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'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' Star Virginia Gibson Dies at 88

Virginia Gibson Headshot - P 2013
Courtesy of Everett Collection

The actress also sang and danced on Broadway and co-hosted the children’s documentary series “Discovery” for ABC.

Virginia Gibson, a singer, dancer and actress who played one of the smitten girls in the classic MGM musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died April 25 in Newtown, Pa. She was 88.

A regular on Broadway for more than decade starting in the 1940s, Gibson received a Tony Award nomination in 1957 for best featured actress in a musical for her work in Happy Hunting opposite Ethel Merman.

She later co-hosted the Emmy Award-winning children’s documentary series Discovery for ABC News that aired from 1962-70.

In director Stanley Donen’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Gibson plays Liza, the dark-haired beauty who winds up with Ephraim (Jacques d’Amboise) and leads the girls in the musical number “June Bride.” The film, one of the most beloved movie musicals in Hollywood history, was nominated for best picture, losing out to On the Waterfront.

The St. Louis native made her Broadway debut in 1943 as a dancing girl in Richard RodgersA Connecticut Yankee and went on to appear in the musicals Laffing Room Only (1944), Billion Dollar Baby (1945), Hugh Button Shoes (1947), Look, Ma, I’m Dancing (1948) and Along Fifth Avenue (1949).

Gibson became a Warner Bros. contract player in 1950 and made her film debut that year in the Doris Day starrer Tea for Two, singing “I Only Have Eyes for You.” The next year, she appeared with Joan Crawford in a non-musical role in Goodbye, My Fancy.

Her film résumé also includes Painting the Clouds With Sunshine (1951), She’s Back on Broadway (1953) and Funny Face (1957).

Gibson starred in the shortlived 1955 NBC sitcom This Is Hollywood, about the adventures of two young women trying to make it in show business, one as an actress (Gibson) and the other as a stuntwoman (Mitzi Green). She also was a regular on The Johnny Carson Show, before the comedian went on to host The Tonight Show.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York.

Watch Gibson and the other brides -- Jane Powell, Julie Newmar, Ruta Lee, Norma Doggett and Betty Carr -- perform "June Bride" below: