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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Upcoming Author Event in Westfield, Massachusetts


As you can see, my book Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is prominently displayed in this bookstore.  It currently shares the shelf with a few of my other books here at Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield, Massachusetts, along with a notice about my upcoming visit to the bookstore on Saturday, December 3rd.

On November 16th, the local daily paper, The Westfield News, featured an article on my upcoming meet-and-greet at the store by Lori Szepelak.  That it made the front page of the paper was an special kick for me, for, as I mentioned in the interview, I used to write a weekly column for this newspaper over thirty years ago when I was a senior at Westfield State College (now Westfield State University).

I'm looking forward to meeting readers and shoppers at Blue Umbrella Books this coming Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., where all my books will be available for sale and signing.  Blue Umbrella Books is located at 2 Main Street, Westfield, right in the center of town on the common.



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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, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


The studios seldom let a holiday pass without posing a star among celebratory props.  This is one of the more dignified entries for Thanksgiving.  Here Ann Blyth is comfortably seated among the bounty of the fall harvest, like a maid in the field.

Other stars were less fortunate: having to enact comic turkey hunts in "cheesecake" photo shoots, or performing seemingly acrobatic feats with pumpkins.   Happily, we are spared that on this occasion.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Killer McCoy - Ann Teams with Mickey Rooney


Killer McCoy (1947) proved to be something of a comeback for Mickey Rooney, having returned from the service after the war, and for Ann Blyth, just getting the momentum of her career moving again in the period after her disastrous accident in which she had fractured her spine.

It's an MGM picture, and though a boxing story, we can see the MGM gloss in the beautiful cinematography, especially the glamorous treatment Ann Blyth receives.  For more on Killer McCoy, have a look here at my Another Old Movie Blog.

Turner Classic Movies is showing Killer McCoy on this coming Tuesday, November 22nd, at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.

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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, November 2, 2016

Brute Force - today on TCM


Brute Force (1946) is a powerful prison film.  Burt Lancaster plays the leader of his fellow inmates planning a jailbreak.  Ann is the girl he left behind, whose illness requiring immediate and expensive medical treatment is the reason he needs to get free.  She has changed his life.  He will try to save hers. 

It is an unblinking look at a corrupt prison, and is cynical about the prospect of anything ever changing.  There are no happy endings here, but the movie is lyrical in its poetic cinematography.

Turner Classic Movies is showing Brute Force today at 3:45 p.m. Eastern.  I discuss the movie here at my Another Old Movie Blog as well.

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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, October 26, 2016

The Mermaid and the Monster


While Ann Blyth was filming Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948), Glenn Strange was busy on another soundstage filming Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  He was the monster.  At the time of this photo, the Monster came to visit the Mermaid.  Maybe he was taking her to lunch.  Maybe she was lunch.

We discuss Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid in this post on my Another Old Movie Blog, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein here at this post.

Both creatures were created by Universal-International makeup department head Bud Westmore.  Universal, of course, was famous for its monster movies.  From the Monster and the Mermaid--Happy Halloween!

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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, October 18, 2016

Mildred Pierce (1945) - Poster and Lobby Card


The above full-sheet poster for Mildred Pierce (1945) was part of the original publicity for the movie.  It tells us in bold imagery that Joan Crawford is the star attraction of the film: not only is her name at the top, but there are two images of her on the poster.  The full body image of her posed with a gun entices the observer with a tease on the story line.  But the overwhelming image on the poster is of the face that takes up half the sheet.  The face is not Mildred Pierce -- Mildred is the full-body image -- the face is Joan.  We are going to see Joan.  She is the selling point of the movie.


However, in this follow-up colorized lobby card, we see the focus is not Joan Crawford.  There are three people in the image, the fateful triangle that makes up the story's intrigue and tragedy: Mildred, her playboy second husband, and her daughter, Veda.

Ann Blyth rates fifth billing in the movie, and a smaller credit on the large poster.  She isn't even mentioned on the lobby card-- but she is now an image used for publicity.  This is on the strength of her performance--which was praised by critics even before the film was released.  She earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, the youngest person at the time (16 years old) to be so honored.

Mildred Pierce is running again on Turner Classic Movies tomorrow at 8 a.m. Eastern.  Go see what all the fuss was about.
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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, October 12, 2016

"Suspected" Episode of The June Allyson Show


Ann Blyth starred on television in a suspense episode of The DuPont Show with June Allyson called "Suspected."  It's recently been uploaded to YouTube, so here's your chance to see it.

The program was an anthology show that featured a different star every week, with June Allyson as the host and occasional star herself.  "Suspected" was broadcast December 28, 1959 on CBS, and included Gerald Mohr as a remorseless, woman-hating detective and Marjorie Bennett as a habitual pickpocket and rogue of the cell block.  Ann is a murder suspect, shafted by the press, her family, and the judiciary system.  It's an intense performance in a tightly written show.  You can read more about the episode in my book, Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.

Or you can just hop over to YouTube and have a look for yourself.  Enjoy.


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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, October 5, 2016

Makeup Man Jack Pierce with Ann Blyth



Before there was Bud Westmore, there was Jack Pierce at Universal.  He was responsible for the iconic monster makeup of the early 1930s, especially the look of Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein monster, which has become the template for how we see author Mary Shelley’s creation.

Reportedly not terribly well liked at the studio, and having a tendency to go over budget with his creations, Pierce was fired in 1946.  He’s here with Ann Blyth on a considerably easier assignment gilding the lily. 

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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, September 28, 2016

Slander (1957) on TCM


Marjorie Rambeau appears with Ann Blyth in the above movie still photo from Slander (1957).  Turner Classic Movies is showing it today at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Van Johnson co-stars as Ann's husband, a performer on a child's TV show who has a checkered past, and is blackmailed by a scandal magazine to rat on another celebrity, to protect himself.  A very timely and controversial subject in the 1950s, when scandal mags were first hitting Hollywood.  Careers and lives were destroyed.  Van Johnson and Ann Blyth have to make some hard choices, and suffer monstrous consequences.  Steve Cochran plays the magazine publisher who calls all the shots.

You can read more about Slander here at my Another Old Movie Blog.  Don't forget to tune in to TCM this afternoon!

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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, September 21, 2016

Noir Publicity Shot for Swell Guy


Ann Blyth in a 1946 publicity still, around the time she filmed Swell Guy with Sonny Tufts and Ruth Warrick.  This was the period of her career, following in the wake of her Best Supporting Oscar nomination for Mildred Pierce, when she played a string of devious or troubled women with chips on their shoulders and axes to grind, when she was compared to a young Bette Davis.


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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, September 14, 2016

Signing Autographs


For the celebrity, autograph hounds are a part of life, even if they are not part of the job.  Here's Ann Blyth signing for three teenaged boys in a photo taken from Hollywood Life Stories of 1954, one of the many fan magazines of the day.  She would have been about 25 years old in this photo.

She was reportedly a patient and agreeable signer of autographs throughout her career.


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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, September 7, 2016

Chip Off the Old Block Poster


Here's a "full sheet" poster for Chip Off the Old Block (1944), which was Ann Blyth's first film.

We discussed the movie in this post at my Another Old Movie Blog.  Ann's first four movies were a string of musicals for Universal, which signed her to a seven-year contract when she was 14 years old.  She had been on tour with the play Watch on the Rhine, when she was spotted by Universal execs when the drama played in Los Angeles.

Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan were a most dynamic duo, when Ann's arrival turned them into a trio.  Universal showcased the talent of many teens in that period during the late 1930s and early 1940s, even more than the other studios, Deanna Durbin undoubtedly foremost among them.

The "full sheet" posters are huge, of course, about 41 inches tall by 27 inches wide, spectacular for display if you have the room.  It's not always easy to come by them in pristine condition these days, but now and again you hear of someone discovering a stash of classic film posters discovered in some theater storage space, or possibly in the home of a collector who had a connection with one of the great old downtown movie houses. 

Most of the posters were an attempt to summarize the story and yet not give anything away, but in their way, I think they were more creative and entertaining, and storytelling, than today's slicker posters, which are less about plot tags and more about "branding" an image for merchandising.

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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, August 31, 2016

Mowing the Lawn...


Because summer is not only about going to the beach...

Hollywood studios back in the day published innumerable "candid" photographs of stars at work, at play, at doing nothing in particular.  They were often portrayed as glamorous people in glamorous settings, but occasionally they were supposed to be more just like us. 

When Ann Blyth, in company with her aunt and uncle, moved into their new home in the Toluca Lake area of North Hollywood in 1947, the publicity men showed up, of course, to snap a few staged shots.

Here's Ann doing everyone's favorite chore: mowing the lawn.  She was nineteen in this photo. 

Escaping the studio publicity staff was probably more difficult than escaping yardwork.

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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.