The Valiant June Knight

Stage and screen performer June Knight was born Margaret Rose Valliquietto on January 22, 1913 in Los Angeles, California. Plagued by an almost unbelievable string of childhood diseases including infantile paralysis, it seemed up for grabs whether she would live beyond infancy, let alone walk, let alone sing and dance. She was ten when she began to do the latter professionally. She got a job in the children’s chorus at Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in the prologues to Son of the Sheik (starring Rudolph Valentino) and Al Jolson’s The Singing Fool. At age 13 she started dancing in vaudeville and in 1927 became a member of “The Gingham Girls,” an act that eventually went on tour in Fanchon and Marco’s revue Pep Idea. She appeared in the dance chorus of Gold Diggers of Broadway and also worked with the Duncan Sisters in the prologue of their film Topsy & Eva. She became a member of the dancing stock company at Warner Bros. Studios in 1928. She was also an extra in the skyborn masquerade party in Madam Satan (1930). 

At this stage she gave Broadway a try, apparently to boost her castability. Miraculously she landed a great part in the musical Hot-Cha! (1931) with Bert Lahr, Lupe Velez, Buddy Rogers, Lynne Overman, Veloz and Yolanda, Eleanor Powell, and Grace Moore. From here her career seemed to bounce back and forth between Broadway and Hollywood, which must have been tough for a minor star to sustain. She returned to Hollywood to play a lead in the pre-code musical Ladies Must Love (1932) with Sally O’Neil, which borrowed heavily from the Gold Diggers series. Then she went back to Broadway to star in Take a Chance (1932-1933) with Ethel Merman, Jack Haley, and Jack Whiting. She returned to Hollywood to play the same part in the screen adaptation of that show the following year.

Knight made three films in 1934: the Eddie Buzzell comedy Cross Country Cruise with Lew Ayres and Alice WhiteKarl Freund’s Gift of Gab with Edmund Lowe, Gloria Stuart and Ruth Etting; and Wake Up and Dream with Russ Columbo.

She returned to Broadway again to star in Jubilee (1935-36), with Mary Boland, Melvile Cooper, and a young Montgomery Clift. In this show she introduced the Cole Porter standard “Begin the Beguine”.)

Today, her best known picture may be Broadway Melody of 1936, although she is quite far down in the billing, beneath Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor, Una Merkel, Sid Silvers, and Buddy Ebsen, though she does get to sing a number to Taylor: “I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin”. 

Next she went to England to make two pictures: the film version of the operetta The Lilac Domino (1937) with Michael Bartlett and Cuddles Sakall; and the musical Break the News (1938) with Maurice Chevalier and Jack Buchanan. Then it was back to the U.S. for the musical Vacation from Love (1938) in which she was but 4th billed.

In 1938 she wed Texas  oilman Arthur A. Cameron, her second husband, to whom she was married for five years. During this period her only role was in the crime drama The House Across the Bay (1940) directed by Archie Mayo, where she was seventh billed under George Raft, Joan Bennett, Lloyd Nolan, Walter Pidgeon, Gladys George and Peggy Shannon.

Between husbands she returned again to Broadway to appear in Bobby Clark’s adaptation of Moliere’s The Would Be Gentleman (1946) with Gene Barry. Her last part of any sort was in Sweethearts (1947), another Bobby Clark show.

In 1949, Knight retired to marry Carl B. Squier,Vice President of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. When he passed way in 1967, she married yet a fourth time. She died of a stroke 20 years later.