Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Happy 89th Birthday to Ann Blyth!

Today we wish Ann Blyth a very happy 89th birthday!  The cake in the above photo says, in part, "To OUR ANN, from Universal-International..."  Charles Boyer stands beside her, as the cast and crew take a break from filming A Woman's Vengeance (1948).

Here's another shot with Boyer and costar Jessica Tandy:

Happy Birthday and continued good health and happiness to our Ann Blyth!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ann Blyth in MURDER, SHE WROTE - today on COZI-TV

Ann Blyth appeared in an episode of Murder, She Wrote called "Reflections of the Mind" in 1985. It was her last television acting role. It will be rerun today on the COZI-TV cable channel at 4 p.m. Eastern.  Check your cable provider listings.

The above photo shows Angela Lansbury, who stars as the mystery writer and sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, comforting her old pal, because Ann is going crazy, and tried to stab her husband, and maybe killed people. I'm not telling you here, but you can get more info on the episode - warning, with a spoiler -- at my post at Another Old Movie Blog here.  

This is from my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Most especially enjoyable to fans was the matchup of Ann and Angela, who four decades earlier were both nominated in the same Best Supporting Actress category for the 1945 Oscars.  Ann, seventeen years old, had been nominated for Mildred Pierce.  Miss Lansbury, twenty years old, had been nominated for The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Both lost out to veteran actress Anne Revere.

A fond and teasing reference to their earlier careers must be the framed photograph we see at the very beginning of the episode of a young Ann and Angela standing together before what appears to be a microphone, possibly in the early 1950s.  

Martin Milner and Ben Murphy also appear in this episode.  Remember to tune in, or set your recorder!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ann Blyth - Winner of Star of the Year - 1954

Ann Blyth was chosen as the Most Popular Actress of the Year by the readers of Modern Screen magazine for 1954, as Claire Trevor noted in a chat on the Lux Radio Theater episode we covered last week.  Above is a photo at the party handing out the awards, published in the February 1955 edition of Modern Screen.  Rock Hudson was chosen as Most Popular Actor that year.  Syndicated columnist Louella Parsons joins Ann and Rock in the above photo.

In her column for the magazine that month, Louella described the festivities at the Crown Room of Romanoff's restaurant.  She wrote:

Ann Blyth, looking like a big, beautiful doll in a blue taffeta cocktail dress with a slight bustle effect, and good-looking Rock Hudson in the proverbial black suit, were the center of attention, naturally.

Other guests at the party included Howard Keel, Tony Curtis, Tab Hunter, Shirley Jones, June Allyson and Dick Powel, Ann Sothern, and many others.  Barbara Stanwcyk was awarded  special "Star of Stars" award.

Have a look at this page from Modern Screen that lists the famous runners-up whom Ann beat out for the top honors of 1954:

Not too shabby company.  This issue of Modern Screen, and many others, are available online for viewing at the wonderful Internet Archive website.  Have a look at this link and enjoy browsing around a year's worth of issues from December 1954 to December 1955.

(Thanks to my pal, Ellen, for digging up this story for me.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ann Blyth on radio in All About Eve

Ann Blyth played the notorious Eve Harrington in "All About Eve," an episode of Lux Radio Theater.  It's a fine performance, with the wonderful Claire Trevor as Margo Channing.  William Conrad, whom many Old Time Radio fans will recall did a lot of radio work and was splendid as radio's Matt Dillon in the original Gunsmoke plays Margo's lover Bill.  He's great in the part, battling and butting heads and throwing wisecracks.  Eve attempts to seduce him (only one of her many conquests, attempted or successful).   Here's the blurb from my book Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

Lux Radio Theater.  November 23, 1954.  “All About Eve.”  Adaptation of the hit film about a conniving woman with ambitions for an acting career, no matter who she has to stab in the back.  Ann Blyth as Eve, with Claire Trevor, Don Randolph, William Conrad, Betty Lou Gerson, Carleton Young, Ruth Perrott, Eileen Robin, Herb Butterfield, and Edward Marr.

Conrad, Trevor, and Ann are terrific in this tightly-written adaptation for radio.  At the very end of the show, host Irving Cummings brings Ann and Claire Trevor out to the mic for a closing chat, and when Mr. Cummings marvels at Ann's work as an evil character, Claire remarks, "I'll never forget Ann's performance as the daughter in Mildred Pierce."  They joke a bit, and then Claire adds her congratulations to Ann for being chosen as the Most Popular Actress of the Year by Modern Screen magazine.

Now you can listen to the episode here on YouTube: Lux Radio Theater - All About Eve.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid - a summertime sail

A leisurely summertime sail with Ann Blyth as the mermaid and William Powell as Mr. Peabody in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948).  Powell plays a man facing a mid-life crisis who catches the lovely mermaid while fishing, and so begins his ethereal, and hilarious, adventure.

William Powell is so entertaining and so sweet in his role, which is basically comic, but lends it such skillful depth and poignancy.  Ann Blyth’s work here is luminous and captivating.  It is a non-speaking role, but there is remarkable and touching eloquence in the way her eyes roam over his face, as if trying to read him, trying to understand his words and his facial expression.  Middle-aged Mr. Peabody is wondrous and fascinating to her, and her unlikely crush for him alone adds another level to the comedy, and the poignancy.  We can see why he might take a fancy to her, but her radiant and achingly silent adoration of him is charming.

Fortunately, the movie is apparently now available on DVD from Olive Films, but you can see it here on YouTube at the moment.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

All the Brothers Were Valiant - on TCM Saturday

Ann Blyth in a publicity photo with her co-stars Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger in All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953).  A tale of adventure on the high seas, and a love triangle, where Ann is caught between love for her new husband, played by Taylor, and her attraction for his ne-er do well brother, played by Granger.  The movie will be shown on Turner Classic Movies this coming Saturday, July 15th, at 6:30 a.m. Eastern.

From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. -

A striking scene is when Granger takes her in his arms, and she forgets all about Robert Taylor, until she glances over Granger’s shoulder and sees her husband watching her.  She is shocked at how the scene must look to him, and she when she returns to their cabin, she cannot even adequately apologize, overwhelmed by shame.

The title is a phrase and family motto in the ship’s log, “All the brothers were valiant…and all the sisters were virtuous.”  She will have to earn back her husband’s trust, as he will have to earn back her respect.

For more on the story, have a look here at my post at Another Old Movie Blog.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ann Blyth as Lady Liberty

Ann Blyth posed as the Statue of Liberty certainly fits the theme of America's Independence Day celebrations this week.  

We've recently looked at candid publicity photos taken by her home studio, Universal, showing Ann at home, but this photo above represents another part of the publicity chore: innumerable photo sessions in the studio with the actor or actress posed in any number of whimsical scenarios.  One of the most popular, or notorious, were the holiday-themed shots.

Teresa Wright, as we mentioned at my Another Old Movie Blog, famously put in her contract that she refused to do any silly photos with Easter bunnies, Thanksgiving Turkeys, or 4th of July rockets.  While Ann Blyth was cooperative with her studio, she, for her part, declined to do "cheesecake" photos, which seemed to be enormously popular with the studio photographers.  Ray Jones was head of the stills department at Universal.  From my book Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

There were three dressing rooms in his studio where the stars were prepared for their photo shoots: for body makeup, for face and hair, and for clothes.  Grips worked under Jones’ direction to set the lights and enormous 8 x 10 view camera.

Ann Blyth recalled for the author that photo sessions usually lasted all day, and along with other stars, complimented Ray Jones on his ability to put his subjects at ease, to inspire their confidence.  They were placing their image, and whatever insecurity or doubtfulness they brought with them to the photo shoot, in his capable hands.

Jones remarked in a 1952 interview about photographing starlets:

“Of the current crop, Ann Blyth has the most perfect face to photograph.  She also has one of the best figures, but she won’t let me do cheesecake of her.”

Indeed, we might note of the photo above that Ann's picture as Lady Liberty is certainly not cheesecake, but more interestingly, beyond holding the famous position of the statue, she appears to be deeply focused in the moment of the representation.  She's not just posing; she's acting.

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.

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