With many thanks and stolen shamelessly from TJB of Stirred Straight Up With A Twist, who capsulized (see his write up below) la Miller much better than I could:
Birthday Goddess: ANN MILLER (b. April 12, 1923). Addendum: I can't think of anyone else from the old Dream Factory of Hollywood who took the business of being a Movie Star (Capital M, Capital S, if you please), and the glamour she felt it was her duty to provide as such, more seriously, yet with as much palpable joy and sense of fun, than our beloved, irrepressible, indefatigable, irreplaceable ANN MILLER.
Seemingly never off of television in the 1970s and 80s -- on every daytime and prime time talk show; hawking cans of Great American Soup ("Must everything be such a big production?"); cavorting on THE LOVE BOAT -- Miller was the greatest, most vocal advocate for the long-dead studio system that their long-dead bosses, such as Harry Cohn or Louis B. Mayer, could have ever hoped for. The irony, of course, was that Miller had never risen to the top ranks at either Cohn or Mayer's studios; her very specific talent as *the* best tap dancer since Eleanor Powell meant that she either was top-billed in B's, or given showy supporting turns in A's.
Nevertheless, Miller became a bona fide legend because of that dazzling talent, and her inexhaustible capacity for self-promotion. When it was fashionable to decry the old studios' caste system, and for most actors and actresses to rebel against artifice and flash in their personal appearance, there was Miller, unmistakable in her towering wigs, sparkly gowns, and tap shoes always at the ready, cheerfully and determinedly waving the banner for "glamour and mystique," as she put it. And, crucially, she never came across as stuffy OR phony when she did it; this was a gal whom you'd probably like to pal around with, and she honestly, truly believed in spreading the gospel of glamour.
The stories, some of them possibly apocryphal, abound: when Miller was slightly injured by a falling prop while she was in the Broadway run of MAME, a production assistant dutifully filled out the necessary insurance forms. "Occupation?" he inquired of Miss Miller. The answer, delivered without a trace of irony, or haughtiness: "Star." Because that is what Ann Miller knew she was: a Star, the likes of which we'll never see again. Wherever she is, I know she's continuing to spread joy, glamour, and mystique.