mother Rose. He indicates that while the musical was in tryouts out of town, he altered the script, changing the name of Havoc’s character from Dainty June to Dainty Clune. He states that as a result, Havoc signed the release, and her character’s name was restored to Dainty June.[28]

In her one-woman show Elaine Stritch At Liberty, Elaine Stritch recalled that after the closing of the play Time Of The Barracudas on the West Coast, she returned to New York and landed a leading role in the play Oh Glorious Tintinnabulation. Stritch recounted that the play was written and directed by June Havoc and scheduled for performance at the Lincoln Center Theatre. According to Stritch, during dress rehearsal, Havoc told Stritch that “it just wasn’t working out.” Stritch added that she went home and that Havoc assumed the role she had been playing. She noted that this incident resulted in a criticism of directors by Stritch published in The New York Times, which led to her casting in the musical Company.[29]

Selected Stage Work

(all shows on Broadway unless indicated otherwise)



Artistic Director of New Orleans Repertory Theatre (1969-70)

Select filmography[edit]


Short subjects[edit]

Selected television work[edit]


  1. ^ Many sources cite 1913 but Havoc in her late years endorsed the earlier year, although a copy of her birth certificate has not been made available.
  2. ^ Some sources indicate she was born Ellen Evangeline Hovick.
  3. ^ a b Beck, Kathrine K. (April 8, 2004). "Historylink.org". Historylink.org. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ a b c d 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. ...
  6. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 29, 2010). "Los Angeles Times obituary". Latimes.com. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "Ancestry Library Edition". www.ancestrylibrary.com.
  8. ^ "Ancestry Library Edition". search.ancestrylibrary.com.
  9. ^ Klein, Alvin (March 5, 1995). "June Havoc, Off Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2006.
  10. ^ Preminger, Erik Lee (2004) [1984]. My G-String Mother: At Home and Backstage with Gypsy Rose Lee. Berkeley, California: Frog. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-58394-096-9.
  11. ^ Havoc, June (1959). Early Havoc. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 20. OCLC 721747.
  12. ^ Dates of birth and death of April Kent, familysearch.org; accessed August 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "The real June is still singing out". Nytimes.com. August 10, 2003. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  14. ^ April Kent on IMDb
  15. ^ Obituary for June Havoc Archived June 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com; accessed August 6, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Simpson, Robert (March 28, 2010). "June Havoc, Stage Star Whose Life Became Legend in Gypsy, Dies at 96". playbill.com. Archived from the original on June 4, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  17. ^ Klein, Alvin (November 6, 1983) "The Lively Arts; Theater Bows With 'Marathon'33'", nytimes.com; retrieved April 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Aaker, Everett (2013) George Raft: The Films. McFarland, pg. 130; ISBN 0786493135
  19. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  20. ^ "June Havoc, Actress Who Outgrew Tyranny of Her 'Momma Rose', Dies". Today.com. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  21. ^ "June Havoc - Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com.
  22. ^ June Havoc, L.A. Times Hollywood Star Walk; accessed January 17, 2017.
  23. ^ "1964 Tony Award Winners". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  24. ^ "Theater family comes together to celebrate Hall of Fame honorees". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  25. ^ "Abingdon Theatre Company, June Havoc Theatre". NYC Music Spaces. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2006.
  26. ^ Entertainment editors (November 3, 2003). "Actress-Director-Playwright June Havoc Honored by Abingdon Theatre Company with Naming of Theatre Tonight". Business Wire. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2006.
  27. ^ Tony Award nominees for direction @tonyawards.com retrieved March 22, 2020.
  28. ^ Laurents, Arthur Original Story (2000) Alfred A. Knopf pp. 388-90.
  29. ^ Elaine Stritch At Liberty (2002) Act II 2 cds recorded live DRG Records 12994.
  30. ^ The Paper Chase, Season 1, Episode 19: "The Clay-Footed Idol" (YouTube)

External links[edit]