Sheree was born in LA, California as Dawn Shirley Crang to June Shoard and Richard Crang. Her name changed to Dawn Shirley Bethel when her mother got married for the second time to Edward Bethel. During World War II, when she was ten years old, she began dancing in USO. She got married to Fred Bessire when she was sixteen years old in 1948. She gave birth when she was seventeen years old in 1949. She did not stop dancing and used the stage name, Sherley Mae Bessire. Her debut in the film industry was marked by her part in Excuse my Dust in 1951.
She had a role in the movie as an extra which was unaccredited. While performing in a club in Santa Monica, she got noticed by a choreographer which led her to become a chorus girl in Here Come the Girls in 1953. She changed her name to Sheree North around this time. She won a Theater World Award because of her first Broadway performance in a musical called Hazel Flagg. She got the same role in the film version of the musical alongside Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. In 1954, she was a part of The Colgate Comedy Hour which had a TV version of Anything Goes by Cole Porter.
In 1954, she got a four-year contract with 20th Century Fox which was set to groom and transfer from her into a success as great as their former star as
Marilyn Monroe. She was supposed to be given roles in two upcoming movies earlier made for Monroe. But in the end, after testing North, she wasn’t given any of the movies. In 1954, she had an experience with a slight scandal when it was stated that he had danced in an erotic movie wearing a bikini. Fox, however, gained benefits from this news like it had done with Monroe. In 1955, she was given another Monroe-rejected role in How To Be Very, Very Popular. The film got mixed reviews and was a moderate success. Another Monroe-related fame was passed her way when Life magazine had her on their cover and claimed that North was supposedly taking over Marilyn’s career.
Another attempt made by Fox to popularise North was to cast her in projects that had famous actors. Their plan was to cast her with Tom Ewell in a comedy and expected it to have the same effect it had when Ewell and Monroe came together in The Seven Year Itch in 1955. The movie was The Lieutenant Wore Skirts in which North appeared with Tom, but the plan became a big failure when her poses were cropped, and only her legs were displayed with the caption ‘’Believe it or not, these legs belong to an army lieutenant’’. The film was commercially a success. Fox attempted to create a solid fan base for North one last time with the musical The Best Things in Life Are Free for which she received fourth billing. Both the film and North received positive feedbacks from critics, but that did not satisfy Fox’s expectations.
This led to Fox sidelining North and promoting another Broadway actress but still offered her roles that were related to Monroe in one way of another. On denying an offer by Fox, she got suspended for two months by the company. When the suspension was lifted, she agreed to a role in the
Elvis Presley starrer
The Way to the Gold. Due to disagreements, Presley left the role and was replaced by Jeffrey Hunter. The film was a box office success with mixed reviews. She then starred in No Down Payment (1957), In Love and War (1958), Mardi Gras (1958) which marked the end of her contract with Fox.
This paused her career, but she still continued to act both on stage and in TV shows and movies. This still never rejuvenated the recognition she had while she was still under Fox. She guest-starred in different shows like Gunsmoke, The Virginian, etc. After an eight year break, she joined the film industry again with her role in Destination Inner Space (1966) and then later in The Trouble with Girls in 1969. She has appeared in many small roles on TV and the big screen. She was also seen in Seinfeld and in her last on-screen role in the film Susan’s plan in 1998. After her first divorce in 1953, she got married to Bud Freeman, a TV writer, in 1955. They got divorced a year later after which she married a psychologist Gerhard Sommer. She had a daughter with him, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1963. Her last marriage was with Phillip Norman with whom she stayed until her death. She passed away on November 4th in 2005 during a cancer surgery when she was 73 years old.