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.



*****************************
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.

*****************************
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.

*****************************
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.

*****************************
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.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Red Canyon location still


The publicity still from Red Canyon (1949) shows Ann Blyth and costar Howard Duff on location in what was Ann's first color film (even though the publicity still is black and white), and only feature western.  We discussed her work in this film on my Another Old Movie Blog:

She was 19 years old and had hit her stride.

It was a pinnacle of a kind, and the beginning of new trail.  After a string of six heavy dramas that gave her intense roles to prove herself a major up and coming actress, her last film before Red Canyon, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, was a complete change that charmed the public and clued-in the studio that Ann was also athletic, and that her beauty was as much an asset to selling a film as her acting skill.  Her trim body, also, could lend itself to more than posing in a crisp Noir wardrobe. 

It also reminded the studio that she was young.  In those dramas, from Mildred Pierce through Another Part of the Forest, Ann’s characters were increasingly poised, knowing, sophisticated, and wore a mantle of worldly experience even though in real life she was still some years away from being old enough to vote.  Her characters were restless, mean, sad, tragic.

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, because of her fanciful character and its exotic costuming, her silent communication through her expressive face, and the joyful silliness of the plot, actually managed to re-set the clock on her screen sophistication.  She was suddenly much younger again.  For the next several films she would play more innocent ingĂ©nues, most of them in comedies, and this one western...

For more, head on over to this post at Another Old Movie Blog.

*****************************
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 10, 2017

Mother's Day with Mildred Pierce



Stunning photography—cinematography—
along with an ingenious twist in the script, turned James M. Cain’s novel of Mildred Pierce, into a visual masterpiece.  Unlike his other novels that were later made into the films Double Indemnity (1944), and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) which are noir stories even on the page, Mildred Pierce was not written as such.  It’s more a character study of a woman who indomitably struggles against privation, and whose Achilles’ heel is her greatest passion, her daughter.  In the hands of the Warner Bros. studio, this story, rather than a weepy so-called “woman’s picture” becomes first class noir.  Largely, this is due to the cinematography—and a newly invented murder plot.
--- From Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.

You know this coming Sunday is Mother's Day when Turner Classic Movies includes Mildred Pierce (1945) in the lineup.  That infamous mother-daughter duo played by Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth will start their scene-stealing at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.  Ann and Zachary Scott play out a famous scene in the striking lobby card above.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ann and her pal, Roddy McDowall

Roddy McDowall and Ann became lifelong friends, and dated for a while during the period of time when fan magazines were chasing her every move.  For one, Screenland, Roddy, likely with the help of the publicity department, wrote an article about Ann and how he had come to know her as a guest at one of his Sunday parties.

She was at the house most of the day and I thought was one of the sweetest and nicest people I’d ever met.  I’d say that gentility was the right term to use to describe her.

He goes on to describe, or to attempt to describe, her personality for a readership, but more for the press that had since her coming of age regarded Ann as an enigma.

When you take her to a party, as I have on several occasions, she really can throw you.  To begin with, and not many know this about her, she is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.  She’s a tremendous story-teller and when she gets started on one of dialect stories you laugh so hard you almost fall on your face.  I’ve never ceased to be amazed at how quickly she changes when she’s being the comedienne.

Ann really loves parties—especially if charades is the game of the evening.

She also liked roller coasters.

When they met up for a date in New York City, she took him, with a New Yorker’s savvy and sense of humor, to the Automat for dinner.  

McDowall also notes, as others have:

She simply does not like to talk about herself.

That is perhaps her most unusual characteristic—her reserve.  She’s a great introvert.  It’s as though there was a wall around her.  Maybe you’d call it self-sufficiency, but I really don’t know.  It does seem, however, that she lives a good deal within herself.

Roddy McDowall, among his many accomplishments, was also an excellent photographer who published several volumes of his photographs.  In Double Exposure: Take Four, he includes a portrait photo he took of Ann Blyth.  It’s in black and white, taken in the early 1990s when Ann was in her early sixties and remarkably lovely, and the pose and facial expression—serene, enigmatic, with a touch of humor in her soft eyes—is strikingly similar to the cast head shot of her when she started in Watch on the Rhine in 1941.  The photo is accompanied by a quote from Jane Withers, in part, “She radiates beauty from within in everything she ever does.” 

Despite her reputation for being reserved and enigmatic, in the contemplative setting in the pages of this book, she is clearly supported by the understanding of two loving friends who had known her since they were all teens together in a special place at a special time.

*****************************
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, April 19, 2017

Brute Force (1947) on TCM...


Ann Blyth and Burt Lancaster on set in Brute Force (1947).  He plays a criminal on the run in this flashback scene, stopping briefly to check on his love.  He will attempt to break out of prison for her sake in the movie's climactic scene.  It's coming up on Turner Classic Movies this Sunday the 23rd, at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Read more about the movie here at my Another Old Movie Blog.


*****************************
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, April 12, 2017

Clowning off set at Rose Marie


The cast of Rose Marie (1954) clowns around at the Mammoth Lakes, California, shooting location.  Here we have Fernando Lamas, Ann Blyth, Howard Keel, Joan Taylor, and Bert Lahr.  Tomorrow, Thursday the 13th, Turner Classic Movies is showing Rose Marie in a lineup of splashy 1950s MGM musicals.  NOTE:  Kismet (1955) with Ann Blyth is also part of the lineup.  Catch Rose Marie at 2 p.m. ET, and Kismet at 6 p.m. ET.  Howard Keel costars in both -- it's actually Howard's day, so enjoy a string of great Howard Keel performances.

We discussed Rose Marie here on my Another Old Movie Blog, and of course, there's more in the book -- Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.
*****************************
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.