Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Year of Ann Blyth - Intro to the Series

This post begins what, by default, I’m calling The Year of Ann Blyth—because I’m going to be writing about the career of actress Ann Blyth for pretty much the entire year. 

About as simpleminded as calling another blog about old movies Another Old Movie Blog.

I’m not terribly clever.

This is also going to be a series, by default, about acting in the 20th century. Actors, from the beginning of the trade, have struggled to find work, struggled in their performing to find fulfillment in self-expression, and then struggled to find the next job. The 20th century, for the first time in the history of theatre, exploded with new outlets for actors beyond the proscenium. “The theatre” became “the media”.

Movies, radio, television—our entertainment industry became America’s greatest export to the world, for better and for worse.  I want to examine this watershed century in the acting profession and the media through the career of one actress, and am particularly drawn to Ann Blyth for different reasons; including that she moved comfortably between the different media and excelled at each, and because long after she performed in her last movie she continued to work when it suited her, on television and most especially, the stage, including plays, musicals, concerts, night clubs and cabaret.  Throw in a few TV commercials, and you can see she tagged all the bases. 

And something else...something intangible and perhaps only evident when you stack her performances on a timeline: if you know Ann Blyth only through her frothy MGM musicals, you don't know Ann Blyth.  In dramas she has morphed into the epitome of hateful, sensual, heartbroken, and shamed.  If you know her only as the demon teen Veda in Mildred Pierce, you don't know Ann Blyth.  The same colossal greedy train wreck of a girl who spit invective at Joan Crawford and smacked her in the jaw also performed a night club act to enthusiastic crowds in Las Vegas, bringing them to tears with the sentimental "Auld Lang Syne" and sang at the California state fair.  If you only know her from The Helen Morgan Story or melodramas, you are missing her genuine gift for screwball comedy.  Sinking herself intellectually, just as much as emotionally into these roles, she swims against the powerful and unrelenting current of studio typecasting . 

The scene of her debut was radio variety and drama, the true child of the 20th century that, with few exceptions, became orphaned long before the century was over.  It trained her to use her voice, not only as a singer, but as a character.

As Gary Merrill’s character says in All about Eve: It’s all theatre.

This intro post to the series is going to take a while.  You might want to call in sick to work. 

Ann Blyth’s career is interesting for its length—she began at six years old on radio; for its diversity—she leapfrogged from radio to Broadway to Hollywood before she became an adult, then jumped into a variety of screen roles in that common struggle not to be typecast, and continued, during and after raising her family, to appear on television and the stage.  Along with her seemingly effortless versatility, most especially laudable is her ability to successfully keep in perspective her career and private life—yet nothing is simple about the way we weave our lives, particularly for someone who juggled so much even from a very young age.

Her ambition certainly, but also her self-discipline and work ethic, perhaps sense of responsibility to her mother, to directors, fellow performers, her husband and children, her faith--must have been enormous. 

Ann Blyth has been described in the press that always looks for catch phrases, slug lines and labels, as a devout Catholic, and she herself would credit her faith as being of major importance in her life.  Being labeled a Nice Girl by the press eager to call her something was probably better than getting tagged “The Oomph Girl” or “The Dynamite Girl”, which Ann Sheridan and Alexis Smith, respectively, hated, but I wonder if it may have sometimes been a detriment.  We’ll talk about that in a later post.  She has also been called reserved (to the point of driving some interviewers crazy over her reticence to speak ill of coworkers), serene, “the calmest person in Hollywood.”

Interviewer Clyde Gilmour of the Vancouver Sun wrote with humorous exasperation that Blyth, “is one of the sweetest gals any columnist could ever hope to talk with—and one of the most difficult to interview.  No matter what you ask her, all she does is smile and nod and chuckle and utter a series of gentle dove-like murmurs indicating her total satisfaction with every phase of human existence on this planet.”

That one cracked me up.

In her senior years, celebrated as a veteran of old Hollywood at benefits or being interviewed at film festivals, Ann Blyth is invariably described as elegant, classy, drawing awed remarks on her still stunning beauty.  Even more thought-provoking is her character and the career choices she’s made.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

Look at the photo above, which is striking for its sweetness of attitude—we may notice the girl is quite pretty, but there is more to read in the glance she gives the camera.  A slight lowered tilt of the head, a calm, level gaze that invites as much as it withholds from the viewer.  She's studying us as much as we are studying her.  An actor’s audition headshot, or a publicity photo from her Broadway turn in Watch onthe Rhine?  I don’t know.  But you can see the girl in this photo, young Ann, is carefully tended. 

She was the gently-bred daughter of an Irish immigrant, a mother she adored.

For this year-long series, I’m not going to dwell on Ann Blyth’s personal life too deeply, rather touching upon her private life only as it bears upon her career.  Nor am I going to proceed in chronological order, for I want to present this series as snapshots of moments.  We’ll be leaping back and forth across the years like time travelers playing hopscotch.

But today we need to start at the beginning, if only for a foundation from which to leap first.   She was born in Mt. Kisco, New York in 1928, but never actually lived there.  Mrs. Blyth was visiting her sister at the time of Ann’s birth.  (Her name was Anne, but lost the ‘e’ on Anne when she went to Hollywood.  Ann remarked in an interview that her surname also once carried an 'e' on the end.  Perhaps for a previous generation?  Silent vowels are easily misplaced in transit if they are not firmly affixed.)  Ann grew up in a fourth-floor walkup by the river in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a world narrowed to her mother and a sister who was some ten years her senior (her father left the family when she was still a child), and a few city blocks.  They struggled financially.  Her mother took in washing to make ends meet.  (One columnist would later write that Mrs. Blyth once worked for actor Joseph Cotten as a housekeeper.)

In an interview quoted by author Karen Burroughs Hannsberry in Femme Noir-Bad Girls of Film, Ann recalls a "rather meager" childhood:

The fact that my father left my mother with two daughters to raise is, of course, something many families and children have to face...My mother faced it, as indeed anyone who knew her and loved her felt she would.  And she always saw to it that my sister and I had enough to eat, and clean, pretty clothes on our backs--but I know that it wasn't easy for her.

Ann’s very early desire to sing and perform, and perhaps a precocious talent for both, led Mrs. Blyth to seek outlets for her daughter, which led to auditions and lessons, and soon, jobs.  Ann began singing and reciting on New York’s WJZ (on the NBC Blue Network) at six years old in the middle of the Depression.  She was one of the regular gang for several years on a children’s program called Coast to Coast on a Bus, where the bus "conductor" was Metropolitan Opera announcer Milton Cross...
“Coast-to Coast on a Bus—The White Rabbit Line jumps anywhere, anytime!”
It was a show to discover talented children. Future Metropolitan Opera star Risë Stevens appeared here, and other kids on the bus included Billy and Florence Halop, Billy and Bobby Mauch,Walter Tetley and Jackie Kelk.  They sang songs and hymns and recited poetry, and picked up guest “passengers” along the way.  Other shows she did were The Sunday Show, Our Barn, and Jean Hersholt's  Dr. Christian program.  (On the other network, little Beverly Sills, future opera star, was also doing a kids’ show.)  WJZ also gave us Little Orphan Annie, Amos n' Andy, and Death Valley Days

A teenage boy working as a pageboy in the same NBC building while little Ann was working at the microphone in one of the studios would meet her for the first time only many years later in California.  His name was James McNulty, her future husband.  Kismet, you might say.  (Yeah, we'll get to that movie down the road.)

Of these early years, Ann gives us a brief glimpse in an article syndicated in newspapers and published in a collection of stories of faith conquering adversity, edited by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and published as FaithMade Them Champions. (The chapter is posted at the SE Entertainment blog here.)

“Mother worked very hard and her tiny body wasn't nearly as big as her heart.”

Mrs. Blyth was Ann’s cheerful emotional rudder, her advisor, and her close companion.  It’s interesting that for someone who did not come from a show business background that Mrs. Blyth, with apparently no “stage mother” temperament, was still able to guide her daughter through a world that was strange to both of them.

From an interview with The New York Times in 1952: "Life was one big struggle then, but mother managed somehow to keep me in parochial school and later in professional school.  She provided me with singing and dramatic lessons besides."
Ann was given minor children’s roles with New York’s San Carlo Opera Company, in Carmen, Pagliacci, and LaBoheme, where she was introduced to the colorful and irresistibly larger than life storytelling world of opera.  She became a lifelong fan.  The opera company performed during these years at the Gallo Opera House on West 54th Street, and Ann’s world stretched a little wider, all the way uptown.  (The opera house later became the site of the disco era’s Studio 54 nightclub.)

She had some small parts in minor plays, along with her radio work, and actor, later agent, Richard Clayton, who knew Ann as far back as their New York casting days and appeared on different radio shows with her, recalled for interviewer Sue Chambers in 1954 how the stage mothers of other kids at auditions would look pityingly at Ann, “the quiet, skinny little girl effacing herself in the corner.  But when the time came to read for the part, the other kids didn’t have a chance.”

But there were other jobs she did not get, and the Depression rolled on while she attended parochial school, later dramatic and singing lessons at the Professional Children’s School (then at Broadway and 61st Street), and stood before the mic in the radio station.  

“When I tried for something better and failed, she would smile her wonderful warm smile, put a pert new feather in my hat, and together we'd go to St. Boniface's to pray.

‘Just have faith, my darling,’ she'd say cheerfully as we walked home in the fading light. ‘Something better will come.’  And it did.  It came so fast it was like riding a giant roller coaster clear to the top.  We two looked out over the whole world.”

Ann was called to the principal’s office at school.  Usually a heart-stopping moment for any kid.  Her fate was behind the door, literally.

Herman Shumlin and Lillian Hellman were there, asking if she would read for a part in Miss Hellman’s new play Watch on the Rhine.  Ann Blyth was 12 years old.

Watch on the Rhine Playbill, September 1941, author's collection.

She did not know anything about the famous producer-director or the famous playwright, but she passed the auditions and spent the next year at the Martin Beck Theatre on West 45th Street (renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2003) as her world now included Broadway.  Any Broadway play would have been a feather in her cap and a terrific notch on her résumé, but Watch on the Rhine was a major theatre event and its illustrating the danger of foreign fascism on American soil in the home of one sheltered family made it one of the most meaningful productions of the era.  Brooks Atkinson’s review in The New York Times lauded the power of that play to glaringly reflect the current political climate which inspired it.

“Lillian Hellman has brought the awful truth close to home…Curious how much better she has done it than anybody else by forgetting the headlines and by avoiding the obvious approaches to the great news subject of today.”

Watch on the Rhine Playbill, September 1941, author's collection.

Cast members included Paul Lukas, Mady Christians, Lucile Watson, and George Coulouris.  (Lukas, Watson, and Coulouris would, of course, reprise their roles in the 1943 film.)  It was a monumental play, and if Ann, who turned 13 during its Broadway run, was not mature enough to fully appreciate the political message, she must certainly have been impressed by the prestige the production garnered.  Especially when she, along with other cast members, was invited to the White House to meet President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

She could also appreciate that, as author Hannsberry quotes, "It meant that for the first time in years, my mother wouldn't have to work so hard."
Postcard advertising the play, author collection.  Ann Blyth is in the top right photo.

Here are some photos of the production as published by Life magazine in April 1941.

Watch on the Rhine Playbill, September 1941, author's collection.

Watch on the Rhine Playbill, September 1941, author's collection.

The show closed in February 1942; afterward it toured for nine months across the country, and Ann joined the touring company.  It was during this period they gave a command performance for the President and had dinner at the White House.  She recalled for The New York Times in 1952, "I was so excited that I still can't tell anyone anything coherent about it.  I still have a souvenir, though, which the President gave me--a beautiful green match box which has a ship embossed upon it with FDR worked onto the boat."

At the age of 14, her world grew wider still with every train stop in towns and cities across the continent.  Finally, they played the Biltmore Theater in Los Angeles, where Henry Koster, a director for Universal, saw her and she was given a screen test.  By the time she performed with the touring company in San Francisco, Ann was signed to the Universal studio.

Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper spread the word in February 1943: "Henry Koster has little Ann Blyth...who was so good in Watch on the Rhine...when talking to her, he discovered she could also sing."

Her first four films, all released in 1944, were a series of small roles in B-musicals (which we’ll discuss in later posts), and then the big break when she was allowed to test for Mildred Pierce at the Warner Bros. studio.  (We’ll cover her role in that film, also, in a later post.) 

It was five days after wrapping this major film that Ann Blyth experienced an horrific event, and would spend her remaining teen years in a most heartbreaking series of personal challenges.

Her mother took Ann and some friends up to the Lake Arrowhead area in the San Bernardino Mountains to have a few days’ holiday in the snow in April 1945.  Ann was injured in a toboggan accident.  From her article on the incident in Faith Made Them Champions:

“One minute we were sailing down the hard-packed icy hillside like snow birds, then there was a crash and I fell on my back with a sickening thud.”

She was 16 years old.  She had fractured her spine.

“I didn't cry out.  The feeling was too big for that.  Involuntarily, from long habit, my spirit reached out for faith and halting prayers rose to my lips.” 

First newspaper reports called it a “near-fatal accident.” 

At the hospital, the doctors were grave; my back was broken.”

She was told she might not walk again.

“At first, I couldn't look at my mother.  When at last I raised my head, I was startled.  Those warm, hazel eyes under her crown of auburn hair were actually smiling.

‘Have faith, my darling,’ she said.  ‘You'll walk.’”

Ann spent several months flat on her back in a body cast.

“I concentrated on high school work, determined to graduate with my studio class.  But still there were those long periods of just lying down.  The busy, exciting world I had known faded away and my life slowed down to little things.”

It may be at this period that Ann learned her later-to-be-celebrated patient demeanor.  From a 1953 Miami News article she was: “…long noted as the most serene actress in town…”

“A visit with her is like taking a tranquilizer pill,” according to a producer interviewed for an article syndicated in the Miami News in 1957.

“Miss Blyth is a singularly soothing young lady to have around,” noted an article in The New York Times from 1952, that called her “serene and almost childlike.”

And something else, a faith in which she’d been trained since childhood began to evolve into a source of strength that would take her into adulthood.

“I found myself blessed, for a new sense of prayer began to unfold to me.  Now there were not the busy times of telling Him what I needed, but rather, times of listening communion, of gathering strength, when my human strength and courage seemed to ebb away.”

After seven months, she was freed from the body cast, put into a steel back brace from her neck to her lower back, and allowed to take a few steps.  She spent several months in and out of her wheelchair, in therapy (which included swimming in Joan Crawford’s pool) and finally did graduate with her studio school class in her wheelchair. 

Years later, her teacher at the Universal schoolhouse, Mrs. Gladys Hoene (pronounced "Haney"), was interviewed on what it was like to teach at the studio school by the syndicated columnist Bob Thomas, who noted that so many child stars had unhappy adult lives.  Mrs. Hoene agreed, having seen first-hand the pressures faced by child stars and the peculiar circumstance of playing roles “that are far apart from reality.  You can’t expect them to have a down-to-earth attitude toward life.”
Publicity still from Universal Studios in front of schoolhouse. 
I believe Ann is 2nd from right, with Sabu just to the right.  Can you name the others?

Mrs. Hoene was prompted to “tell tales out of school,” as it were, on her former students.  She recalled that, “When Ann and Donald O’Connor were put together, they could cut up,” but she put Ann, who was reportedly one of her favorite students, in a different category than the other kids who might grow to unhappy adults.

“I think the exception is Ann Blyth…I would stake everything I had on her chances of success.”

She was not speaking of career success.  Nor did Ann, apparently, regard career success as her only yardstick on happiness, though she certainly remained very keenly ambitious and loved to work.

“Now, at last, my life was again the same.  Only, not quite the same.  I found within me an immense gratitude for simple things.  An acute appreciation of all I might have lost, all the things I had accepted unconsciously before.”

There was a bright, shining moment during her convalescence when she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for MildredPierce (a heck of a get well card), and she attended the Oscars ceremony with her mother, a sublime evening of personal triumph they both shared.  The studio arranged for a special gown to be made for her which would hide her back brace.  The gown was pink, made of pre-war bengaline silk.

 Ann & Mrs.Blyth at Grauman's Chinese Theater, March 1946,
from a newsreel of the 1945 Oscars
What anguish Mrs. Blyth endured over Ann’s injury and long recovery anyone can only imagine, but the dark days were left behind by the renewed prospect of Ann’s return to good health and a bright future as a Hollywood actress. 

In April 1946, gossip columnist Louella Parsons remarked, "Ann is extremely ambitious.  Her career comes first in her life, and I think you'll see that she'll go far...I couldn't look at the sweet young face of Ann Blyth without feeling that she was something very special, and is not the ordinary girl.  She's well bred, quiet...."

This happy, hopeful time was cruelly brief, and in turn, eclipsed by another, greater tragedy.

Four months after the Oscars, over a month after Ann was finally allowed to remove the back brace for good, only a few weeks after her returning to work on a new movie, Mrs. Blyth died of cancer in July 1946. 

Ann was 17 years old, less than a month shy of her 18th birthday. 

Despite sympathy from those around us, grief is inevitably an agony faced alone, even for the very young.  The very depth of our mourning isolates us.  Fortunately, her mother’s sister and brother-in-law around this time gave up their home in Connecticut and moved out to California to help during the family crisis, and stayed.  As guardians and parent-figures her aunt and uncle thereafter had a huge supportive part in her life.  Ann dealt—forever after would deal—with the loss of her mother through the prism of her religious faith.

“There was an aching emptiness.  Until it came to me, almost in a revelation, that she had not left me.  She had prepared me for her going as she had prepared me for everything else I'd met in life.

Reaching out again for my faith came the assurance that she would be by my side in every good, beautiful, and true experience, wherever I might go; a part of every decision, every success and every happiness –for they all stemmed from her inspired teaching.  They would become the flowers of the mustard seed of faith she had placed in my heart.”

Now we jump ahead several decades.  Have a look below at the video taken at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco July 6, 2006 for a special screening of Mildred Pierce.  Miss Blyth is interviewed on stage by Eddie Muller.  She is 77 here, elegant, classy, gentle, stunningly beautiful, and delightfully funny.  She’s slaying her audience.  Note how effortlessly she launches into imitations of co-star Butterfly McQueen and director Michael Curtiz.  She's good with accents; we can imagine the first accent she ever learned to mimic as a child may have been her mother’s Irish brogue.  Her mother was Nan Lynch of Dublin.  (‘Tis a grand name, to be sure, but I’m sorry to say I have no reason to believe we are related.)

Note how, at the very end of the video, she is prompted to sing a line from Kismet’s “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” – the strength and loveliness of her voice, the almost startling power of it.  We have to marvel at the still prodigious talent of a lady who, we sense, as Emerson said, became the person she decided to be.

Consider as well that, unlike everyone else in that theater, Ann Blyth has just watched the screening of Mildred Pierce not as a favorite classic noir, but something more akin to a home movie of herself as a teenager only weeks before her life so shockingly changed.  The other actors on screen were all friends and colleagues—and all of them, down to little Jo Ann Marlowe who played her younger sister Kay, are all gone.  They are ghosts on the giant screen.  A thousand people in the theater have watched the intimacy of her, a solitary survivor, watching her own past.

The whole interview is not recorded on this video, but you can read a bit more of the conversation in a transcript of the interview at Michael Guillen’s blog The Evening Class.  Part 1 is here, and part 2 is here.

Come back next Thursday, and we’ll talk about Ann Blyth’s underwater adventure, which included a four-foot long fish tail with lead weights in it to make her sink, in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948).


Dunning, John. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (NY: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 162.
The Evening Class blog, July 28, 2007

The Film Daily, July 24, 1946, p. 2.

Hannsberry, Karen Burroughs.  Femme Noir - Bad Girls of Film (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Inc.) pp. 32-33.

Ladies Home Journal, article by Cynthia McAdoo Wheatland & Eileen Sharpe, "Young Hollywood at Home", February 1957, p. 104.
Life Magazine, April 14, 1941, pp. 81-84.

Los Angeles Times, July 23, 1946, p. A8; also August 12, 2013, article by Susan King.

Miami News June 26, 1953, p. 6A; November 23 1957, p. 10B
The Milwaukee Journal, syndicated article by Sue Chambers, May 1, 1954, p. 3

Muller, Eddie.  Interview on stage with Ann Blyth, Castro Theatre, San Francisco, July 6, 2006.
The New York Times, article by William Brownell, October 12, 1952, p. X5.

Peale, Dr. Norman Vincent, ed. Faith Made Them Champions (Guidepost Associates, Inc., 1954).

The Radio Annual, 1944, p. 732.

SE Entertainment blog, August 5, 2012.

Spokane Daily Chronicle, syndicated article by Dorothy Roe, July 29, 1955, p. 11.

St. Petersburg Times, syndicated article by Hedda Hopper, February 18, 1943; syndicated article by Louella Parsons April 21, 1946, p. 39.
The Tuscaloosa News, syndicated article by Bob Thomas, May 11, 1955, p 5.

Universal Studios Entertainment Tumblr site.

The Vancouver Sun, article by Clyde Gilmour, June 28, 1952, p. 45

UPDATE:  This series on Ann Blyth is now a book - ANN BLYTH: ACTRESS. SINGER. STAR. -

The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on, and on Amazon and iTunes.

Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon, CreateSpace, and my Etsy shop: LynchTwinsPublishing.

 "Lynch’s book is organized and well-written – and has plenty of amusing observations – but when it comes to describing Blyth’s movies, Lynch’s writing sparkles." - Ruth Kerr, Silver Screenings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey

"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films

"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings''

"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood

Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. 
by Jacqueline T. Lynch

The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.


Anonymous said...

Fabulous post. Have you considered doing a biography of Ann?
Can't wait to read more.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thank you, grandgirl. I hadn't considered a full-length biography when I first came up with the idea of doing this year-long series, but as the months go by, I'll keep my options open. I can't think of a more interesting or worthy subject. I hope you enjoy the upcoming posts.

Laura said...

Jacqueline, I found this post so impressive, and not just because I love Ann. There is so much rich detail here, so many interesting bits of information and ephemera all pulled together. My first thought was "At the end of the year she'll have a book," which I see was also suggested in your first comment. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series very much!

Best wishes,

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thank you, Laura. I'll admit, the more I learn about Ann Blyth, the more impressed I am with her accomplishments, professionally and personally.

Caftan Woman said...

I knew I would be intrigued by your series on Ms. Blyth, but had no idea I would be so moved.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Bless your heart, CW.

Melissa Clark said...

I'm pretty sure the only Ann Blyth movie I've seen to this point is "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid," which I sought out for William Powell as much as anything. Looking forward to learning more about her during this year's series.

Also, the Anne of Green Gables nerd in me can't help but point out that if she'd kept the "e" on both her names, she'd have had the same name as Anne Shirley, after her marriage to Gilbert Blythe. ;-)


Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for stopping by, Melissa. I hope the series is enjoyable. Always nice to hear from another "Anne of Green Gables" fan.

Moira Finnie said...

Jacqueline--I am delighted to read that you have taken on this project about Ann Blyth, whose presence in classic films went far beyond her remarkable portrayal of Veda in "Mildred Pierce." I am particularly looking forward to your discussion of her work in "Thunder on the Hill," "I'll Never Forget You," and "A Woman's Vengeance."

Great idea, and one that I will tell others about asap!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thank you, Moira. I appreciate your passing the word along. I'd love to hear from people who've seen her live stage performances, especially.

pvitari said...

Thanks so much for your post about Ann Blyth. She had such a gorgeous voice (in addition to her other charms and talents). I really look forward to you future posts, especially about her fantasy-romance I'll Never Forget You. (I'm a sucker for time travel stories.) Another aspect of her later career is her work on television -- she appeared five times on Wagon Train! Here's a link to her singing "Tomorrow is Yours and Mine" while dancing with Ward Bond in "The Jenny Tannen Story" episode:

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thank you, pvitari. We'll be discussing that very episode of "Wagon Train" in a couple weeks. I hope you can drop by then. Thank heavens for YouTube, huh? I think I watch more YouTube than I do television.

By the way, if any reader has any of Ann's TV appearances or lesser known films recorded, please contact me at my email. I'm still missing a few performances.

ClassicBecky said...

Your love for Ann just shines through this article, Jacqueline. Like CW, I was very moved by the things that happened to her in her young life. I know that future posts will be just as interesting and thorough, and I look forward to them. Oh, and one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes has Ann playing "the Queen of the Nile." Have you seen that?

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks, Becky. I have seen that "Twilight Zone" episode, and I'm saving it for Halloween, so I'm afraid we have a long wait for that one.

Kevin Deany said...

Loved the paragraph about the different aspects of Ann Blyth's career. Great stuff. The anecdotes about how her mom's death affected her was also very moving.

I've mentioned before about a video store by my house that stocks more than 20,000 DVDs. The store has an Ann Blyth section. I think your columns will cause me to visit that section often this year.

Thanks for undertaking this series for us. Really looking forward to it, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thank you so much, Kevin. A video store with an Ann Blyth section? Wow! Could you email me with the name of it? There's still a few movies and shows I'm missing.

Raquel Stecher said...

Delightful intro to your series. I look forward to future posts and Ann Blyth is the perfect subject.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thank you very much, Raquel. I'm so pleased to hear from so many Ann Blyth fans.

JavaBeanRush said...

grandgirl above has it about right. With posts like this, within a few months you'll have a good-sized Ann Blyth book.

I look forward to this year. Thank you.

-- Java

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thank you, Java. I hope the year remains interesting for readers here. We'll just have to wait and see about any possible book. I'm just enjoying the process of blogging for now.

Unknown said...

Do you know if Ann Blyth ever played a character with the name "Locke...or Lock"? I have a friend whose mother said she named her Locke after coming home from a movie that Ann Blyth starred in, and the character's name was Locke. It would have been in the late 1940's. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Hi, Rebecca, thank you for visiting the blog. That's a very interesting question, but I'm afraid your friend's mother is mistaken. Ann Blyth, to my knowledge, never played a character in a movie named Lock or Locke, nor was there any character played by anybody else with that name in an Ann Blyth movie.

The nearest I can come up with is a couple of characters, supposed to be sisters, I believe, whose surname was Lock in a Gene Autry movie called COWBOY SERENADE (1942). Or, Stephen McNally played a character called Locky in JOHNNY BELINDA (1948). He starred with Jane Wyman in that movie. The only connection with Ann Blyth (and it's a stretch) is that Wyman played a deaf woman who is unable to speak. In that same year, Ann Blyth played a mermaid in MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID, who likewise, does not speak.

If many years had passed between the time your friend's mother saw the film and the birth of her child, perhaps she had a memory of an Ann Blyth film that made an impression on her, but she mixed up the name. Ann played a character called Conn McNaughton in a movie called TOP O' THE MORNING (1949). It sounds similar.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your answer. I know my friend has written to Ann Blyth a couple of times, but never got a reply. Your response will be extremely helpful to her. Thank you again. The best part about this, is that in helping with the research, I found out about this amazing actress. I had never heard of her before, but I love old movies and now I can add her to my list of actors to watch for. Thanks again.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

You're welcome, Rebecca. I'm so pleased you've discovered Ann Blyth in the process,and I hope you enjoy tracking down and watching her movies. They are delightful. Other posts in this series (I had spent the year of 2014 writing about one of her films every week), will give you a description of each movie, as well as some of her stage work, in the setting of the progress of her career -- which led to my book on her career, of course. I agree it's such fun to learn about classic film actors and their movies.

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