Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ann and some techies off camera...


Here's a Universal studio publicity shot from 1947.  Ann Blyth is here with some of the technical crew, but unfortunately I do not have them identified, nor the occasion, nor exactly what they are doing with the equipment in this shot.  Not much help, I know, but if somebody out there can better identify this scene, I'd love to know more.


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


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Early Studio Publicty Portrait by Ray Jones


This could be one of the earliest studio publicity headshots of Ann Blyth, taken in 1943 by Universal studio photographer Ray Jones.  She is about fifteen years old here, and had recently joined the studio ranks after concluding the nation-wide tour in Watch on the Rhine.

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


Black and white photography perhaps reached its zenith as creative art form in the Hollywood studios—but especially still photography that sculpted the stars images with light and shadow and glamorized them as persons of almost supernatural beauty.  One of the very best of the artists was photographer Ray Jones, head of the Stills Photo unit of the Publicity Department at Ann’s home studio of Universal.  An excellent survey of his work and the function of a studio portrait photographer is discussed in author Tom Zimmerman’s Light and Illusion – The Hollywood Portraits of Ray Jones.  The author describes Jones’ studio in the Stills Building on the Universal lot, where he was in charge of a staff of fifty-four people. 

 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.”


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



Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Brute Force on TCM


You have a chance to see Brute Force (1947) tonight on TCM, 10:15 p.m. ET.  This impressive prison drama stars Burt Lancaster and a very strong supportive cast, including Ann Blyth as his girl on the outside.  For more on the movie, have a look at this previous post on my Another Old Movie Blog.

There was some talk at the time of making Ann Blyth and Burt Lancaster a movie romantic team and featuring them together in more films, but that never came to be.  But you can enjoy their chemistry in this one.
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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.



Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.





Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year (1956), from Ann Blyth and the studio publicity department--which racked up stupefying collection of holiday celebration shots like this.  We may note that this particular photo is a bit more classy than some in the genre: she's dressed in glamorous evening wear for a New Year's Eve party, the trailing streamers suggest we may be just at the exciting point of midnight, and the noisemaker horn is being held lightly, elegantly in her fingertips.  She is not straddling it.  But then, by 1956 Ann was an established star and so she did not need to submit to the usual exploitive and demeaning nonsense that many other actresses had to, or chose to, endure.

Wishing you all the best in the coming year.  Thank you for the pleasure of your company.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ann Blyth and Perry Como - Winter Wonderland


A very Merry Christmas to all our readers and Ann Blyth fans everywhere!  This image is taken from a clip of Ann singing "Winter Wonderland" with Perry Como on his television Christmas Show from 1958.  From my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. here's a description of that episode:


The Perry Como Christmas Show – December 20, 1958, NBC, Season 11, Episode 15.  Ann is guest, along with puppeteer Burr Tilstrom and his Kukla and Ollie puppets.  Ann sings with Perry and ensemble at the opening, “Happy Holidays.”  She also sings “You Are Love” from Show Boat in a stunning performance demonstrating her range, control, and power as a trained singer.  She belts her last soaring note facing upward as the camera is lifted above her.  As noted earlier, this show was performed live in New York at the Ziegfeld Theatre, where Show Boat coincidentally debuted in 1927.  For this number Ann, with her hair in a curly bob, wearing bold  lipstick, is dressed in a light colored evening gown with a fitted waist and, as was the fashion of the day, a full skirt.  As noted by longtime fan Gerald Waters, who researched the episode: Late in the song, filmed with only one camera, the camera develops problems due to a weak vacuum tube and the transmission wavers and fades for a moment.  Due to the flickering red light on the TV camera, Ann was aware that something was occurring, but she completed ‘You Are Love’ as if nothing was wrong.”  Ann also performs “What Child is This?” in a solo where the cast are dressed in nineteenth century costumes in a Dickensian setting.  The simple accompaniment with flutes, oboe, and clarinet is quite lovely.  The medley with Perry and the ensemble includes an intricate a cappella duet on “Joy to the World,” “Deck the Halls,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  She also sings a duet with Perry on “Winter Wonderland,” and they chat about her (then) three children and shopping for presents, noting that old fashioned skates and sleds have been replaced by toy rockets and missiles.
Have a look at the clip of Ann and Perry singing "Winter Wonderland" here on YouTube.  May I wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and a bright New Year.  Thank you for the pleasure of your company.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I'll Never Forget You - watch on YouTube


I'll Never Forget You (1951) is a haunting, deeply romantic story of time travel starring Ann Blyth and Tyrone Power.  Its opening and closing segments are filmed in stark black and white echoing scientist Tyrone Power's bleak view of the post-World War II world--but his journey back to the 18th Century and the Age of Enlightenment in England is brought to us in rich and lovely color.  Here Ann Blyth, as a young gentlewoman, is waiting for him.

(Note, the publicity photo above was shot in black and white of what is really a color scene.)

The movie, which has been released on DVD in a Tyrone Power collection is also, at least for the time being, posted on YouTube here.  Have a look at this terrific movie.

For more on I'll Never Forget You, and how it compares to the original Berkeley Square (1933), have a look at my post on Another Old Movie Blog here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

World War II Teenager



The above photo was taken during the filming of Bowery to Broadway (1944), Ann Blyth's fourth film.  Here fifteen-year-old Ann signs autographs for servicemen.

From Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. --
Ann played a patriotic teen in Chip off the Old Block who wants to throw away a show biz career in order to devote herself to war work.  In real life under the auspices of the studio, Ann was able to do both, volunteering at the famed Hollywood Canteen, and performing in shows for servicemen at Camp Pendleton, California.  She received award certificates for her volunteer activities from the Hollywood Canteen, the War Activities Committee, and the U.S. Army.


The Hollywood Canteen, postcard.

Today we remember the catastrophe that brought us into World War II on December 7, 1941 but also the generation of kids who grew up in the nightmare years that followed.  Many, in their own way, tried to help.  Some of those kids, barely on the threshold of adulthood, paid with their lives.  Patriotism comes in so many forms, but the most precious is sacrifice.