American child actress turned Opera singer June Preston has passed away at the age of 93.
The actress died last Wednesday at a nursing home in Montclair, New Jersey, after a long battle with dementia. Her daughter, Sabrina Pires revealed the sad news to The Hollywood Reporter.
Preston’s funeral is to be held privately at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.
June Preston’s Life as a Child Actress and A Singer
June Preston was born on December 29, 1928, in the United States. She first stepped into the movie industry when she joined RKO Pictures, with a minor role as Mrs. Blewett’s daughter in the 1934 film, Anne of Green Gables.
As a child actress, Preston was heavily promoted with marketing and merchandising to set her as a child star rival to Shirley Temple.
Preston managed to garner significant attention with Frank Capra’s classic film, It Happened One Night in 1934. The movie won five Oscars, including Best Picture.
On top of acting, Preston also trained in dance. She went to the Meglin Dance Studio in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The dance studio trained several famous stars including Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, and Virginia Grey.
Preston’s career continued to flourish outside of the acting industry, as she was part of several merchandising contracts for a variety of products, including coats, swimsuits, purses, and toys.
Her acting career wrapped up when she was 15, with her role in 1943’s Happy Land. But another door opened for her a year later when she was discovered by German vocal coach and conductor, maestro Gustav Stern.
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She was only 24 when Preston debuted in a leading role with a Metropolitan Opera. It took no time for people to recognize her as a established opera singer and she was even given the nickname the “Golden Voice.”
Preston spent the next 10 years performing at some of the most known opera houses. She sang at Op Gouden Wieken in 1962 and also gave a recital at the Palau de la Musica Catalana the same year, going on to perform in Tarragona.
She traveled to Roatan, Honduras, to perform with pianist Manuel Rueda from the Dominican Republic. Preston was a soloist in the final movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 during the concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis in 1961.
In 1996, Preston was inducted into the West Seattle High School Hall of Fame where the singer received praises from George and Barbara Bush.
June Preston is survived by her husband, Saul Houben, daughter Sabrina Pires, son-in-law John, and sister Lita.