Classic Hollywood star Ann Miller enjoyed a decades-long career as an actress and dancer before she died from lung cancer in 2004 at age 84 but throughout her battle she remained hopeful, a close friend has revealed.
"She had gotten cancer, but her mindset was, 'I’ve got this, and I’ve gotta get through it,'" Randal Malone told Fox News in an interview this week. "But her assistant told me it was terminal … It was bad. I was so heartbroken. I was sick with pain because this was my friend, and she was so determined to fight back. But I never wanted her to see that side of me. She showed strength, and I wanted to do the same for her, as heartsick as I was."
Miller worked alongside greats including Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, she impressed Lucille Ball and Ginger Rogers, and was also known for her ability to deliver 500 taps a minute as a tap dancer. She was talented and beautiful and, according to Malone, was concerned about how cancer treatment would affect her looks. Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, which made the Hollywood icon wary.
Malone said she was reluctant to have the treatment, and instead underwent surgery. At the time, doctors said they managed to remove all the cancer, but it came back and this time was inoperable.
"I think she knew how sick she was, but she remained hopeful," Malone said. "She finally told me, 'If I don’t overcome this, I want you to be a pallbearer at my service.' And I was. I was the head pallbearer at her funeral."
Looking back at Miller's life, Malone said she did not think the star would have any regrets — even with three divorces. Miller was previously married to Bill Moss, Reese Milner, and Arthur Cameron, according to Playbill.
"I think if she were alive today, she would still be trying to work," Malone said. "She loved keeping busy and dancing. I think that’s what kept her young … She loved to entertain. Even when she had to go on grueling tours, she always made sure the performances were fresh every night on stage. And she always did it with a smile on her face. When she later got sick, she told me, ‘I have no regrets, not even with my failed marriages. I did my best with all of them.’ I know she always wanted children. But regrets? Annie always said herself she had none.
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