Japonica Camellias Named After Female Movie Stars

by Lorraine Heath – reprinted from Camellias Shoalhaven Inc. October 2015 Newsletter

We are going to the movies! Well, not literally. I am showcasing three very nice Japonica Camellias that were named after movies actresses of the last century whose careers spanned mainly the thirties, forties and fifties on stage and screen in America. So on with the show!

Microsoft Word - Draft Oct15 NewsletterC.j. “Alexis Smith” – First appearing in their catalogue in 1961 this chance seedling was raised at Nuccio’s Nurseries in Altadena, California U.S.A. The bloom is a loose informal double coloured blush pink with a deeper pink edge and is grown on a compact, upright bush of vigorous growth.

The actress Alexis Smith (1921-1993) achieved fame on stage, screen and television. She made many movies and performed on Broadway as well as in TV series. Her career highlights were appearing opposite Cary Grant in the movie “Night & Day” which encompassed the life story of the great songwriter Cole Porter (1946) and in 1971 she received a Tony Award for starring in the musical “Follies” on Broadway. This resulted in her making the front cover of Life magazine in May of the same year. She was married to movie and TV actor Craig Stevens of “Peter Gunn” fame.

C.j. “Ann Miller” – 1950 – Originated in the U.S.A. With parentage unknown this Microsoft Word - Draft Oct15 Newsletter
charming plant has salmon pink blooms of variable colour. The form is incomplete double to informal double with petaloid variations and the growth is vigorous and compact. The blooms open slowly in mid to late season and stay a long time on the bush. This camellia is a true compliment to a talented dancer & lovely star.

The actress Ann Miller (1923-2004) began her career as a dancer at age 13 after telling the “Black Cat Club” owners she was 18. There she was discovered by Lucille Ball and was given a movie contract. She starred in B movie musicals from 1941-1945 and then in July, 1945 posed in a bathing suit for “Yank” magazine and became a pin-up girl for the Americ soldiers fighting in the Pacific. She achieved fame in the MGM musicals “Easter Parade”(1948), “On the Town”(1949) and “Kiss me Kate”(1953). She later starred on Broadway in the stage musical of “Mame” in 1969 and then in 1979 had a huge Broadway hit with Mickey Rooney in “Sugar Babies” which then toured extensively in the U.S.A.

Microsoft Word - Draft Oct15 NewsletterC.j.”Ann Sothern” – 1960 – Originated by Earl Hudson of California, U.S.A. this seedling of C.j.”Rosary” is a lovely semi-double bloom shading in colour from Venetian pink to a centre of porcelain white. It is a prolific flowerer with a long season on a bush which is vigorous, compact and upright.The actress Ann Sothern (1909-2001) had a long career in movies and television and was highly acclaimed for many of her performances. Highlights include appearing in Academy Award-winning film “A Letter to Three Wives” in 1949, starring in the popular TV series “Private Secretary” in the 50.s which ran for four seasons and then “The Ann Sothern Show” in 1958. This last series won a Golden Globe Award in 1959 for Best TV series – Comedy. Her final movie in 1987 was “Whales of August” starring alongside Bette Davis & Lillian Gish for which she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress

I assume the originators of these three camellias must have been great fans of the three talented actresses who were honoured by having a lovely bloom named after them. I hope you enjoyed the trip down Memory Lane.

Bibliography: What Camellia is That? – Stirling Macoboy
Google – Wikipedia.

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