Obituary: June Preston
June Preston, one of the last remaining child actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age as well as a world-renowned opera singer, died in Montclair on May 11, 2022, after a battle with dementia. She was 93.
Mrs. Preston was born in 1928 in Glendale, California. She was “discovered” on the RKO studio lot at age 3, which resulted in two consecutive seven-year contracts, and worked for various other movie studios over the years.
She made her screen debut at age 4 as Mrs. Blewett's daughter in RKO’s “Anne of Green Gables” (1934), then appeared in “Maytime” (1937), “Our Gang Follies” (1938), “Christmas in July” (1940) and “The Strawberry Blond” (1941), among other films.
Her trademark was her cherub looks. She was a “Meglin Kiddie,” a member of a troupe of child singers and dancers that also counted as members at one time or another Preston’s “rival,” Shirley Temple, as well as Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Jane Withers, Virginia Grey and Ann Miller.
She had numerous merchandising contracts, including multiple June Preston Frocks apparel lines, as well as coats, hats, slips, swimsuits, snow suits and purses,as well as a June Preston doll and toys.
Mrs. Preston later went on to become a distinguished opera singer, performing at prestigious opera houses around the world. She was discovered at age 16 and began touring in1949.
In 1952, at age 24, she debuted with The Metropolitan Opera touring company on a South American tour in the leading role of Mimi in “La Boheme.” She was sought after for her beautiful and passionate voice, possessing a five-octave range.
While on a European tour, she met Saul Höuben, a Belgian concert violinist, and they married in 1963. Soon after, she retired to raise her daughter, Sabrina Pires, who survives her.
She is also survived by her son-in-law, John Pires; sister, Lita Preston-Chase; nieces and nephews, and dear friend Rose Jeffer and her family.
Mrs. Preston was laid to rest in a private ceremony at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Hollywood Hills, California.