The Reformer and the Redhead(1950), Directed by Melvin Frank. Cast: June Allyson, Dick Powell and David Wayne.In early 1949, Lana Turner was set to star, in this film instead of June.
The corrupt Commodore John Balwind Parker and his ruff and tumble niece, Lily have just returned from Africa, where they have been on a safari. They proudly display their trophies at the zoo, in front of the lion cage much to the dismay of Dr. Kevin G. Maguire, the zoo superintendent.
Kevin is fired from his job, which angers his hot headed daughter Kathleen, who works as a bus tour guide at the zoo. Kathy, knows that her father was fired because he did not want to display the mounted trophies on the walls. She interrupts their trophy presentation with fist fight between Lily and Kathy. When Kathy is charged with assault and battery, disturbing the peace and suspicion of inciting a riot, she asks, reporter Tim Harveigh, for help. Tim suggests that take her case to attorney Andrew Rockton Hale, who is running for mayor of Oakport.
After meeting with Parker and realizing that Parker intends only to use him, he decides to blackmail him. Kathy, unaware of his plans, gives Andrew information he needs. To prove her accusations, Kathy takes Andrew to her ranch to meet her father, who knows more about Parker's actions in the community. After, getting accustomed to the lion, Andrew turns his attentions to Kathy.
When Andrew, returns from Sacramento with prove of Parker's corruption, he makes a deal with him to keep quiet in exchange for his support. Kathy, breaks off their engagement when Tim tells her about Andrew's deal with Parker. He is unaware that Herman, a dangerous lion, has escaped from the zoo and believing that it is Caesar, coxes him into his car. Will he find out that he has befriended a killer lion, before it is too late for him to make it up to Kathy?
I wanted to see this film because of the actors. June Allyson and Dick Powell, who bring their usual charm to a movie. The high points for me, was the performance of Kathleen Freeman a wonderful character actor, playing the hunter's daughter and a couple of cute animal performances. I'm glad that I watched the classic, The Reformer and the Redhead, but.. I probably will not watch it again.
She began her career as a child, dancing in her parents' vaudeville act.
After studying music at UCLA, she went into acting full time, working on the stage, and finally entering films in 1948.
She was a founding member, in 1946, of the Circle Players at The Circle Theatre, now known as El Centro Theatre.
Freeman's most notable early role was an uncredited part in the 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain, as Jean Hagen's articulate diction coach Phoebe Dinsmore.
In 1954, Freeman played receptionist Miss Seely for lawyer Adam Calhorn Shaw in, Athena.
Beginning with the 1955 film Artists and Models, Freeman became a favorite foil of Jerry Lewis, playing opposite him in 11 films.
Other film roles included: The Missouri Traveler (1958), The Fly (1958), the Westerns, Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), and appearances in a spate of comedies in the 1980's and 1990's.
Freeman played Sister Mary Stigmata (referred to as The Penguin) in John Landis' The Blues Brothers and Blues Brothers 2000, had cameos in Joe Dante's Innerspace and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (as tipsy cooking host Microwave Marge in 2), and a Ma Barker type gangster mother in Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult.
In addition to teaching acting classes in Los Angeles, Freeman also appeared from the 1950's until her death in regular or recurring roles on many sitcoms, including: Topper (as Katie the maid), The Donna Reed Show (as Mrs. Wilgus, the Stone's busybody next door neighbor), Hogan's Heroes (as Frau Gertrude Linkmeyer, General Burkhalter's sister, who longed to wed Colonel Klink), Mrs. Kate Harwell, Sandy Duncan's landlady and friend in Funny Face; I Dream of Jeannie (as a grouchy supervisor in a false preview of Maj. Nelson's future), the short-lived prehistoric sitcom It's About Time (as Mrs. Boss), and as the voice of Peg Bundy's mom, an unseen character on Married... with Children.
She played guest roles on shows: The Lucy Show, The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dick Van Dyke Show and Home Improvement.
She also played Sister Agnes in an episode of The Golden Girls.
In 1969, Freeman made a guest appearance on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., playing Sergeant Carter's mother in the episode "I'm Always Chasing Gomers."
She costarred in the 1973-74 sitcom Lotsa Luck, playing Dom DeLuise's mother.
In later years, Freeman also worked extensively as a voice actress, playing Ma Crackshell on DuckTales, a Theban woman in Disney's Hercules and fortune teller Madame Xima in the video game Curse of Monkey Island.
Freeman remained active in her last two years, with a regular voice role on As Told By Ginger, a voice bit in the animated feature film Shrek, a guest appearance on the sitcom Becker and, most notably, scoring a Tony Award nomination and a Theatre World Award for her role of accompanist Jeannette Burmeister in the Broadway musical version of The Full Monty.
In her final episode of As Told By Ginger, Season 2's "No Hope For Courtney", Freeman's character, Mrs. Gordon, retires from her teaching job though two of her students try convincing her to return to work. The script was originally written to have Mrs. Gordon come back to work, but Freeman died before the episode was finished. The script was then re-written to make her character die as well. The episode was dedicated in her memory.