Johnnie Lucille Collier, better known as Ann Miller was an American singer, dancer and actress.
Miller was born in Chireno, Texas to Clara Emma and John Alfred Collier, a criminal lawyer who represented the Barrow Gang, Machine Gun Kelly, and Baby Face Nelson, among others. Miller’s maternal grandmother was Cherokee. Miller’s father insisted on the name Johnnie because he had wanted a boy, but she was often called Annie. She took up dancing to exercise her legs to help her rickets. She was considered a child dance prodigy. In an interview featured in a “behind the scenes” documentary on the making of the compilation That’s Entertainment III, she said that Eleanor Powell was an early inspiration.
At the age of 13 Miller had been hired as a dancer in the “Black Cat Club” in San Francisco. It was there she was discovered by Lucille Ball and talent scout/comic Benny Rubin. This led Miller to be given a contract with RKO in 1936 at the age of 13 and she remained there until 1940. The following year, Miller was offered a contract at Columbia Pictures. She finally hit her mark in her roles in MGM musicals such as Kiss Me Kate, Easter Parade, and On the Town.
Miller popularized pantyhose in the 1940s as a solution to the problem of continual torn stockings during the filming of dance production numbers. The common practice had been to sew hosiery to briefs worn by Miller. If torn, the entire garment had to be removed and resewn with a new pair. At Miller’s request, hosiery was manufactured for her as a single pantyhose.