Monday, February 7, 2011
SPOTLIGHT ON ANN SHERIDAN
Ann Sherdian was personally one of my favorite actresses that Warner Brothers had under contract in the 1940s. She was not the greatest actress, but she made any film better by her appearances in it. Born Clara Lou Sheridan in Denton, Texas on February 21, 1915, Ann was a college student when her sister sent a photograph of her to Paramount Pictures. She subsequently entered and won a beauty contest, with part of her prize being a bit part in a Paramount film. She abandoned college to pursue a career in Hollywood.
She made her film debut in 1934, aged 19, in the film Search for Beauty, and played uncredited bit parts in Paramount films for the next two years. Paramount made little effort to develop Sheridan's talent, so she left, signing a contract with Warner Bros. in 1936, and changing her name to "Ann Sheridan."
Sheridan's career prospects began to improve. The red-haired beauty would soon become Warner's top sex symbol. She received as many as 250 marriage proposals from fans in a single week. Tagged "The Oomph Girl," Sheridan was a popular pin-up girl in the early 1940s.
She was the heroine of a novel, Ann Sheridan and the Sign of the Sphinx, written by Kathryn Heisenfelt, published by Whitman Publishing Company in 1943. While the heroine of the story was identified as a famous actress, the stories were entirely fictitious. The story was probably written for a young teenage audience and is reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. It is part of a series known as "Whitman Authorized Editions", 16 books published between 1941-1947 that always featured a film actress as heroine.
She received substantial roles and positive reaction from critics and moviegoers in such films as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), opposite James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, Dodge City (1939) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, Torrid Zone with Cagney and They Drive by Night with George Raft and Bogart (both 1940), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) with Bette Davis, and Kings Row (1942), where she received top billing playing opposite Ronald Reagan, Robert Cummings, and Betty Field. Known for having a fine singing voice, Ann also appeared in such musicals as Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) and It All Came True (1940). She was also memorable in two of her biggest hits, Nora Prentiss and The Unfaithful, both in 1947.
Despite these successes, her career began to decline. Her role in I Was a Male War Bride (1949), directed by Howard Hawks and costarring Cary Grant, gave her another success, but by the 1950s, she was struggling to find work and her film roles were sporadic. She appeared in the television soap opera Another World during the mid-1960s.
In 1966, Sheridan began starring in a new TV series, a Western-themed comedy called Pistols 'n' Petticoats. But she became ill during the filming, and died of esophageal and liver cancer in Los Angeles, California. She had been a chain cigarette smoker for years, and Cagney remarked in his autobiography that when the cancer struck, "she didn't have a chance." She was cremated and her ashes were stored at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles until they were permanently interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2005. Pistols 'n' Petticoats was officially canceled before her death, though some episodes aired afterward. Her lines were dubbed in at least one of these (presumably because the cancer had affected her voice), and she did not appear in a few of the final episodes.
Sheridan married three times, including a marriage lasting one year to fellow Warner Brothers actor George Brent and co-star in Honeymoon for Three...