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.

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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.


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






Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Visit from the Photographer -- Ann Blyth's Convalescence


Ann Blyth was seriously injured when she was 16 years old, requiring a long convalescence as her career was put on hold -- and some feared her injury would end her career.

A few weeks ago we had a look at a photo in this post taken by the Universal studio of Ann at home, as she took part in a publicity chore which actually could be seen an invasion of her privacy.  The scrutiny required by the publicity department became a bit more personal when a series of photos was taken of Ann recovering at home, an invalid confined to her bed in a body cast.

Here we see Ann posed as if making up before a hand mirror, gamely continuing with the priorities of a teenage girl.  Underneath the bed jacket peeks the signatures and messages of family and friends on the body cast.  Surely visits from friends were more welcome than from the photographers, but she was a professional and did her job.

The episode of her injury on a toboggan is recounted in my book Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.:

“I remember Ann did not get up at first.  She just kept lying there in the snow.”

She had landed on a rock jutting from the snow.  She fractured her spine.  She was sixteen years old...


“It knocked the wind out of me and I felt as if my back had been driven into my chest.”

Her friends helped her to sit on a nearby tree stump, but the pain grew excruciating....

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

The fracture involved two vertebrae that had jammed together.  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.’”

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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.


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


Friday, June 23, 2017

Ann Blyth Guest Stars on Quincy, M.E. - today on COZI-TV


Just a brief alert to let you know that the episode "The Death Challenge" on Quincy, M.E. will be broadcast today on COZI-TV, 2 p.m. Eastern Time.  Ann Blyth and Don Ameche appear as a husband-and-wife magician act, along with star Jack Klugman, pictured above,

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ann Blyth - DJ on the Armed Forces Radio Service


Seventeen-year-old Ann Blyth became a radio disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio Service in September-October 1945.

Many Hollywood stars served as hosts, emcees, or contributed their talent in an amazing array of radio variety show scenarios during World War II.  Most of these programs were studio recorded in the U.S., and then the records were shipped to camps and bases overseas for the military to enjoy.

Among the more well-remembered programs are Mail Call, Command Performance, Jubilee, and G.I. Journal.  Ann did guest on Command Performance with Kay Kyser as host in 1946, and was the emcee on Mail Call also in 1946.  I don't know if those programs were preserved. 

However, we are fortunate to have at least two episodes of Purple Heart Album, a 15-minute program, usually hosted by Frances Langford, (though other stars filled in for her from time to time) on which Ann appeared.  You can listen to two shows in which Ann Blyth substituted as the disc jockey/host for Frances Langford, thanks to the Internet Archive.  The programs are in public domain, so feel free to download them to your computers.  First, episode #55, where Ann presents recordings by Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Vaughn Monroe with "Rum and Coca-Cola," and others.

Second, episode #56, Vaughn Monore back with a delightful "A Trip on a Greyhound Bus," and other artists.

One notes upon listening to these programs that they were intended for broadcast to veterans' hospitals across the country, and Ann reads requests and dedications sent in by the military patients of these hospitals.  This was her audience for Purple Heart Album.

Undoubtedly, her patter and delivery--soothing, tender, and easygoing, is likely intended by the producers as comforting as much as for entertainment for bedridden war casualties.  She refers to herself as "your gal friend," and "your old school chum."  Her delivery is quite smooth and professional for someone so young, and yet genuine and pleasant.

Ann probably understood more than most of the guest hosts the need for entertainment of the comforting kind for the injured and disabled: she was slowly recovering that year from a serious spine injury she had suffered in a toboggan accident in April 1945, and had spent many months in bed.  By the fall, she was out of her plaster body cast and into a removable steel brace--able to get around and leave the apartment she shared with her mother, but her film career was put on hold for the time being.  Luckily, her recovery period included a gig like this for the wounded warriors to enjoy back then, and for us to enjoy now.



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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.


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


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Merry Monahans - lobby cards

Ann Blyth's second movie was The Merry Monahans (1944), one of a string of four musicals released by Universal-International in 1944.  These lobby cards, which were issued in a series for advertisement in theater lobbies, show different scenes from the film.  The scene above shows Ann in a backstage dressing room in an awkward dramatic moment with Rosemary DeCamp, who plays her mother, and John Miljan, who plays their conniving and controlling vaudeville partner and manager intending to complete his control by marrying her mother.  Ann doesn't like him, and is caught between a rock and a hard place.

We are given a glimpse into Ann's ability to convey a range of emotions in a dramatic setting, and such scenes inevitably stand out in what were really stories of light fluff.

Donald O'Connor, Jack Oakie, Peggy Ryan

These other lobby cards shown here serve to really promote the film to an audience who were already familiar with Jack Oakie, Donald O'Connor, and Peggy Ryan.  They were the heavy hitters of the movie on whose shoulders the publicity department placed the weight of promoting the film.  

Donald O'Connor,  Peggy Ryan, and Jack Oakie

This Ann Blyth newcomer, whose image was starting to crop up on lobby cards and movie posters, she would be a talent whose ability to carry the promotion of a film would soon grab the attention of the Universal publicity department in a big way, and would become one of the lead stars of the studio.  In her case, I'm not sure it was the result of being groomed by the studio, as was the case with many contract players, or if it simply happened. Kismet, you might say.

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

Here, Ann is not the breezy and self-confident sophisticate she was in Chip off the Old Block.  She’s playing closer to her own age, looks younger with the World War I-era long ringlets and old-fashioned clothing, and she immediately draws our sympathy for her anxiety over performing, of not being good enough and not pleasing her mother and Mr. Miljan, who coaches her.  She has to make good because they have to eat; otherwise, she’s not sure she belongs in this world of theatre—just a sad, sweet girl, doing her best to keep up, though she is overwhelmed.

We see at once that Ann Blyth has, in her second film, already established her ability to appear completely different to her previous movie role.  Her versatility, the most striking and notable feature of her acting career, is a quality she came in with from day one.  As we will see, this very talent of simply being versatile could be useful in exploiting new opportunities; but it could also hold one back in an industry that seemed always to hire based on type.

Peggy Ryan

For more on The Merry Monahans, have a look at this post on my Another Old Movie Blog.

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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.


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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ann Blyth at home...

Ann Blyth is about twenty years old in the above photo, seen relaxing at home.  It was a house she shared with her aunt and uncle, who came to live with her after the death of her mother when Ann was a teenager.  This is a photo taken and distributed for publicity purposes by her home studio, Universal.

We are bombarded today with media coverage on the private lives of celebrities, but it's interesting to note that back in Hollywood's heyday, even though the information we were given about the stars' personal lives was heavily filtered, there was still a great deal of imposing on their privacy -- often at the insistence of their employers, the studios.

To varying degrees, the stars complied and we are left with a record of an era when glamour could be found even in ordinary moments of simplicity.  Such was the case with the twenty-year-old young woman in 1948, the year her films A Woman's Vengeance and Another Part of the Forest were released.  Ann played two sophisticated, complicit, even conniving women in those movies.

Nothing like the girl with the abundant dark hair, reading a magazine on the sofa.

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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.


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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The King's Thief - on TCM!


Ann Blyth and David Niven gamble over high stakes in the aftermath of the English Civil War in The King's Thief (1955).  The swashbuckling adventure features Edmund Purdom, George Sanders, and the late Roger Moore.  Turner Classic Movies will show the movie this Friday, June 2nd, at 5 p.m. ET.

From Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. -

Ann Blyth plays the daughter of one such discredited nobleman, who has lived in exile in France.  Now that the war is done, she’s eager to return to England, but is shocked and heartbroken when her father’s friend comes to tell her the news that Niven has put her father to death.  Though told she must never return to England now, nevertheless, Ann is a feisty gentlewoman.  She’s heading back to find out what happened to her father and confront this David Niven fellow.

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

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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.


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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One Minute to Zero on TCM!


Ann Blyth and Robert Mitchum star in One Minute to Zero (1952) this coming Saturday, May 27th at 10:30 a.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies.

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

Their most intriguing scene together, however, is playing sitting opposite each other at a kitchen table after she has made supper for him at her apartment in Japan, their first date.  The candles burn down, and both, slightly slumped over the table, he with his chin on his hand, give the impression of being all talked out.  A soothing, lazy tune, in a delicately Asian style, penetrates their silence, coming, we are told in a quick camera shot from a record on a portable record player.  Suddenly, Robert Mitchum begins to sing along to the tune, in Japanese.  Catch Ann’s expression of surprised delight.  She is glued to his face, watching him sing, fascinated by him.  It opens the door to their romance.  She sees there is more to him than just a blustering alpha male dismissive of her opinions on the war.

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