by Tom Lisanti

ajillThe late Jill Haworth was a saucy, petite blonde with a wonderfully throaty voice and just a trace of an English accent. She was discovered in 1959 by producer/director Otto Preminger and made her film debut in Exodus (1960) as the ill-fated Jewish girl opposite Sal Mineo (with whom she had a romance and long friendship with). She received a Golden Globe nomination and then co-starred in Preminger’s lavish epic The Cardinal as a selfless young woman caring for the terminally ill and his all-star WWII adventure In Harm’s Way as an ill-fated nurse. “When you make three films with Otto Preminger, you’ve made three films with Otto Preminger and no one dicks around with you after that,” said Jill with a laugh.

After appearing in the horror film It!, Jill temporarily abandoned films for Broadway when Hal Prince cast her over countless actresses in the coveted role of Sally Bowles in the hit Tony Award winning musical Cabaret. Jill enjoyed great success as Sally and remained with the show for over two years. When asked years later if she had a shot for the movie, she quipped, “No, they always wanted Liza Minnelli for the movie. She’s still doing the movie!” Returning to films, she played a swinging Londoner opposite Frankie Avalon in the horror opus The Haunted House of Horror.  Haworth continued in the horror genre begrudgingly through the mid-seventies before returning to the stage. The eighties and nineties found her only doing voice-overs, but she was coaxed out of retirement in 1999 to play an ex-hippie mother in the independent film Mergers and Acquisitions. Sadly, we lost Jill in 2011.

Read my complete interview with Jill in my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema.

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